Hey all you Sabres fans out there, does the name Marek Zagrapan ring a bell? It should sound familiar. Though he never played a game with the Sabres, Marek Zagrapan is a former first-round draft choice of the NHL club. Where’s he been, you ask? Let’s find out.
Alright – here’s the first sign that things aren’t good. The second option when you type his name into Google? “Marek Zagrapan bust.” Um, ouch.
It’s a little hard to dispute, though.
The Slovakian-born center is one of 17 players drafted in the first round by the Buffalo Sabres since 2000, including Sam Reinhart.
Excluding Reinhart, that’s 16; just five of those players haven’t suited up for the Buffalo Sabres, with Marek Zagrapan being one of them.
The others: Joel Armia (2011), who hasn’t made the jump to the NHL yet and just made his North American debut last season in the American Hockey League; Dennis Persson, who spent time in the AHL but has never played an NHL game in his life; Keith Ballard, who was part of a three-way trade for Chris Drury and played many games in the NHL, but none for Buffalo; and Artem Kryukov, who has never played a game in North America.
Zagrapan is the one that should’ve bloomed, should’ve been in the NHL, but it didn’t work out. So where is he now?
Marek Zagrapan last played for a Buffalo Sabres-related organization in 2009.
He spent that season with the AHL’s Portland Pirates, putting up 49 points in 80 regular season games. It was his fifth season playing hockey in North America, having previously spent two years with the Chicoutimi Sagueneens in the QMJHL and two years with the Rochester Americans.
He played his last game in North America on April 24, 2009 and has been playing overseas in one capacity or another since then.
In 2010, Die By The Blade called Zagrapan Buffalo’s “worst draft pick of the decade.”
In the five years since he last played for the Buffalo Sabres organization, Marek Zagrapan has played with two KHL teams, two Czech teams and one SM-liiga team.
Sadly, it’s been a bust ever since.
He started things off with Cherepovets Severstal of the KHL in 2009-10, where he had 16 points and 40 penalty minutes in 51 games.
Zagrapan split the 2010-11 season between Khanty-Mansiysk Yugra (KHL) and Trinec Ocelari HC (Czech). He had five points in 18 games for each club.
The 2011-12 season wasn’t much better, with six points in 24 games for HPK Hameenlinna in the Finnish Elite League.
Next, it was 14 points in 40 games with Trinec Ocelari HC in the first season of his second stint with the team. He added five points in 11 playoff games in 2013.
Marek Zagrapan split this last season between Trinec Ocelari HC (eight points, 25 games) and Kladno (three points, 16 games). According to a translation from a Czech article, Zagrapan had trouble getting ice time and was loaned to the Kladno Knights in January.
Although the 27-year-old is far gone from the Sabres organization, he’s still out there playing hockey overseas for now, though it seems uncertain at this point where he’ll be when next season rolls around.