As we spend the next week closing in on the 2012 NHL Draft, we'll go through the Sabres picks in reverse order (building suspense!) and offer some possible players or general insights about what the team might try and do at those selections. Today's topic: rounds 3-7.
First off - what this post will not be: I won't be offering possible player picks for these rounds, because, to be perfectly honest, I don't really know too much about the players that would be drafted in rounds 3-7, and would basically just be stealing from Kris Baker's excellent draft preview post at SabresProspects.com. If you're looking for players that might be available in the later rounds, just go read Bakes' article. Rather, what I will be offering is some trends and needs that the team will likely try and address in those later rounds. So without further ado, in rounds 3-7, look for the Sabres to...
Draft a Goaltender
Out of the last 10 goaltenders the team has taken, going all the way back to Ryan Miller in 1999, only one of them was drafted before round 4 - Jhonas Enroth in the second round. We've already mentioned how the organization will be empty in net in both the major junior and collegiate ranks next year, so it's almost a guarentee that Buffalo will take a goalie this year. The only question is where, and recent history suggests that it'll be late.
Pick Up Their Shorties
Over the last four seasons, every player 6'0'' or shorter that the Sabres have drafted have come in rounds 3-7, with the exception of Mr. Tyler Ennis. It's worth noting that the organization has really trended toward drafting players with ideal size during these past four years, having only picked five players out of 29 that are six feet or below - Tyler Ennis, Daniel Catenacci, Kevin Sundher, Christian Isackson, and Jacob Legace. Expect the trend of drafting size early to continue, but if the organization is looking for undersized talent, it will most likely come later in the draft.
Recruit from College or Prep School
The Sabres have made most of their draft picks over the past four years from the Canadian major junior leagues; only seven picks have been from outside those borders. Six of those seven came from either the college or prep school ranks, and all of them came in the third round or later. Buffalo has had success drafting from the collegiate ranks, as both Drew Stafford and Thomas Vanek were first round college talent, but they haven't shown the desire to select from the land of higher education in recent years, especially early on.
Coming Monday: Possible players to look for with Buffalo's two 2nd round picks.