The 2013 NHL Entry Draft has come and gone. We’ll miss its odd date, rushed format, and deep prospect pool. Darcy Regier selected not one, but two defensemen in the first round, effectively exploding the head of every Sabres fan that dreamt for months of drafting an elite forward. It takes time, but we’ll get through this.
Once the Oilers picked Darnell Nurse I started screaming to my house, “The Euro babe is ours! Valeri Nichushkin fell to 8!” The thought hadn’t even crossed my mind that the Sabres wouldn’t nab him. Last year Darcy did exactly what I wanted in the first round, and I was starting to get used to the idea of his steady hand leading the rebuild.
Then my satellite feed died. The thunderstorm finally made its way to our house on the hill, blocking the radio waves that were manifesting as images of young talented kids getting their lives changed. I whined about it to my family: I work hard all morning and barely got home in time for the draft and now the signal dies before the Sabres pick? Why does everything bad always happen to me?! Oh no, I have to listen to the radio feed online instead of seeing it, curse the cruel first world problems that plague my elite forward prospectless existence.
The pick came in and screams echoed through my house once more. My mother didn’t care that her armchair GM son has strong opinions, she will not put up with that kind of language in her household! The signal dying wasn’t just an unfortunate circumstance, it was insidious foreshadowing.
All of this to say that I don’t hate what Darcy Regier did in the first round yesterday. He solidified and diversified our organizational depth at defenseman. With all of the puckmovers in the fold (Pysyk, Ruhwedel, McCabe), it made all the sense in the world to add two big nasty shutdown defensemen. Ristolainen was a judgement call at 8, and Zadorov was great value at 16.
The second round made me feel much better about our 2 new D-men. We ended up with C/LW J.T. Compher, C/LW Connor Hurley, and RW Justin Bailey. J.T. Compher is a tenacious two way forward who compares with Ryan Callahan. Yes please. Connor Hurley is a high school prospect who could develop into a high end offensive forward. Eh, cool. Justin Bailey is a local kid who could grow into a skilled power forward. Yes please. Every single one of our first five picks has a pretty dang good shot of being NHLers.
I’m not going to stop anyone from bashing Darcy for not picking Nichushkin or Horvat at 8, though. Organizational depth when it comes to 1st line forward prospects is nearly bare. Neither Grigorenko nor Armia can bust with the way our farm is stocked. I fully expect Darcy to target elite offensive prospects if/when Miller and Vanek are dealt. Outside of first line forwards, though, the Sabres’ crop of prospects is strong everywhere else.
Note: I know that the scouting staff is arguably more responsible for the draft than the GM. It’s just easier to say “Darcy” rather than “Regier, Devine, and the rest of the scouting staff…”