It’s almost time! With the draft only a day away Kevyn Adams has a few questions he’ll need to answer as he navigates the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. The Buffalo Sabres enter the draft with three firsts and 11 picks total. Adams will face one of the more unpredictable drafts we’ve seen in recent memory. Buffalo has begun to turn the corner but still has holes in the organization they need to fill. How Adams answers these three questions will have a major impact on the Sabres future.
Draft Best Player Available or Need?
Buffalo is lacking organizational depth at some key spots. The question is, when do these spots get addressed? They have an opportunity with 11 picks to add an influx of talent in some high areas of need. Through his first two drafts Kevin Adams has seemed to go with the best player available. He’s selected only three defenseman so far and going into this season Buffalo only has 4 defenseman in the pipeline. Buffalo has also not selected a goalie but has selected 8 wingers. With the lack of diversity in positions drafted by Adams he has shown so far he is not willing to deviate from the board to draft a perceived need.
Part of that reasoning could be because Adam’s felt the organization's pipeline was so weak he couldn’t afford to pass on guys Buffalo had high on their list. Going into Thursday he’ll have to answer this same question again, best player available or positional need? I fully expect Buffalo to get the best player available early in the draft, but what will happen in the middle rounds if they have a winger higher on their list then a defenseman, center, or goalie? Right now Buffalo has a plethora of wingers in the system and very few centers, defenseman, and goalies. How Adams balances his board and the organization's positional need will be one of the more interesting things to follow on day 2 of the draft.
Will Buffalo be Aggressive?
With all the draft capital Buffalo has and young talent they’ve accumulated Buffalo can be as aggressive as they want Thursday and Friday. Listening to Adams’s comments this offseason, a big trade involving a lot of picks or young players doesn’t seem likely. I have stated many times I believe it is the right course of action. But that doesn’t mean Adam’s won’t make any trades on Thursday or Friday. Last year he was obviously very busy dealing away some of the previous core. While the splash trades may not happen, this year there could be more trades like we saw in 2020 when Buffalo moved up a few spots to take JJ Peterka.
As I mentioned earlier, Buffalo has a very lopsided system right now. If Adams isn’t set on using all his picks this year he may look at smaller moves to go grab a player of need who is also high on their board. Buffalo is uniquely positioned having a first at the top of round one, middle of the round, and end of the first round. Moving up at 16 or 28 would likely not cost much if they saw a player they valued and didn't want to roll the dice on him being there when they pick. What might make more sense is making a move later in the draft where they have a longer wait in between picks. Which brings Adams to his toughest question.
Where are the Talent Drop Offs?
There seems to be a general consensus who the first 6 players will be on Thursday. After that, you have a wide range of opinions on who could be selected next. Where Adams and the scouting department need to be great is identifying the talent drop offs and utilizing their 11 selections. Opinions on this draft are wide ranging, some analysts believe there will be close to 50 players that will have a first round grade from at least one team. Only the Sabres front office knows how many guys have a first round grade in their eyes. But there is a high likelihood they could draft 4 players they view as first round talents.
Another general consensus is there is good talent in this draft that goes into the third round followed by a pretty steep drop off. While that bodes well for pick 74, pick 106 could be a player they’re far less excited about. How Kevyn Adams and Jerry Forton view the talent drop offs will determine how many late round selections they want to hold on to and how many they want to deal in a potential move up.