The Buffalo Sabres could be drafting a major piece to the future of this franchise in the 2020 NHL Draft, but who will they select with their No. 8 draft pick?
Oh boy, what an important 2020 NHL Draft this is for the Buffalo Sabres. They hold the eighth pick — the same pick they’ve had 3 of the past 7 drafts — and have shown interest in a number of players, but the one they end up picking will largely depend on who’s left to pick.
With that being said, we also have absolutely no idea what kind of player Kevyn Adams is interested in and whether or not he’s going to pull any surprise trades. He’s already done that once so far this offseason with the Eric Staal trade and I wouldn’t be shocked if he does it again.
Looking at the players available, it’s clear that we’re going to see a lot of forwards taken in the top-10 — with most media outlets going with 7 forwards in the top-10. Many believe that’s the route Buffalo will go, but not everyone.
Before I get into my personal thoughts, let’s take a quick look at some of the projections we’ve seen from around the NHL:
- Sports Illustrated has the Buffalo Sabres selecting Jamie Drysdale, D, Erie Otters (OHL)
- Yahoo! Sports has the Buffalo Sabres selecting Cole Perfetti, C, Saginaw Spirit (OHL)
- theScore has the Buffalo Sabres selecting Jake Sanderson, D, USA U-18 (USHL)
- Die By the Blade has the Buffalo Sabres selecting Anton Lundell, C, HIFK (SM Liiga)
- The Buffalo News has the Buffalo Sabres selecting Anton Lundell, C, HIFK (SM Liiga)
- HockeyBuzz has the Buffalo Sabres selecting Lucas Raymond, RW, Frolunda (SHL)
To be honest, I’m okay with a forward or a defenseman with the No. 8 pick, but it certainly comes with conditions. For example, there are only two defensemen I would feel comfortable with the Buffalo Sabres’ drafting at No. 8 and they’re both listed above — Jake Sanderson and Jamie Drysdale.
I think the Ottawa Senators are going to get one of those defensemen and I think another one could be going to either Detroit or New Jersey. Of course, this could all change if Ottawa turns in a surprise and drafts the lone goalie expected to go in the first round.
While there’s a chance either Sanderson or Drysdale are available, I think there will be better options available on offense and that’s the route I see them going — though having one of those defensemen available would make for a difficult decision.
There are a ton of forwards you can talk about at No. 8, both centers and wingers, but four of them have my full interest:
- Cole Perfetti – played 61 games in the OHL with the Saginaw Spirit last season, totaling 37 goals and 74 assists.
- Alexander Holtz – played 39 games in the SHL with Djurgårdens IF last season, totaling 9 goals and 7 assists.
- Anton Lundell – played 44 games in the Liiga with HIFK last season, totaling 10 goals and 18 assists.
- Marco Rossi – played 109 games in the OHL with the Ottawa 67’s over the past two seasons, totaling 68 goals and 117 assists.
Any of these players have a chance to be a major piece for the Buffalo Sabres in a few years, but let’s take a quick look at why I think we need to eye these players and not the rest.
I think it’s clear that Alexis Lafreniere, Tim Stützle, and Quinton Byfield have the best chance at going top-three, barring any surprises. I don’t see Buffalo trading up that high and that’s why they aren’t on my list.
If both defenseman are taken from 4-7 (which I expect), that leaves two teams left to either pick a forward or goalie before the Sabres pick. I don’t think a goalie will be taken before Buffalo, which is why I expect two more forwards (other than Lafreniere, Byfield, and Stützle) to be selected before Kevyn Adams makes his decision.
I’m not too picky as to which of those four players we select from above, largely because I feel like any of them could be off the board by the time Buffalo selects. I will say, however, we need one of them.
If not, that’s when I would be okay with the Sabres listening to trade offers and maybe even packaging a player with the No. 8 pick for a proven player — or even a later first round pick and more picks or depth pieces.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Adams looks to trade Brandon Montour, Carter Hutton, or even Rasmus Ristolainen — though I don’t think Ralph Krueger would be too happy about that. Losing Ristolainen would also increase the need for either Jake Sanderson or Jamie Srysdale and could change their entire 2020 NHL Draft.
At the end of the day, I hope Buffalo gets to select someone in the top-10, opposed to entertaining a trade. I think there’s a lot of talent and I’d be happy with any of the four players listed above — Lundell, Rossi, Perfetti, or Holtz.
What about you? Who do you want to see put on a Buffalo Sabres’ jersey during the first round of the 2020 NHL Draft?
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