So, we stand on the edge of the biggest draft BFLO has had in decades. Our beloved Sabres have the #2 pick. In all likelihood, BFLO will have a choice between a group consisting of Reinhart, Bennett, Dal Colle, and Draisaitl. Now, there are plenty of monkey wrenches still available: FLA could trade the #1 overall to VAN (or anyone, really, but a hot rumor is VAN) and they could finagle Reinhart. With Ekblad available at #2, would BFLO move one of their prize D (Myers, Ehrhoff?) and take the best player in the Draft? Or would they move down to, say, #4 with CAL, and look for a prospect and a couple of picks? Maybe EDM would be a player? Or TOR supposedly is willing to do just about anything to come up and get Bennett. Lots of variables at this point. But I'm going to go conservative with my off-season moves. Assuming FLA winds up selecting Ekblad...
#2 BFLO: Sam Reinhart: My love of Rino is well-documented. He's got the best head for the game in the Draft, he is a pinpoint passer who makes all the guys around him better. Yes, not dominant physically, doesn't wow you with strength or booming open-ice checks. But BFLO hasn't had a guy like him in a long, long time. And they're weak at the C.
Later, BFLO targets moving up. Eventually, Murray uses #31 and #49 to move up to #22. My guess is at #22, one of the following is available: Vrana, Scherbak, or Larkin. My preferences are in that order. In the interest of playing fair, let’s split the difference.
#22 BFLO: Niki Scherbak: A bit of the Russian Discount here, Scherbak came out of nowhere and made a big impression his first year in NA. Big, quick, agile but not fast, great anticipation, nice hands. Good IQ, enthusiastic, puck pursuit very good. Upside is high. Could be a career 3rd liner, or could be top line winger that puts up 75 pts. Needs to get stronger, but has plenty of size.
As the start of the 2nd Round approaches, Murray makes another shrewd move. He uses #39 and #61 to slide up to #32. Hoping some combination of Honka, Pollock or MacInnis are available at the spot. Again, splitting the difference.
#32 BFLO: Brett Pollock: Big, strong center who plays with power. A good but not great skater, has been on an upwards trajectory for the last 2/3 of the season until he kind of ran out of gas at the Memorial Cup. Good stick, does work in the corners, defensive game a bit unknown as he’s not had to face many of the top centers in the W. Very good hands. Plays better without the puck, still developing a possession game but has a lot of tools. Conditioning suspect.
After a long break between the 2nd and the 4th round, things get going. Again Murray makes a move, grabbing quality over quantity. He uses #121 and #151 to move up to #102 and select a player who I think has been better than Anton Karlsson, at least the 2nd half of this year. He’s also got tremendous size at 6’4, 185.
#102 BFLO: Pierre Engvall: Huge winger who put up nearly a PPG for Frolunda’s SuperElit team. Big, tough, fearsome along the wall. Defensively responsible, plays a strong 2-way game, not great hands, but offensively aware, a very good skater, accurate shot and someone who could really develop into a stud.
Lastly, BFLO has a 7th Rounder where they’re just hoping for someone who can contribute organizationally. I don’t know if my guy will still be left, but let’s hope.
#181 BFLO: Pius Suter: Serious speed to burn, and has time to get bigger – he’s on the small side - and should put up much better #s this coming year (he did go for 8 pts in 15 games in the CHL playoffs) as he moves up from a bottom to a Top 6 role. He’s a smaller, and potentially more offensively skilled, version of Clark Bishop. Could be a great PK’er.
So even in a less-than-ideal world, BFLO comes out with, IMO, the top winger in the class, two big, strong centers, a hardworking winger with serious offensive upside, and a pair of depth players, one of whom fits in with Murray’s commitment to getting bigger and harder on the puck. And they don’t sacrifice anything from 2015 or their current crop of youth.
BFLO elects to play it safe in FA, but they have some major holes to fill on the back-end. First, they re-sign the following RFAs:
They then re-sign the following UFAs:
Additionally, they sign the following UFAs:
They retool their D on the cheap, get to keep their bright young prospects down for a while to give them some more seasoning, and they exceed the cap floor, coming in at just over $53m.
Opening Day Roster:
Opening Day ROCH Roster:
Risto – Bagnall
McCabe – Rudy
MacKenzie – Austin