Here we go again - the 2017 NHL Entry Draft is upon us and it’s a pretty momentous one for the Buffalo Sabres as it’s the first under new General Manager Jason Botterill and Head Coach Phil Housley.
GMBot is going to be hard-pressed to keep his picks as terse and to the point as GMTM did, but change is inevitable and we await breathlessly to see what the Sabres will do today.
Click the first link below for draft profiles and videos on the top players in today’s first round.
How to Watch (1st Round)
Date: Friday June 24
Start time: 7:00 PM EST
TV: NBCSN (USA) or Sportsnet (Canada)
Online stream: NBCSports Live (coverage starts at 6:30pm)
The Sabres have seven picks in this year’s draft: R1 8th (#8), R2 6th (#37), R2 23rd (#54), R3 27th (#89), R4 6th (#99), R6 6th (#161), R7 6th (#192).
Draft Order & Picks (1st Round)
1. New Jersey Devils - Nico Hischier
Bit of a surprise there? To some, maybe. First Swiss-born player to go #1 in the Draft. Comparable is ... Pavel Datsyuk? Whoa!
2. Philadelphia Flyers - Nolan Patrick
Flyers get their Claude Giroux long-term replacement, and he falls right into their laps. Talk about luck. Eric Staal comparable.
3. Dallas Stars - Miro Heiskanen
Stars do the smart thing (!) and don’t buy into the Cale Makar hype. Scott Neidermaier (??) & Niklas Lindstrom are the comparables.
4. Colorado Avalanche - Cale Makar
The dman rush has begun then?! Makar has raced up the charts in the last few weeks, getting compared to scoring machine Erik Karlsson.
5. Vancouver Canucks - Elias Pettersson
Elite kid can play everywhere across the line, incredible skill set. Comparable is Ryan Johanssen, patience and poise with the puck.
6. Vegas Golden Knights - Cody Glass
First pick in franchise history, last name quite appropriate for the city. Comparable is Mark Scheifele, can play at NHL pace we hear.
7. New York Rangers (from Arizona Coyotes) - Lias Andersson
Swiss Army knife-type player. comparable is the scrappy Chris Kunitz. Might be able to play in the NHL this year.
8. Buffalo Sabres - Casey Mittelstadt
No trade down. The highest ranked American skater in the Draft. Great hands, silky smooth, blows right around players with world-class speed, something the Sabres desperately need. But... disastrous combine, failed on multiple physical fronts. Needs strength and conditioning.
9. Detroit Red Wings - Michael Rasmussen
Giant center, the Red Wings have always liked the Scandinavians. Comparables are Tomas Holmstrom and Anders Lee.
10. Florida Panthers - Owen Tippett
Elite goalscorer, considered best in the draft, getting compared to Phil Kessel.
11. Los Angeles Kings - Gabe Vilardi
Did the Kings ever dream that Vilardi would still be available when they picked? Big center, can score but skating is suspect. Was expected to go top five.
12. Carolina Hurricanes - Martin Necas
Claude Giroux comparable, highly commended for his hockey IQ, given 5 out of 5 there. Strength the question mark.
13. Vegas Golden Knights (from Winnipeg Jets) - Nick Suzuki
Just when we’re talking about Vegas not being the city renowned for good decision-making.. small forward goes a bit (?) earlier than expected.
14. Tampa Bay Lightning - Cal Foote
Another defenseman finally, and it’s Adam Foote’s son. American-born, big size, good hockey sense. Colton Parayko comparison.
15. Vegas Golden Knights (from New York Islanders) - Erik Brannstrom
Needs some time to physically mature, but considered to be a good dman in the Ghost-bear mold.
16. Calgary Flames - Juuso Valimaki
Played two full years in the WHL, third dman in a row. Workhorse defenseman like Mark Giordano, about a year ago.
17. Toronto Maple Leafs - Timothy Liljegren
Sixth dman taken in the top seventeen, bet Leafs didn’t think he’d still be around. Quick, but some question marks about his defensive ability and hockey sense, no surprise why he climbed then dropped as the draft got closer.
18. Boston Bruins - Urho Vaakanainen
Exceptional skater, continues the defenseman streak going. Jonas Brodin comparable in style, strong defensive dman.
19. San Jose Sharks - Josh Norris
3rd American selected today, center projected to be an Alexander Barkov type player. Maybe not a top line player, but top six level. His ‘troll game’ is good, if you were watching the TV broadcast.
20. St. Louis Blues - Robert Thomas
You know he’s so smoooooth... centerman with skills and the points to match, but not considered to be a goalscorer, something the Blues could use.
21. New York Rangers - Filip Chytil
Czech center who has good hockey sense and skating ability, just made the Draft by a few days, climbed the rankings from the mid-70s. Did the Rags reach?
22. Edmonton Oilers - Kailer Yamamoto
‘Smiling assassin’ - exceptional skating ability, makes sense to add him to a team with McDavid. Shortest first round pick ever, and likely lightest as well. Eek.
23. Arizona Coyotes (from Minnesota Wild) - Pierre-Olivier Joseph
Long and lean defenseman, can transition the puck, won’t be an elite defenseman. Love seeing GM Chayka at the Draft, he looks like he could be drafted himself at one of these affairs.
24. Winnipeg Jets (from Columbus Blue Jackets/Vegas Golden Knights) - Kristian Vesalainen
Another Finnish player in the first round, this winger was the 2017 Under-18 World Championships MVP, solid power forward.
25. Montreal Canadiens - Ryan Poehling
Habs pick a center, Minnesota kid, Jordan Staal comparable. Has to work on his skating, and speed is not great, will need time to develop.
26. Chicago Blackhawks - TRADE!!
Dallas Stars give up 29th & 70th to climb up in the first round to pick up the first goalie of the draft! Jake Oettinger will need time to develop, comparable is Martin Jones, will sit behind Ben Bishop, playing at Boston University (Go Terriers!) right now.
27. St. Louis Blues (from Washington Capitals) - BACK-TO-BACK TRADES!!
Whoa! Blues get Brayden Schenn and give up the 27th pick, Jori Lehtera and a 2018 conditional pick. Philadelphia Flyers pick another center Morgan Frost, smart player who isn’t necessarily skilled but is where he is required on the ice - comparable is Thomas Plekanec.
28. Ottawa Senators - Shane Bowers
Center expected to be good in time, very dependable, Elias Lindholm comparable, not necessarily much offensive upside. Projected two-way center.
29. Chicago Blackhawks (from Anaheim Ducks/Dallas Stars) - Henri Jokiharju
The hosts go D, fifth Finn selected in the first round today, four of them dmen. Lack of height is mentioned often, but has good hockey sense.
30. Nashville Predators - Eeli Tolvanen
The right winger fell from where he was expected to go, tremendous goalscorer who can replace James Neal. Comparable is Vladimir Tarasenko, so the expectations are high on the player.
31. Pittsburgh Penguins - TRADE!!
Blues trade back into the first round, giving up a 51st pick and Ryan Reaves for the spot plus Oskar Sundqvist. They select Klim Kostin (of course!), just when we were starting to talk about a possible trade up to go get him. Mad skill level of course, dedicated to playing in the NHL, big strong and physical. Dropped so far because of January shoulder surgery, and the ‘Russian factor’.
Apologies if I got it wrong on any of the bios, was listening to the NBCSN broadcast.