2012 NHL Draft: Load Up For Next Year?

This might be a controversial hot topic, but it is one worth discussing. Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula and President Ted Black have spoken previously of a three-year plan to win it all. The just-concluded season was Year One of that plan. One assumes that the first year went in recognizing what was currently available to the Sabres in-house as part of the preparations for the goal in mind. Some personnel changes took place but it was more the off-ice activities that caught the eye: the new locker-room being the centerpiece of the move to make Buffalo an amenable destination for hockey players that wanted to win it all. Call it the 'Lessons Learned' phase of the three-year plan.

With the upcoming draft, we are now entering the middle, and possibly the most crucial, part of this plan. The Sabres are looking to win now. This could mean that they will not be looking to draft long-term prospects that could take anywhere between 2-4 years before they even make it up to Buffalo. There appears to be very little elite-level talent in this draft outside the top 6-10 that could step in immediately and make a difference. So it would make sense if the Sabres would use some of their nine draft picks as part of package deals to recruit players currently on NHL rosters they have identified that could fit in this the team and how they are hoping to play.

However, how about if the Sabres picked up what they can find in this draft, but parlayed some of the picks into picks for next year? More after the jump.

The Year Two needs to be the 'Moves Made' phase, where all the elements for a lengthy Cup-run are brought in line. The July 1st Free Agent group is pretty bare this year, especially where the Sabres' needs go. Whatever moves that need to be made will have to be done via trades. And as always, players/prospects + picks is the currency that runs the trades.

As much as all the fans want the Sabres to win the Cup now, it really would not make sense to completely mortgage the future in that attempt by trading away high picks and prospects in the farm system. The Sabres need a big, playmaking center - that is their one main need that overrides all else. The other pieces to the puzzle, the Dwight King - Trevor Lewis - Justin Williams - Alec Martinez types do not take much in the way of resources to acquire. Darcy Regier and his team would be hard-pressed to find the happy medium where they have spent some but saved enough to ensure that they are not a one-and-done team.

Consensus across the League has it that the 2013 NHL Draft is going to be far deeper than the current one, and while it might not have the depth of this year's 1st round defensemen class, there will be more elite talent in it. As always, placing your bets on prospects is like putting your entire 401k on crude oil futures - you're pretty sure it'll pay off but if some new form of energy takes off in a big way, then your kids are paying their own way through college.

That leaves Year Three for 'Fine Tuning', for tweaking the team and winning it all. The talent is available in the Draft next year for those minor additions and caulking the remaining holes in the side. But will the Sabres still have any currency come 2013? What if Year Two doesn't go according to plan, does the ownership blow it all up and start again? Let's hear your thoughts.

What should the Sabres do with their four picks in the first two rounds in the 2012 NHL Draft?

Package picks to go higher in the 2012 NHL Draft21
Package picks to have more in the 2013 NHL Draft26
Package picks to trade for current NHL players96