The voice of new Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams projected throughout television sets across North America – “the Buffalo Sabres are proud to announce, from the Ottawa 67’s of the Ontario Hockey League..”
A fanbase found themselves ready to erupt at the potential of a prospect in Marco Rossi, who “plays an NHL ready type of game” per Ottawa 67’s head coach André Tourigny, falling to the Sabres.
Instead, the next words out of Adams’ mouth?
Minutes later, Quinn’s teammate Marco Rossi was selected ninth overall by the Minnesota Wild.
Two players linked by their status as teammates are now forever linked due to the order in which they found themselves welcomed into the National Hockey League.
On the surface, it was a big moment for the Ottawa 67’s organization, who see two of their players drafted in the first round for the first time since 1997 and two of their players get drafted in the top-10 for the first time, in the same draft, since 1978.
Some Sabres fans found themselves up-in-arms over the pick of Quinn at eighth overall, while others took a “glass half full” approach with Adams’ first pick as a general manager.
Many who find themselves underwhelmed by the Quinn pick point to an argument of “want versus need”.
The Sabres need to fill the pipeline with goal-scoring wingers, while feeling that selecting Rossi would have ultimately reflected a want and the old “best player available” approach.
I wouldn't have taken Jack Quinn before Marco Rossi, myself. pic.twitter.com/QsTF4C0Cgk— Byron Bader (@ByronMBader) October 7, 2020
Rossi has shown his ability to not only perform highly at the OHL level, but an ability to improve on that good performance.
In 2018-19, Rossi tallied 65 points (29 goals, 36 assists) in 53 games. One season later, in 2019-20, Rossi tallied 120 points (39+81) and was named the OHL’s Most Outstanding Player.
On the flip-side, Quinn put up a modest 32 points (12+20) in 61 games during the 2018-19 season. A season later, Quinn would amass 89 points (52+37) and impress many scouts.
The worry about Quinn out of the gate is wondering out loud whether or not he is a one-year wonder.
As mentioned, Quinn missed out on the 2019 NHL Entry Level Draft by four days.
While he took full advantage of his 2019-20 OHL season, the thought creeps into your head as to whether or not it was aided by Quinn’s advanced age.
Some have suspected that had Quinn entered last year’s draft, his stock would have been much lower than it ended up being in 2020. Timing, especially in this case, is everything.
Another potential issue that continues to be brought up is a never-ending reliance on Jack Eichel’s top-end star power.
As the Sabres continue to struggle to score goals and make a dent in the National Hockey League, management appears to be content with surrounding Eichel with players that he has to in turn drive the line for.
While that is a fine asset to have, the Sabres do not have many more players (if any) that can drive an offensive line on their own.
An attempt is being made this offseason to again diversify their goal scoring by acquiring Eric Staal from the Minnesota Wild, among other things, but it has been quite some time since the Sabres last had multiple lines that threatened offensively.
Rossi’s ability to score and also dish the puck to others shows potential that has the ability to translate to the NHL. Scouts love Rossi for this reason.
Quinn is “the best goal scorer available in this draft,” according to TSN’s Director of Scouting, Craig Button. It remains fair to wonder if that goal scoring ability will translate to the NHL because of that aforementioned one-year offensive explosion in Quinn’s age-19 season.
At the end of the day, on paper, Rossi was the safer, more explosive pick because scouts have seen his potential ceiling. Quinn, on the other hand, only had one big season in the OHL before being drafted.
It truly feels like the beating of a dead horse here, but the concerns are legitimate.
Could Quinn become a 30-goal scorer in the National Hockey League? Sure. Could Quinn flame out and end up being a bottom-six depth body? Sure.
Despite the potential hesitation on Quinn, the 67’s general manager James Boyd had nothing but excellent things to say to the Ottawa Sun earlier this month.
“He’s been working on his whole game,” Boyd said. “It’s not just the goal scoring, his whole game has evolved. He’s a 200-foot player who scored 50 goals.
“You’d never say you would imagine that sort of development. You hope that that sort of development is going to take place, but our coaching staff has always been big Jack Quinn believers, even back to his first training camp.”
While Quinn’s picking will always be tied to Rossi, there is no doubt that Quinn will be given as many opportunities as possible to succeed. The sky is the limit for the young talent, but he will need to work as hard in Rochester and Buffalo as he did with the Ottawa 67’s if he wants to find a long-term home in the NHL.