PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 7: A statue of Mario Lemieux stands in front of the Consol Energy Center, the hosts of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
The 2012 NHL Draft starts tonight, with the first round commencing at 7p EST, and the subsequent rounds resuming on Saturday at 10a EST. The Buffalo Sabres have a total of four selections in rounds one and two, picking at the #12, #21, #42 & #44 positions.
The writers here at Die By The Blade got together to discuss what they each thought the Sabres will be doing for the first two rounds, stay tuned after the jump for more.
I would be shocked if the Sabres actually made all 4 picks right where they are. My gut feeling is that Darcy will use his stockpile of picks to trade for an established veteran, possibly shipping out a current Sabre in the process. Failing that, I wouldn't be surprised at all to see the Sabres move up a few picks - not to #2 or anything, but possibly up to #8 or 9 if the guy they really covet is still there.
I think even Darcy has not set in stone what he will be doing in the draft until it starts. Pretty certain that the Sabres will not be trading into the top 5 - in fact, it's possible they will only trade up if there is a run on dmen and Faksa falls. That will most likely cost the #12 pick and either a prospect or a lower round pick.
I don't see the Sabres picking up Ceci even though they brought him in for a trial - his skillset is very similar to Pysyk, and I think Maatta might be a more likely pick, hopefully Numminen has some say in that. For the second pick in the first round, I expect Girgensons.. though if he is gone then it should be Tom Wilson. In the second round, I'm thinking a goalie and another forward if the picks are not traded.
I have no idea what will go on. Out of all days of the year, the draft always perplexes me. Personally, I want us stockpiling centers, since I see that most successful teams have solid pivots down the middle. On the other hand, doing so and ignoring BPA is silly, since the BPA could be used to acquire a center in the future. With what has been said this week, I imagine Darcy will be a mover and shaker today since he has claimed that he is, "open for business."
One thing I am more comfortable with this off-season is an upgrade at center using a center we already have (i.e. Ennis or Roy). Before this year, I was always against this idea since we had so few centers to begin with, (i.e. Roy and a 1st for Spezza would be silly), but the addition of Hodgson last season gives the team a lot more flexibility to use a Roy and possibly nab an equal or different center. I personally love Roy, but I am also not against the mentality of moving out some of the "core" players and shaking it up a bit.
As much as I would love to see the Sabres be active this evening, I don't really see it happening. I think they will make the 12th and 21st pick and they will probably take both second round picks on Saturday. If I am the GM I am focused on size and forwards. I would take as many centers as possible because they can always play the wing when you have too many. Most successful teams have natural centers playing on the wing for depth purposes.
12th - Radek Faksa is the pick if he is still available. If he is gone I think a guy like Zemgus Girgensons could be an interesting pick, and I also like Brendan Gaunce.
21st - Tom Wilson seems to be the consensus pick in the mock drafts, but I like Stefan Matteau. He has NHL bloodlines and he plays a physical style of hockey. He is still a couple of years away, but sure fire NHL player in my eyes.
The second round gets a bit more difficult. I had trouble figuring out guys to target. I guess I would look at players like Tanner Pearson or Cristoval Nieves. If you want to start looking for defense a guy like Adam Pelech could be a nice fit (also selfishly because he plays for the Erie Otters and I can follow him regularly). I should also through Henrik Samuelsson in the mix for the second round because he also has NHL bloodlines and some size.
This is a thought with no proof behind it but something makes me think they make a move this weekend to improve the team right away. Maybe package a pick or two with a current player to get a veteran that's able to contribute right away. It seems like Pegula wants to start winning ASAP instead of sticking with the "wait and see" approach. Who knows though. Really anything could happen this weekend...it's so wide open.