Thirteen years ago today, the NHL held its 2005 NHL Entry Draft. The two-day draft was held in Ottawa, with the draft order determined by lottery (thanks to that pesky lockout). This was the first year the draft had only seven rounds compared to nine, and the lottery saw teams assigned balls based on playoff appearances & first-overall picks from the three years prior.
Of course, the Pittsburgh Penguins picked up Sidney Crosby with the first-overall selection, which has been an historic moment for their franchise, perhaps akin to how selecting Rasmus Dahlin will turn out to be for the Sabres. To date, Crosby has notched over 1,000 points and won three Stanley Cups, all with Pittsburgh.
The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim picked up Bobby Ryan with the second-overall pick, and Jack Johnson went to the Carolina Hurricanes third overall. Ryan played five seasons in Anaheim before being traded; Johnson never played a game with Carolina, as his rights were traded just over a year post-draft.
There’s a lot to be said about hindsight when it comes to draft players. Sometimes the guys you expect to pan out and contribute to your team get traded not longer after; sometimes they never make it to the NHL at all, and sometimes, the guys you thought nothing major of turn out to be solid players down the stretch.
That being said, in hindsight, the 2005 NHL Draft for the Buffalo Sabres was... well.... not a great one.
Here are the Sabres picks from 13 years ago and how they panned out:
Marek Zagrapan (13) - Never played an NHL game; Zagrapan spent three seasons with Rochester/Portland in the AHL between 2006-09 before going overseas. He hasn’t looked back since. He most recently played for Winterthur EHC in the Swiss league, putting up 21 points in 32 games last season.
Philip Gogulla (48) - Never played an NHL game; Gogulla spent one season, 2009-10, with Portland in the AHL. Other than that brief stint in North America, he’s played with Kölner Haie every season since 2005. This past season, he put up 31 points in 51 games.
Marc-Andre Gragnani (87) - Gragnani spent several years going back and forth between the Sabres’ NHL squad and their AHL team in Portland. He appeared in 64 games for Buffalo between 2007 and 2012. Since then, he’s spent time with the Canucks, Hurricanes and Devils organizations but has spent the last two years with HC Dinamo Minsk in the KHL.
Chris Butler (95) - Butler spent part of three seasons in Buffalo between 2008 and 2011, appearing in 162 NHL games for the Sabres but never making too much of an impact overall. He’s one of the few on this list who are still in the NHL system today, as he spent most of last season with San Antonio (St. Louis) in the AHL.
Nathan Gerbe (142) - Gerbe is the longest-tenured Sabres player on this list, even though he hasn’t been with the team since 2013. He spent several seasons in the Buffalo system between 2008 and 2013, including playing in 197 NHL games with the Sabres, putting up 76 points. He’s since played with Carolina, did a brief stint overseas and is back with Cleveland (Columbus) in the AHL.
Adam Dennis (182) - Never played an NHL game; appeared in 94 games with Rochester/Portland between 2006 and 2009. Dennis played overseas, in Italy, Germany and Austria, but hasn’t played professionally since 2014. He now works with the North Bay Battallion in the Ontario Hockey League.
Vyacheslav Buravchikov (191) - Never played an NHL game or any games in North America. Played with Mytishchi Khimik, Kazan Ak-Bars and CSKA Moscow after the draft but hasn’t played professionally since 2013.
Matt Generous (208) - Never played an NHL game; after four years at St. Lawrence, appeared in 68 games for Portland (AHL) between 2008-10. He then played with Reading (ECHL) and Lake Erie (AHL) before heading overseas. Generous played last season with Salzburg HC in Austria, where the defenseman put up six points (2-4) and was a plus-2 with 44 penalty minutes.
Andrew Orpik (227) - Never played a game in the Sabres system or in the NHL; after four years at Boston College, he played briefly in the ECHL and AHL in 2009-11 with Las Vegas/Wheeling and San Antonio/Wilkes-Barre. The East Amherst native hung up the skates following this and became a real estate broker and also coaches youth hockey.
Other than those big “top three,” here are some other players from the 2005 NHL Draft who turned out to be solid NHL players: Carey Price (5), Tuukka Rask (21), Paul Stastny (44), Kris Letang (62), Vladimir Sobotka (106), Ryan Reaves (156), Patric Hornqvist (230).