I decided to look back on the history of the Buffalo Sabres draft picks, something I know rather well. And I chose to look back on their first round selections and their impact on the team. The team was inducted into the NHL in 1970 as an expansion team, thats 43 years and 43 drafts. Let’s start from the beginning:
1970 – The Sabres drafted first overall in the 1970 Amateur Draft. They selected Sabres Legend Gilbert Perreault.
The consensus was that first pick in the 1970 NHL Amateur Draft would be junior phenom Gilbert Perreault. Either the Sabres or the Canucks would get the first pick, to be determined with the spin of a roulette wheel. Perreault was available to the Sabres and Canucks as this was the first year that theMontreal Canadiens did not have a priority right to draft Quebec-born junior players.
The Canucks were allocated numbers 1-10 on the wheel, while the Sabres had 11-20. When league president Clarence Campbell spun the wheel, he initially thought the pointer landed on 1. However, while Campbell was congratulating the Vancouver delegation, Imlach asked Campbell to check again. As it turned out, the pointer was on 11—effectively handing Perrault to the Sabres.
As every Buffalo fan knows, Perreault is one of the greatest of all time to lace up for the blue and gold, where in 17 seasons, all for the Sabres, he tallied 512 goals and 1326 points in 1191 games. Gil also won the Calder Memorial as the best rookie in 1970-71 as well as the Lady Byng in 72-73.
1971 – Drafting 5th overall in the first round, the Sabres take fellow French Connection member Rick Martin. Ricky played 681 games for the Sabres and racked up 382 goals and 695 points. Martin played almost his entire career here, expect for four games in LA in his final two seasons.
1972 – Drafting again in the fifth spot, the Sabres took Jim Schoenfeld. Schoenfeld played nine full seasons in Buffalo and two half seasons. He was responsible for 45 goals and 228 points in 584 games. He never really lived up to the hype and expectations of a first round pick and statistic wise could be considered a bust for how high he was drafted.
1973 – Drafted 12th overall, Morris Titanic. Titanic is a well known name. It is the name of the famous ship that sank. However, Titanic the man, is a former first round bust for the Buffalo Sabres. Drafted 12th, and only played a total of 19 games and got zero points. He was passed around the AHL and IHL for a few years and ever took the 76-77 season off, and eventually called it quits after 8 pro seasons.
1974 – Taken 11th in 1974 was Lee Fogolin who played 5 seasons with the Sabres before being sent back for a few games so he could retire in Blue and Gold. 338 of his 924 NHL games were here in Buffalo where he added 8 goals and 70 assists. He never really came into his own until he moved to Edmonton, and yet he still was not what was expected out of the 11th overall pick.
1975 – 17th pick of the 1975 Amateur Draft, Bob Sauve. Sauve contributed for nine seasons in Buffalo. He was traded to Detroit in 1981 but returned the following season as a free agent. Because the NHL only began keeping the Save Percentage stats from 1985 on, his S% for the Sabres was 0.865 and his GAA was 3.14. He also won the Vezina Trophy in 1979-1980 and the William Jennings in 1984-1985.
1976 – No First Round Pick, traded to Atlanta for Jacques Richard
1977 – Selected 14th overall was Ric Seiling. In 664 games over eight seasons for the Sabres, Seiling nabbed 176 goals and 377 points. Seiling was an excellent goal scorer for the blue and gold and a good first round draft pick.
1978 – Drafted 13th overall was current head of the Buffalo Sabres Alumni Association, and good friend of mine, Larry Playfair. Playfair was a shutdown defender for the blue and gold playing 9 seasons and 577 games. Being a shutdown defender meant low stats, 24 goals and 76 assists.
1979 - Drafted 11th overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the 1979 NHL Entry Draft was 1980 US Olympic star Mike Ramsey. Ramsey would go on to play in the National Hockey League immediately after the Olympics. He had one of the most successful NHL careers of the 1980 U.S. Olympians. Primarily known as an offensive defenseman as an amateur, he successfully adapted to the bigger and tougher NHL by becoming a “stay at home” defensive specialist for the Sabres. Ramsey played in 911 games over 14 seasons for the Sabres, scoring 73 goals and 256 points during his tenure in Buffalo. Ramsey also served as the Sabres team captain during his 14 seasons with club.
Check back later for the break down of the 1980 first round draft picks.