Written By Kris Baker on Sunday, June 29, 2008 | 6/29/2008
Written By Kris Baker on Saturday, June 28, 2008 | 6/28/2008
Written By Kris Baker on Friday, June 27, 2008 | 6/27/2008
Written By Kris Baker on Thursday, June 26, 2008 | 6/26/2008
“The Rockets have a long a history of doing their own work in drafting defenceman, developing them and getting them ready for the NHL,” said Regier, the Sabres GM. “We want to use their resources and it’s something we’ll take a lot of confidence in for the next year or two. In junior he’ll continue his development and then, we hope, become a very good pro with us. “He has a tremendous upside and we think there’s lots there to build on.” Myers became a key component in Buffalo’s future when the Sabres made him their first choice, 12th overall at Friday’s NHL draft in Ottawa. The lanky blue liner brings some obvious assets to the Sabres—size and reach among them—as well as being a particularly strong skater for a player of his dimensions. But at just 205 pounds, Myers will need to add considerable bulk and muscle before being ready for the next level. Myers knows his progression as a player and future with Buffalo will hinge on his own hard work and commitment. “I’ve still have lots of work to do and I know it’s a very hard league to crack,” said Myers. “I need to put on some weight. With my 6-7 frame it’s hard to do that, but you know this is a going to be big summer for me. I’m excited and happy to be part of the Sabres organization.”While playing for the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL, the towering ex-Texan could easily be playing for the Houston Rockets instead.
Although 6-7 Buffalo Sabres draft pick Tyler Myers started his hockey career in a Texas youth league, he wonders if he might be playing in a different arena if he hadn't moved to Canada. "If I hadn't made the move, I would be holding a basketball right now down in Texas," Myers said, laughing. Myers started playing hockey after watching the Houston Aeros, and he became more immersed after his father moved the family to Alberta several years ago to continue his work in the oil business. Although the defenseman could play for Canada or the USA in international play, he recently said he'd play for Canada.
“I talked to a lot of scouts and a lot of people, and some guys told me he could possibly go as early as the second round,” Jokinen’s high school coach, Dave Esse, said. “I was a little disappointed that he went in the fourth round. ... But it’s all in the eye of the beholder. There’s someone out there for everybody. It’s like a dating service; you never know what they’ll like.” The only MSU-affiliated player selected this year, Jokinen ended up being the sixth Minnesota-born player selected and one of 22 future and current Western Collegiate Hockey Association players. “He’s a great kid,” Esse said. “It’s a perfect fit for him to go down to Mankato.” Over the last two seasons for the Cloquet-Esko-Carlton high school team, Jokinen scored 93 points. Last year, he was named team captain and Mr. Hockey finalist and led the Lumberjacks to a state-tournament berth. “I love to have the puck on my stick,” he said. “I like being a playmaker and scoring goals.”
Enroth feels he’s ready, which is why he signed a three-year, $1.9 million deal with the Sabres last month. There was nothing else to learn in Europe, where he led the Swedish league with a 2.13 goals-against average. “It felt like I played well in two good seasons at home,” Enroth said. “I feel like I had to make the next step.” Enroth, a confident netminder, saw his stock rise at the world junior championships in January when he backstopped Sweden to a silver medal. It led him to say that he could be with the Sabres next season. After a conversation with Corsi, he’s tempered his expectations. “Of course I want to play in the NHL, but it’s going to take time, maybe two years, three years in the minors,” Enroth said. “But I will be patient and wait for my time and try to get it.” The only disparaging things scouts say about Enroth is he may not have the size to be an elite NHL goalie. He’s 5-foot-10, 174 pounds in an era of crease patrollers who are routinely 6-2. But it takes more than just bulk to block a puck. It takes movement to get in front of it. “I know if I was 6-foot or something like that I would have probably gone in the first round,” Enroth said. “[A big guy] can use his body and just go down and block the shots. I have to react and think a little bit more, try to get a step before the shooter.”
Written By Kris Baker on Wednesday, June 25, 2008 | 6/25/2008
Forty-five players will gather at the University of Ottawa for the five-day camp, the first chance for head coach Benoit Groulx and his staff to get a look at Canada’s hopefuls. The 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship runs from December 26th to January 5th in OttawaMichigan State's Corey Tropp has already received an invitation for Team USA's Evaluation Camp.
