I’ve decided to kick off my first article here with a breakdown of the rumors and options the Buffalo Sabres have in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. The Sabre’s season was riddled with injury and disappointment. With a record of 16-15-3 before the All-Star Break, a twelve game road losing streak and upwards of nine different rookies playing at one time during the first half of the season, we saw our beloved team sitting last in the Eastern Conference. It was at this time that most fans began to give up hope and start cheering for the first pick in the draft. However, that would not happen with a huge run through February and March with a record of 23-17-8 which saw them reach 8th in the playoff race, only to be beat out in the final week of the season.
Going into last Saturday’s Draft Lottery, the Sabres had a 1.1% chance of moving up to the 8th pick at best. Luck was not on our side and the Sabres now have the #12 pick in 2012, including a pick later in the first round acquired in the trade of Paul Gaustad to Nashville. There are many options available to Darcy and the scouting department and here are a few of them:
The first option is for the Sabres to stay where they are and draft two prospects this coming summer. NHL.com‘s Draft Central has recently posted three new mock drafts. One of these mock drafts says the Sabres will take defenseman Olli Maatta from London of the OHL with the 12th pick and Cech center Tomas Hertl from Slavia. Maatta is a solid, two-way defenseman who does not possess any significant deficiencies. His excellent feet and agility allow him to stay with even the speediest of forwards, resulting in quality one-on-one defensive coverage and giving Maatta shutdown capabilities. Hertl shows good offensive awareness and knows how to use his frame to protect the puck well. While he may not have gamebreaking speed, Hertl is solid on the forecheck and isn’t afraid to go into the dirty areas to get the puck. He can be related to Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn. The other mocks have the Sabres taking center Brendan Gaunce from Belleville of the OHL and either Hertl or winger Martin Frk from the QMJHL’s Halifax with their second pick in the first round. Brendan Gaunce has great vision, skating ability, hockey sense, a pro calibre shot, and unbelievable leadership qualities on and off the ice.(All of these prospect profiles were taken from mynhldraft.com).
There is one other big draft option available for the Sabres. The Edmonton Oilers, for the third year in a row, have won the draft lottery and claimed the number 1 pick in the draft. The #1 prospect in the draft, Nail Yakupov is a forward, and the Oilers don’t need a forward. They are offensively heavy, and particularly young. Instead the Oilers need to greatly invest in defense, and there is no shortage of top defensive prospects in this years entry draft. The top defensive prospect is Ryan Murray and eight of the top twelve prospects play on the blue line. Because of this, it is possible that the Oilers may look to trading out of that top pick. The Sabres may be at the top of their trade list with two first round picks. The Sabres could potentially offer up both first rounders and a player or 2, in my personal opinion I hope its Roy, and receive that top spot and take Yakupov. In the eyes of the fans, this possibility is slim, but with Regier’s 2011 offseason and 2012 trade deadline, the possibility is higher than it has ever been.
Now, we don’t know what Darcy and Lindy will do come June but all we can do is speculate, hope and dream. I will continue to focus on the offseason in the coming weeks by next profiling the top UFA’s this offseason and discussing the Sabres potential offseason moves.
Please let me know how I did in my first article by tweeting me(@jakebreunig1), emailing me at [email protected] or on Facebook(Jacob Breunig).