I’ve broken down the 2005-2007 Sabres draft picks and compared Buffalo’s selections to those players who were still left on the board. I’ll finish my study by reviewing the 2008-2010 classes.
1st round – 12 & 26
Sabres picks: Tyler Myers & Tyler Ennis Revised Picks: Jordan Eberle (21) and John Carlson (27) – With the jury still out on Myers and Ennis these picks could certainly go down as great choices and not need to be second guessed. If they were to be second guessed, however, Eberle and Carlson would meet the Sabres needs well.
2nd round – 44
Sabres pick: Luke Adam Revised pick: Derek Stepan (51) – A slightly undersized centerman, Stepan has enjoyed a more impressive development curve than Adam who is still finding his way in the professional ranks. With Adam’s time possibly drawing to a close, Stepan would look much better for the Sabres.
3rd round – 81
Sabres pick: Corey Fienhage Revised pick: Adam Henrique (82) – Another fine NHL prospect taken one pick after a miss by the Sabres. Henrique is likely a second round talent in any sort of redraft and would most certainly serve the Sabres better than Fienhage did.
4th round – 101 & 104
Sabres picks: Justin Jokinen & Jordan Southhorn Revised picks: Gustav Nyquist (121) & Anders Lindback (207) – Considering I pulled a couple of goalie prosepects off the heap with previous choices, Lindback would not only be a necessity for the pipeline but a terrific darkhorse prospect for the Sabres to own. Nyquist has looked dynamic while Jokinen and Southhorn are non-impact choices.
5th round – 134
Sabres pick: Jacob Legace Revised pick: Jared Spurgeon (156) – Simple trade off of a fringe minor league winger for an NHL regular here.
6th round – 164
Sabres pick: Nick Crawford Revised pick: Tommy Wingels (177) – While Crawford has given the Sabres some minor league depth, Wingels is playing regularly for the Sharks. Simply basing this off NHL impact, Wingels is the choice over Crawford.
1st round – 13
Sabres pick: Zack Kassian Revised pick: Ryan O’Reilly (33) – All of these picks are being made without consideration of what a traded prospect returned (ex. Paul Byron). If you’re weighing this on Kassian turning into Cody Hodgson it is a different scenario. Simply speaking, O’Reilly would be a great fit on the Sabres based on their current makeup.
3rd round – 66
Sabres pick: Brayden McNabb Revised pick: Casey Cizikas (92) – This one I definitely would leave as is. McNabb was a nice selection in the third round and has evolved a pretty reliable two-way game. His physicality is noticeable and I think he has a bright future with the organization.
4th round – 104 & 134
Sabres picks: Marcus Foligno & Mark Adams Revised Picks: Marcus Kruger (149) & Darcy Kuemper (161) – There is really only a need for one new selection here. Foligno appears to be molding into a fine talent who should find a role as a physical, power forward in Buffalo. Adams looks like a reach at this point while Kruger has become a penalty killing ace and Kuemper may just be the goalie in waiting for the Wild.
6th round – 164
Sabres pick: Connor Knapp Revised Pick: Eric Wellwood – It would appear that Knapp isn’t going to turn into an NHL goalie. Wellwood has been up and down between the NHL and AHL which is more than Knapp will likely bring.
7th round – 194
Buffalo selected Maxime Legault late in the seventh round and there wasn’t any players picked beyond him which would make a difference. A similar situation to 2007.
As I first began sifting through the 2010 draft I quickly noticed that there wasn’t enough background on most of the players to make a firm determination if certain picks were misses. Mark Pysyk certainly looks to be the real deal but the rest of the class is lacking. Steven Shipley, Gregg Sutch, Cedrick Henley and Riley Boychuk didn’t pan out for the Sabres. However, there aren’t many other players from this class who have broken into the league. Brendan Gallagher (147th overall) is the best example, but he is very much an exception thus far.
While a majority of the 2010 class turned into duds, the Sabres till have Christian Isackson (7th round), Jerome Gauthier-Leduc, Kevin Sundher and Matt MacKenzie (all 3rd round) in the system. There is probably still a year or two before that trio can be called a hit or miss.