For the Buffalo Sabres, last season was far less than what ownership expected out of a team that owner, President and management have on a three year plan to win a Stanley Cup. It was only approximately 18 months ago that Terry Pegula referred to this team in his ownership press conference that he referred to as wanting to build into a multi-cup winning team.
In an era where there has not been a back to back Stanley Cup winner in almost two decades, wanting to win multiple cups is a lofty goal, especially when the team he owns has never won even one.
The Buffalo Sabres took a step last night in rounding out a roster that struggled at many points last season.
With four selections in the top 44 spots, it was almost two good to be true for Darcy Regier, as he had more than enough ammunition to go to war with – he didn’t have to walk to the stage twice last night, nor will he have to first thing this morning. Sabres fans were hoping, and he [Darcy] probably was too, that they could make a move to bring in NHL ready talent via a trade. As H-Hour of the draft drew near, trade talks stalled throughout the league, a hush fell as the calm before the storm, and 7 PM kicked off with little trade action. The Buffalo Sabres were told by the 29 other teams to – make your picks.
The only dance partner the Buffalo Sabres could find on day one of the draft were the Calgary Flames, and the only movement there was picks for picks, the Sabres were able to move up in the draft to grab their second guy, and the Flames were able to stay in the first round at a later pick and get back into the second round. Here is a recap of the Sabres two picks:
12th overall - Mihail Grigorenko, Russia, Quebec Ramparts. There were too many questions surrounding Grigorenko for my liking at this pick, especially with Radek Faksa still on the board. Once thought to be a number one overall draft selection for the class of 2012, his stock slipped, and questions about his age and if he actually wanted to play in the National Hockey League arose. For a team that didn’t like drafting Russians – the Buffalo Sabres went out on a limb here to increase the size and depth of their center position. In his post selection interviews, Grigorenko may have put to rest some of the fears of him jumping back across the pond to play in his home countries KHL. He is happy with the team that selected him. Sabres legend and team hall of fame member Alexander Mogilney is from the same home town team as the Sabres first round draft selection – and Grigorenko mentioned another Sabres great, Dominik Hasek. He even had a comment on the sweater that he will be wearing in the near future
All the time, I think the Buffalo Sabres jersey is, like, one of the most beautiful jerseys in the League. (sic)
The press didn’t have time to cool off as most writers were putting the finishing touches on their report about the Sabres draft pick when the action needed to pick up again, as the Sabres wasted little time in moving from selecting 12th to getting back on stage. Fearing that they would miss out on drafting another good center prospect if they remained at 21st overall in the draft, the selection they got from the Paul Gaustad to Nashville Predators trade, the Sabres found a partner in the Calgary Flames. The Flames, looking to stock a depleted talent pool were trying to get back in the second round of the draft, having passed their second round pick to none other than the Buffalo Sabres. They were able to make a deal, and the Flames gave the Sabres there second chance at the podium in just about 20 minutes.
The team of suits trekked to the stage again, this time to select Zemgus Girgensons with the 14th overall pick. Zemgus is actually a more protypical player that the Sabres are looking for at the center position, but was again, not the best player on the board that the Sabres could have selected to make their team better. He has a willingness to play in traffic, and has a way with controlling the puck. He has the potential with development to be a top six forward – but his style of play might make him a better winger than a center.
Either way the Buffalo Sabres added size and depth at the center position on day one of the draft – something they had to do. Neither one of their first round draft picks is NHL ready so we still could see some action on day two as the Sabres trade parts, peices, prospects or picks to bring in NHL talent – or they could be looking for July 1st to provide more immediate relief at this point.
Round two kicks off the activities here on day two in just under three hours. The Sabres hold the 44th pick, they continue tto select in the draft with picks in the third round (73rd), the fifth round (133rd), the sixth round (163rd), and the seventh round (193rd and 204th). The Buffalo Sabres do not have a selection in the fourth round this year, having traded that away to the New York Islanders
in the deal that brought Christian Erhoff to Buffalo. The Sabres can select twice in the seventh round thanks to the Florida Panthers, Chicago Blackhawks, Vancouver Canucks, Steve Montador, Tomas Kopecky, and Alex Sulzer.