Can the Sabres Be Picky At The Draft?

Via Lindy Ruffs Tie @LindyRuffsTie

Via Lindy Ruffs Tie @LindyRuffsTie

As we know, the gears are always turning behind the sour visage of Buffalo Sabres General Manager Tim Murray. We’re closing in on the NHL trade deadline, and Murray is sitting on his treasure trove of prospects and draft picks like a king, perched upon his gilded throne, surveying his kingdom of talent. Just like servants of such a king, we go about our daily business with our heads down, so as not to draw unwanted attention, but in the dankest corners of the darkest taverns, we’re all wondering: What will he do with his riches?

buffalohockeybeat

What does it take to get this man to smile? Photo from buffalohockeybeat.com

As it stands, the Sabres have three first-round picks in this summer’s NHL Entry Draft – Buffalo has their pick, as well as the picks obtained from St. Louis and the Islanders in last season’s trades. While many teams would be shopping those picks to begin ramping up for the home stretch of the season, it is obvious that the Sabres front office is quite comfortable with their slot at the bottom of the standings – they’re not looking to get better before the end of the season, and so the season will likely end with those draft picks tucked neatly away in Murray’s war chest. Obviously, Buffalo is in prime position to pick up wunderkind Connor McDavid with the first pick overall – Buffalo is an 81% chance to finish last in the league, and to have the best shot at McDavid. In the current standings, the pick from St. Louis would be 25th in the draft and the Isles’ pick would be 27th. Let’s take a look at the prospects who seem to fall into this range.

Recently, NHL Central Scouting posted their midseason rankings. This guide is not a bible by any means; each team has its own needs that the GM will seek to address, and so the draft may not reflect these rankings at all. It does, however, give teams a good look at how the talent stacks up; it is likely that GMs have their eyes on certain players and this scouting report helps to assess these individuals against the other players available at that position. In the rankings, Nicolas Roy is 25th and Colin White is 27th.

Introducing: Nicolas Roy.  Photo from eliteprospects.com

Introducing: Nicolas Roy. Photo from eliteprospects.com

Roy is a 6’4″ Center who currently plays in the QMJHL for the Chicoutimi Sagueneens. At the time of writing, Roy has 29 points in 45 games. He was the first overall pick in the QMJHL draft but did not play for the team that chose him and was traded to a team closer to where he grew up. Sagueneens’ head coach, Patrick Bosch, is complimentary of Roy’s vision, stating, “He’s so smart on the ice; he does things and sees things other players don’t see. Us as coaches on the bench, we don’t know how he sees what he sees. He has amazing vision and incredible hands.” Roy’s coach indicated that he needs to work on his shot and his speed, but Roy has indicated that his summer programs will focus on addressing these potential weaknesses. Roy doesn’t generally play on the penalty kill for the Chicoutimi team, so one can expect that his offensive game is stronger than his defensive game – another opportunity for development in the coming years. Though, if Roy were to play his way into a first-line center position, it is likely he would not be expected to be a part of the PK unit.

Did you get to see White at the FNC last fall? Photo from thescoutingreport.com

Did you get to see White at the FNC last fall? Photo from thescoutingreport.com

Colin White is a 6” C/RW who has spent the last few years in the US National Hockey Program. Buffalo got a glimpse at white when he and his USA Hockey teammates (which include Jack Eichel) played an exhibition game at the First Niagara Center this past September. White will complete his time with the development program this year and will follow in Eichel’s footsteps, signing on to play at Boston College for the upcoming season. White began to catch the eyes of scouts when he tore up the U17 tournament held in Canada to begin 2014, where he scored 18 points in 6 games. He has continued to be a consistent scoring threat for the U18 team, with 24 points in 25 games so far in the 2014-2015 campaign. White is smallish – weighing in at less than 185. He’ll need to put on some weight at BC, but his play may elevate his ranking once draft time rolls around. According to a mock draft posted to NHL.com on 01/26/2015, Buffalo could take White 25th, challenging his scout ranking. Like Eichel before him, White’s time at BC could be a definitive advantage and may have everyone in Buffalo rooting for a Boston team for the first time in a very long time.

DeBrusk went from B-List prospect to potential 1st round pick.  Photo from ca.yahoosports.com

DeBrusk went from B-List prospect to potential 1st round pick. Photo from ca.yahoosports.com

According to this same draft, outlined by NHL.com’s Mike Morreale, Roy actually falls out of the first round, and Morreale predicts that the Sabres would take LW Jake DeBrusk with the Islander’s pick. Scouting has DeBrusk ranked 24th overall in their midseason report – better than both of the previous prospects listed here. The Edmonton native currently plays for the Swift Current Broncos of the WHL and is having a point-per-game season so far with the Broncs. He began the season on the ‘B-List,’ according to NHL scouting, but his current play has him going in the first round of the draft. DeBrusk, who compares himself to Leafs’ forward Joffrey Lupul, is an offensive-minded player with an obvious scoring touch. He is small – 5”11’, 177lbs, but the Sabres have plenty of size. A young, nimble forward could be just what the doctor ordered for a team that is dismally miles behind the competition in goal differential. Maybe a couple of DeBrusk goals will actually put a smile on Murray’s face.

The Sabres return this week following a brief all-star break to face a tough Western Canada road trip. It seems that we’ve almost run out of words to describe the terrible play of the team, as predicted by Greg Wyshynski on the Marek vs Wyshynski podcast all those weeks ago. While you can expect the weekly recaps, I will also be turning my attention toward the potentially brighter future and trying to post some info on potential draft prospects, current Sabres prospects, and how the team could develop in the next few years as we begin to build a potential champion. Of course, it’s all speculation, but it’s a lot more fun than another 5-0 loss, right?

Find me on twitter: @SchlagsWrites and facebook here!

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3 Comments on “Can the Sabres Be Picky At The Draft?”

  1. erikwollschlager January 30, 2015 at 9:33 am #

    Reblogged this on ewollschlager and commented:

    A quick look at the Sabres’ potential late round draft picks

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Evander Kane: Blue and Gold or Dead and Cold? | What's Going On In Buffalo? Find Out! - February 11, 2015

    […] there are two players in the draft that could easily replace Lemieux – Collin DeBrusk (covered here) and Jordan Greenway, who is featured in an upcoming piece. The problem is that we’ve given up […]

  2. Greenway AND Eichel? Let’s Go Buffalo, Indeed. | What's Going On In Buffalo? Find Out! - March 3, 2015

    […] jump him a few spots onto the Sabres’ draftboard. If both Boeser and Jake DeBrusk (written about here) are available, I think Murray chooses DeBrusk, but he could easily go with Boeser in this […]

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