The first round of the NHL Draft is meant for teams to find their next star player to keep their franchise’s playoff hopes in tact. It is not, however, the only round with top talent. A number of star players (most notably Pavel Datsyuk who was drafted in the 6th round of the 1998 draft) have been selected in the second round and beyond. The Buffalo Sabres have 3 picks in the second round at the 31th, 39th, and 49th selections. Here are a few possibilities of young players that the Sabres could pick in those slots.
He’s projected to go at the #30 slot, but there is a chance he slides down to 31 for the Sabres to grab. Jack Dougherty is a defenseman for the USA- U18 team and brings a solid defensive game. He’s a stay-at-home defenseman that has a great eye for the play and keeps himself between the puck and the net very well. He would be a valuable addition to the Sabres’ defensive core and would be a great future asset to helping this team win.
Every team needs size. The Buffalo Sabres still lack that size, but would also like some skill and scoring touch to go along with it. Hunter Smith would be just the right guy for this slot. He stands at a hulking 6 foot 7 and 218 pounds. His great size is shown well on the ice with every hit, and he rarely shies away from them. He also has a slight offensive upside to him as he scored 16 goals and 40 points in 64 games. He’s projected to go right at the 39th slot on the draft and would certainly be a valuable pickup for the Sabres.
Brett Pollock is a Center for the Edmonton Oil Kings. He saw his year be a productive one with 25 goals and 55 points in 71 games, and he did so with finesse. Pollock stands at 6 foot 2, 182 pounds, and is a playmaking center man with a solid scoring touch. His skill and slickness is what makes him succeed and his desire to battle for pucks anywhere on the ice makes him a force to be reckoned with. Projected to go at the 34th slot, the Sabres could grab him at #31 if they feel he’s the right man for them.
Now here’s a bit of a sleeper pick. He’s ranked at #145 on central scouting’s list for North American skaters, but his upside is quite worth a hard look by the Sabres. Even if they chose to wait until the third or fourth round to pick him up, Edgars Kulda is an offensive threat that could be utilized. Scoring 30 goals and 60 points in 66 games is certainly no lack of skill. He’s got great hands and is smooth with the puck. His defensive game could use some work, but his offensive push is fantastic. The Latvian Winger stands at 5 foot 11 and 179 pounds and has the speed to boot. The Buffalo Sabres already have one player from Latvia out of the NHL Draft, why not have a second one?
There are many options for the Sabres to pick up this year beyond the first round. What do you all think of these four players?