The Buffalo Sabres enter the 2013 NHL Draft stacked with four picks in the first two rounds - #8, #16, #38, & #52. Click on the numbers to read previews on the players we expect to be available and what the Sabres might do at those positions, trades notwithstanding.
The writers at Die By The Blade also weighed in with their personal opinions on who they thought the Sabres management would be picking when their turn came:
I'm going to stick with the picks I made for the SBNation NHL Mock Draft, however horribly wrong they'll inevitably prove to be - Darnell Nurse at #8 and Frederik Gauthier at #15. Overall, the Sabres have said that they'd like to come out of the draft with 6 forwards, 3 defensemen, and 1 goaltender, so in round two they could really go in any direction. I'm not going to try and predict specific players here, but I do think they'll continue drafting players that have a nice combination of size, skill, and work ethic that they've focused on the past few years. I will go out on a limb and say I think they'll stay put and draft four players in their current spots, considering this is one of the deepest drafts in years.
I won't be surprised if the Sabres keep all four of their picks in the first two rounds. If the draft is really as deep as they say it is, then you probably would like as many picks in it as possible. If that depth is really there, you probably don't want to give up too much to move up unless you're getting into the top three. At eight I really like the idea of Nurse, especially since some say he will be just as good as Seth Jones. Valeri Nichushkin intrgues me a lot too. Fucale seems to be the trendy pick at 16, but I like Erne a lot as well. If he falls a bit it would be cool to see local boy Justin Bailey go to the Sabres in the second round.
The team has needs across the board, and four picks in the top sixty is nothing to sneer at; wise choices at all four positions could mean the future is safe. But I also feel Darcy knows his tenure is threatened and will attempt to fix this broken team to get some heat off him now. I would wager the Sabres do not hold on to all four picks, using one or more of them either as trade bait or else to move higher up in the draft.
At the #8 pick, I can't say I'm a fan of NIkita Zadorov or Hunter Shinkaruk, I'd rather see Valeri Nichuskin, Sean Monahan or Elias Lindholm among forwards, and Darnell Nurse among defensemen. If the Sabres retain the #16 pick and goaltender prodigy Zachary Fucale is still on the board, we could have a franchise-defining moment on our hands as Ryan Miller's future will hang in the balance.
The draft is always a crap shoot because nobody knows how these guys will develop. I'm not going to try to wow you with predictions of players I've never seen play. Therefore, I will stick to guys I have seen play in the OHL. I'm not in the minority when I say that Darnell Nurse would be my first choice at #8. Nurse brings the size and meanness the Sabres have lacked on the blue line for years. I believe he would become a fan favorite the first time he puts on a Sabres uniform.
It becomes a little more tricky at the #16 pick. Bo Horvat would be my first choice with this pick. Horvat is a big guy that would fit the mold of what the Sabres have been trying to do the past couple of seasons. If Horvat is not available, I would try to trade down a couple of picks and select Kerby Rychel. I would probably still select Rychel at 16 if there is no option to trade down. I believe Rychel will prove to be a very good NHL player.
The second round is even more of a crap shoot, but I would do whatever it takes to get Justin Bailey. Not only is Bailey an outstanding player, but it would be a great story for him and the Sabres.
So those are some of our thoughts, how about you? What do you think the Sabres will do today? Who do you want to see in blue and gold this afternoon? Leave your predictions in the comments, and come back when the draft is over to gloat.