Continuing on from where we left off in the 1970’s, we kick off this list in 1980
1980 – Steve Patrick, 20th pick in the first round. Patrick played a meager six seasons in the NHL, playing 152 games for Buffalo and never playing more than 46 games in a season. He tallied 21 goals and 55 points in his time here. He is a definite first round bust with his best season of 11 goals and 29 points coming as a member of the Rangers.
1981 – 17th overall, Jiri Dudacek. Dudacek never played a single season in North America. Being drafted made him the first Czechoslovak player to be selected in the first round of a National Hockey League draft. As Czechoslovakia was a Communist country at the time of Dudáček’s drafting, bringing him to North America was a difficult proposition for the Sabre organization. While other teams helped Czechoslovak players sneak out of their homeland to come to the NHL, Sabresgeneral manager Scotty Bowman attempted to convince Czechoslovak officials to legally allow Dudáček to come to Buffalo. All efforts were declined by the Czechoslovak sports authorities, though, claiming Dudáček was “too young” to leave the country.
1982 – This is the first year we see the Sabres with three first round picks, and they were spent wisely. Drafted 6th was Phil Housley, 9th was Paul Cyr, and 16th was Dave Andreychuk. Housley played a total of just under 1500 games in the NHL and 608 for Buffalo over eight seasons. Housley was an offensive powerhouse with 178 goals and 560 points here. Paul Cyr didn’t stick as long, lasting four and a half seasons with 70 goals and 99 assists. Dave Andreychuk suited up for blue and gold the most, playing in over half of his total games(1639), 837 over 12 seasons. Dave was an offensive stud, scoring 368 goals and 804 points.
1983 – This is the second time, and second season in a row that the Sabres had three first round picks. First was Tom Barrasso 5th overall, then Normand Lacombe 10th and Adam Creighton 11th. In his rookie season, Barrasso played oustanding and took home the Vezina and Calder trophy. Tom is the only goaltender to ever play in the NHL directly from high school, without having played major junior, college, or some other form of professional hockey first. The youngest winner of the league’s Vezina Trophy for best goaltender, as an 18-year old rookie in 1984. He played six seasons for Buffalo before being traded to Pittsburgh in return for Darrin Shannon. He posted a record of 124 – 102 – 28. Normand Lacombe never really stuck with the Sabres, splitting time between here and Rochester before finally moving to Edmonton. He scored 12 goals and 18 assists. Creighton contributed to six season and played in 172 games. He racked up 100 points, with 40 of which being goals.
1984 – With the 18th overall selection, Buffalo took Mikael Andersson. Andersson, like many others of the 1980’s bounced around from Rochester to Buffalo, never really sticking with the team. He played 99 games with 4 goals and 37 points. Andersson was a complete bust in Buffalo and never lived up to the hype of a first round pick, becoming a journeyman around the league, bouncing from team to team, never staying in one place for more than a few years.
1985 – Taken 14th overall, Calle Johansson. I’m starting to see a trend here in the 80’s. With a few good pickups like Barrasso and Housley and Andreychuk, the remainder of the first round picks never really pan out. The same is said for Johansson. He played only two years in Buffalo before being shipped to Washington where he finished the last 15 seasons of his career. Only 55 points and 6 goals makes this pick a disappointment for Buffalo fans.
1986 – 5th overall, Shawn Anderson. Again, another pick who never played equally as much in Rochester as in Buffalo. 113 games, 6 goals, 32 points. Anderson can be called a complete bust because he only played parts of four more seasons before never being seen in the NHL again.
1987 – For the second time in team history, 1st overall, Pierre Turgeon. Finally, the Sabres redeem themselves with an excellent pick. Although Turgeon only played four full seasons in Buffalo, he was part of the trade that brought one of the greatest players in Buffalo hockey, easily arguable, to our city. Turgeon scored 122 goals and 323 points in 322 games for the Sabres. After four plus years with the Sabres, Turgeon was traded on October 25, 1991, along with Benoit Hogue, Uwe Krupp and Dave McLlwain, to the New York Islanders for Pat LaFontaine, Randy Wood, Randy Hillier, and future considerations. LaFontaine exploded offensively in the 1992–93 season with a personal-best and team-record 148 points (53 goals and 95 assists). The 148 points are also the most points ever scored by an American-born player in one season. His play-making ability enabled his linemate, Alexander Mogilny to set a team season record with 76 goals, (both LaFontaine’s 95 assists, 148 points and Mogilny’s 76 goals still stand as the Sabres’ team records for a single season).
1988 – Drafted 13th, Joel Savage. Following the Sabres’ 1980 draft trend of picking a stud then a series of busts, Joel Savage managed to make the roster for 3 games and then was booted from the NHL forever. in those three games, he managed to record one point with an assist.
1989 – 14th overall, fellow Sabres’ failure, Kevin Haller. 81 total games in parts of three seasons with 30 points. Haller was a shut down defender and wasn’t expected to rack up the stats, but he only lasted a mere 2 season with Buffalo. He would go on to play 12 more seasons in the NHL but was no better than a #3-4 defender.
Come back later for the 1990’s. Thanks