Buffalo Sabres Daily: Alumni, Injuries, OHL Playoffs

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Good morning, Buffalo Sabres fans. It’s a game day here in Buffalo, with arguably “the most important game of the season” being played tonight at First Niagara Center as the Sabres host the Arizona Coyotes. It’s the first of two meetings between the teams in the coming week, and with the draft lottery coming in less than a month, we’ll soon find out exactly where the Sabres will be picking in the draft come June.

Speaking of the draft, the NHL draft lottery is expected to be held on April 18, a day I’m sure most Sabres fans are adding to their calendars as we speaking. [Sportsnet]

We’re still waiting on the final rankings for draft-eligible players heading into June, but we should find out soon, as NHL Central Scouting will meet on Friday to determine the final rankings.

It seems almost certain that Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel will remain the top-two ranked players, but there’s some room for movement in other slots. We’ll wait to see where CSS ranks guys like Noah Hanifin, Lawson Crouse and Dylan Strome, and then — more importantly — we’ll wait to see just where they end up getting drafted in June.

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Anyways, coming back to the world of the Buffalo Sabres right now: a few injury updates from around the Sabres organization.

First, an update on defenseman Mark Pysyk, who collapsed during a pick-up basketball game several weeks ago.

Pysyk returned to full practice last week with the AHL’s Rochester Americans, but didn’t feel well and ended up visiting doctors in Buffalo. [USA Today] It’s unclear at this point whether he’ll be able to return to practice again, or when he’ll return to game action.

My opinion: play it safe — very safe. It’s still unknown what caused Pysyk to collapse, and while we don’t know if his not feeling well last week is at all connected, this isn’t something to play around with. We’re almost at the end of the season, and Pysyk’s return isn’t going to determine whether the Amerks make the playoffs or not, so play it safe and slow.

In other injury news, Buffalo Sabres head coach Ted Nolan said this morning that he’s not banking on Zemgus Girgensons returning to the lineup this season.

While nothing is certain and #28 hasn’t been officially ruled out for the year, it’s almost a “Why bother?” at this point. Including tonight, the Sabres only have nine games left on the season. If Girgensons is on that edge of really not being ready to play, just hold off, let him heal properly and then come back in October with a vengeance.

In other news, the Sabres alumni will hit the ice at HARBORcenter next Thursday against the Esquires, a team of attorneys from the Bar Association of Erie County, in a game to benefit the Erie County Bar Foundation. [Orchard Park Bee]

Finally, something cool happening in the hockey world tonight: Casey Bailey will likely make his NHL debut tonight with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Anchorage native will become just the 15th Alaskan to play in the NHL, the fifth to debut with playing in a minor-league pro game, and the fifth currently playing in the NHL, along with Scott Gomez, Matt Carle, Brandon Dubinsky and Nate Thompson. [Alaska Dispatch News]

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