It's no secret the Sabres have a ton of draft picks over the next couple of seasons. Depending on the Islanders place in this year's draft the Sabres could have, including their own picks, two first round picks and three in the second round. In 2015 they could be looking at two first rounders (if the Islander's pick is deferred) and, again, 3three in the second round. Pretty impressive stock, especially when you consider that they still have a few players that will probably be dealt (Miller and Moulson) meaning the possibility of more picks. With the Sabres struggling, their own picks will be early depending on how they fair in the draft lottery.
Pittsburgh is the clear example of rebuilding through draft picks picking up Fleury, Crosby, Malkin, and Jordan Staal in consecutive years from 03-06. It started by trading away the one superstar on the team, Jaromir Jagr (sound familiar, Vanek?) in the off-season of 2001. After that things got ugly as they finished towards the bottom of the league in 2002 and 2003 while bottoming out as the worst in the conference in 04 and 06, winning only 22 games in 2006 (Sabres are on track to win 12 this year). By 2007 they were back in the playoffs, a runner up in20 08, and eventually winning the cup in 2009. It was an eight year rebuild but it obviously paid off for the team in the end.
So now that the history lesson is out of the way, if we compare the Sabres to the Penguins, we should see the cup in Buffalo around 2020. Sounds pretty painful, right? A few more ugly, drawn-out seasons before we see any playoff games played at First Niagara. Of course, with the NHL draft lottery, luck does come into play and Pittsburgh lucked out in 2005 winning the lottery to take Crosby, as Sabres fans might be hoping the team does in 2015 to draft uber-prospect Connor McDavid.
I don't know about you, but I don't want to put up with any more losing seasons as they secure draft picks, especially when they have a fair amount of young talent that just needs to develop. Would the quicker way to rebuild be paying for some high scoring free agents come this off-season, and then supplement them with the draft picks the Sabres already hold? We are already seeing that talent develops slowly and the influx of veteran talent would likely speed up the process and would make them a middle of the road team again pretty quickly. Of course, we've seen a middle of the road Sabres team in Buffalo for the past few years, and it remains to be seen whether or not they could continue to rise above that level.
Either way it looks like we might be in for more than a few years of suffering but, when that cup does come to Buffalo in 2020, won't it all be worth it? What do you think about the possibility of a five to eight year rebuild?