Ah, yes...it's my favorite time of the year again: The NHL Draft. In years past I've endorsed the likes of Emerson Etem, Jordan Weal, Mark Scheifele, Matt Puempel, and Tomas Jurco. So far...none have made the ceremonial jump to the NHL for a full-time gig.
For as much as this year as pegged as a defenseman's draft...expect forwards to dominate the top 10 of the draft again. There are A LOT of top end prospects this year that have had major reconstructive surgery this past year, and after the top 6 atop the draft it is expected to be a wide open show. So...without further adieu...My Draft Plans
Plan A- The Conservative Approach: Keep the picks
We currently have 4 draft picks in the top 60, and two in the first round: #12 and #21 from Nashville (thank you Goose). With Roy entering the last year of his contract: I believe it's about time that we evaluate what EXACTLY Derek Roy is worth:
Coming into the 2007 season Roy signed a 6 year contract with a 4 million dollar cap hit. Since he signed his contract his point total has been: 81, 70, 69, 35 (in 35 games), and 44. In all but one season he's played at least 78 games. So subtracting the shortened injury season, Roy has averaged 53 points a year or a median of 70 points. He's had ONE bad year for us (injury induced). Last year 6 players hit 53 points, and four were forwards: Taylor Hall, Danny Heatley, Paul Statsny, and David Legwand. Their cap hits: 3.75mil, 6.6mil, 7.5mil, 4.5mil for an average salary cap hit of: 5.59 million.
Conclusion: I chose Roy's average point total versus last year's point total because Roy is a talented player...I don't believe he was a 4/5 year wonder. He's put in his time to be regarded as highly as he is(was). Roy's statistical worst year of 44 points was bad. He was often non-existent in the offensive zone. But even with his terrible 44 point season averaged into his career...he's still outperforming his contract. I hear a lot of clamoring for Paul Statsny...but he's underperforming his contract AND is 2.5 million more expensive. I don't think Regier will trade Roy. There. I said it. If he can assemble a halfway decent season (60 points) he'll come back to us at the 4.5-5.5 million range. He is NOT a #1 center and, folks, there isn't one available on the market...and Regier knows it.
The #12 pick- Griffin Reinhart, D, Portland (WHL): He's visited the Sabres, he has size (6'4, 202lbs), skill (paired with last year's 1st rounder Mark Pysk as the shut down defenseman), and offensive upside (12 goals, 36 points). He has NHL pedigree (father played in the NHL). He'd make the likes of Weber and Sekera expendable in the future (maybe even now...he has the size), and has a top-4 defensemen ceiling
The #21 pick- Thomas Wilson, RW, Plymouth (OHL): He's huge, flown up Central Scoutings rating, has that "Milan Lucic Clone" title. We lost some scrap in the Kassian trade, and he'd fit the bill in Darcy's plan to get bigger, stronger, and tougher.
The Moderate Risk Approach: Small package deal to move up into the 7-10 range to take Radek Faksa
Reasoning: I think it's Darcy's initial plan to get Radek Faksa, C, Kitchener (OHL). He's physically exactly what Darcy is looking for in his next centerman (6'3, 203). He exploded onto the scene in his first season in the OHL with 28 goals, 35 assists in 58 games. He's highly skilled and his stock has risen dramatically that most believe he'll be out of reach by the time the Sabres draft at 12. I've seen him mainly between the 7-12 pick (**Note: he NEVER falls beyond us in any mock draft**) and I could see Darcy dealing up to get him.
If we keep #21 pick: Brady Skjei D, USHL U18- Gotta love those local boys
The All-In-We're-Going-In-A-Different-Direction-Approach: A HUGE package to Columbus (think Roy/(if I dare say) Miller, 1st round draft pick(s), future firsts, Ect) for the #2 pick to select either Nail Yakupov or Alex Galchenyuk
Now if I'm drafting Alex Galchenyuk...then I'm trading Roy. This kid is a prototypical elite-center mold (6'2, 203 lbs.), he's a playmaker, and he's often compared to Ron Francis. The ONLY downfall for taking this kid is that he is coming off an ACL tear and reconstructive surgery...BUT scouts claim he has regained most of his explosiveness when he was tested at the combine. He'd probably have contended for the #1 pick (and in some mocks he still does) had he not been injured the whole year. It'd TAKE A LOT to get up there....but if you're of the school of thought that we need a #1 center, need to get bigger, and can wait a couple of years for this kid to put it all together...then this may be the draft strategy you're hoping for.
What I hope for: Moderate package. Don't want to blow up this team just yet!
Names that I like that I don't see the Sabres drafting but liked watching them play or what scouts have said:
TEUVO TERAVAINEN, LW, JOKERIT JR. (FIN-JR.)- undersized (5'10, 175) but highly skilled. Think Tyler Ennis but more upside.
SEBASTIAN COLLBERG, RW, FROLUNDA JR. (SWE-JR.)- Highly talented scoring wing. Committed to Sweden for a couple of years more...a good selection for the #21 spot
TOMAS HERTL, C, SLAVIA (CZREP)- Already playing at a high level in the men's Czech league. Would be a great selection at #21 if we take a defenseman with the first pick.
BRENDAN GAUNCE, C, BELLEVILLE (OHL)- When a scout says that "if he was building a team from the ground up...I'd draft Gaunce #1" you have to get kind-of excited about the kid.
If you'd like to go further in depth please visit sabresprospects.com, awesome website by Kris Baker that goes into depth for all Sabres draft picks, or visit tsn.ca for more detailed profiles of each prospect (I like it better to nhl.com)
Maybe we can get a live thread going for the Draft?? I know I'll be sitting here, beverage in hand, yelling at the TV!