The past two years the names the Sabres were looking at were pretty well known. In 2014, the talk was about which Sam, Reinhart or Bennett, the Sabres would take. Last year's lottery settled where Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel would go. When the Sabres finished second, you knew who would be playing for the team the second the Oilers logo came out of the envelope.
This year is a bit different, as the Sabres will take someone who is a bit more anonymous outside the junior hockey scene.
Luckily for the Sabres they could still address their biggest need, as the three top defenseman in the draft are both projected to go around the Sabres' selection. Get to know Olli Juolevi, Mikhail Sergachev and Jacob Chychrun, the two-way defensemen that are attracting headlines this year. TSN has them ranked seventh, eighth and ninth in their lastest draft rankings.
Juolevi is a Finnish-born defenseman who is known for his strong hockey sense. He scored nine goals and 33 assists in 57 games with the London Knights this season. He averaged more than a point-a-game, nine assists, in his seven games with Finland at the 2016 World Junior Championships.
Sergachev is a 6-foot-2 200 lbs. left-handed defenseman from Russia. He played his first season in North America this year, scoring 17 goals and 40 assists in 67 games for the Windsor Spitfires. He went scoreless in five games with Russia at the World Juniors.
Chychrun has spent the past two seasons with the Sarnia Sting in the OHL, scoring 11 goals and 38 assists in 62 games in 2016. He played for Canada at the U-18s, scoring one goal and three assists in seven games. He was a surprising late cut to the World Junior roster.
So although the Sabres didn't leave the set as lottery winners tonight, all is not lost. The Sabres could get another piece that can help them win, and someone at a position they desperately need. As I mentioned in the lottery post, the eighth spot is where the Sabres drafted Rasmus Ristolainen. I'd take another one of those, please.