NHL Mock Draft 2022: Buffalo Sabres select Brad Lambert with No. 16 pick

Lambert should be a prime target for the Sabres.

The sheer brilliance of Melissa to be able to hold out and get Lambert at 16 has me giddy. I would’ve never had the patience to wait until 16 and would’ve pulled the trigger at 9.

I wrote a lot about Lambert here for Expected Buffalo, but I really want to dig into the rationale behind why I think Lambert deserves to be one of the first names off the board and should be a prime target for the Buffalo Sabres.

There are a lot of reports and secondary sources to dig into that I will just give a basic summation of Brad Lambert and his Liiga play. He has good size, amazing speed and skill, and great transition ability. However, his Liiga tape is inconsistent at best and pretty awful at worst. I’m not going to sit here and make excuses for Lambert’s Liiga play as I think others in this space are doing a great job of explaining his Liiga play.

I will challenge on the merits of his u20 play, though. When focusing only on his u20 play for Finland this past year it’s really hard to argue that he wasn’t the best player on the ice at each of his World Junior games (and possibly one of the best in the tournament through the first two games) and in the exhibition games he played in April.

While points rarely came to Lambert in the Liiga: they came to him in bunches at the u20 level. He has 5 points through 2 World Juniors’ games and was almost a point per game in the exhibition games. In the exhibition games he did what he wanted with the puck on his stick and easily could’ve had 4-5 more points in the games I was watching.

You don’t find players with his raw tools and speed outside the top 5 of a normal draft. Let alone finding a player that excels playing center and transitioning the puck.

He overhandles the puck sometimes, but I’d argue that the positive plays that come out from that far outweigh the negative. He can make the wrong read in the offensive zone. At least he’s trying to make plays. Any other criticism I don’t agree with, especially anything to do with his defensive game as he is very engaged as a center in all three zone.

If Lambert is there in a week at #16, I hope the Sabres sprint to the podium to announce his name.

Here is how the first 15 picks before Buffalo went -

1. Shane Wright — Montreal Canadiens

2. Logan Cooley — New Jersey Devils

3. Juraj Slafkovsky — Arizona Coyotes

4. Simon Nemec — Seattle Kraken

5. David Jiricek — Philadelphia Flyers

6. Cutter Gauthier — Columbus Blue Jackets

7. Joakim Kemell — Ottawa Senators

8. Matthew Savoie — Detroit Red Wings

9. Conor Geekie — Buffalo Sabres

10. Kevin Korchinski - Anaheim Ducks

11. Jonathan Lekkerimaki — San Jose Sharks

12. Frank Nazar — Columbus Blue Jackets

13. Marco Kasper — New York Islanders

14. Danila Yurov — Winnipeg Jets

15. Liam Ohgren — Vancouver Canucks