Written By Kris Baker on Saturday, June 21, 2008 | 6/21/2008
SCOUTING REPORT NHL Central Scouting's Chris Bordeleau "He played on Canada's Under-18 team and deservedly so. Jacob is a good skater and another player who came out of nowhere this season after I saw him quite a bit as an underage player last season. He has good hands – he's not a big player, but he could surprise people if he continues to work hard and improve his game."
NHL Central Scouting's Jack Barzee "Justin moved to center this year and he ended up carrying his team to the State tournament. He is tall and skinny right now, but he's a lot like Jamie Langenbrunner was at that age, with a little bit different intensity than Langenbrunner had. When Justin kicks that intensity up he has that snap and finesse that allows him to make big plays. He can come down on the defenseman, use him as a screen and snap the puck off to surprise the goalie. He's one of those guys that has the uncanny ability to put the puck in the net – I think he can be a goal scorer at any level – he just needs to get stronger." Cloquet-Carlton head coach David Esse "Justin is one of the best athletes I have ever coached over the past 18 years. He makes everyone around him better and has such a passion and love of the game."
The wildcard in this spot just might be the athletic Fienhage (pronounced fin-a-gee). At 6'2, 190-lbs, the fleet-footed blueliner will be heading to North Dakota in 2009. An aggressive defender, scouts took notice with his ability to play "big" in a brief USHL stint after his Minnesota HS season ended. A safety on his high school football team, the scrappy right-hander may need another year before entering the NCAA, but his package is something that the Sabres could use more of. Keep your eyes peeled for his name as Draft Combine reports come out.From the NHL Draft site:
NHL Central Scouting's Jack Barzee "Corey is an aggressive and tough player. He's a great skater with a good wrist shot and big shot from the point. He is really aware of his defensive responsibilities, always looking over his shoulder. He's going to be a warrior. He has a little bit of Coyotes' defenseman Ed Jovanovski in him and there won't be too many people who will want to play against him when he gets going." Eastview hockey head coach, Drey Bradley "Corey loves the physical game. He is a very strong skater, has great feet, balance and agility. He was the top defenseman in the Lake conference – the strongest in the defensive zone, especially the corners, and he makes good decisions with the puck."
The barreling Adam is one of our favorite players in the draft. He goes hard at both ends, and was the leading scorer for St. John's this past season. With an Owen Nolan/Rick Nash type game, he's a responsible, soft-handed scorer who likes use his 6'2, 200-pound body to bang and create. His skating has prevented him from entering the elite tier of forwards.Don't make too much of the skating knock. It's only mentioned as a reason why he's not a first round player. When you see him in action, you quickly realize that it doesn't impede him being an effective player. Competitive but not overly aggressive, some simple attention to his feet will help him carry the pace of the NHL game. We said the same thing about Mike Weber when he was a second rounder. We have enjoyed scouting Adam this past season while tracking the progress of his Fog Devil mates, and fellow Sabres prospects, T.J. Brennan and J.S. Allard. A certain NHL forward, we feel that this pick really brings the draft together early. After selecting Myers and Ennis, he was the player we wanted in the spot we wanted, and Sabres fans shouldn't be happier. From the NHL Draft Site: NHL Central Scouting's Chris Bordeleau
"Luke has really improved over the season. He is a big player and sometimes big guys take longer to grow into their skating. The upside on Luke is pretty high, he plays big, and he can score."
Written By Kris Baker on Friday, June 20, 2008 | 6/20/2008
NHL Director of Central Scouting, E.J. McGuire Strengths: "Tyler is a quick, 'water-bug'-type player. He scoots up and down the ice and can turn on a dime. He can drive wide on a defenseman who is unaware or a little slow. Tyler may be one of the best pure offensive players in the entire draft." Outlook: "Getting bigger is not something within his control, he's done everything as far as his quickness and offensive development and now I think that it is just ready for him to show it at the next level." Medicine Hat GM and head coach Willie Desjardins "He's so, so fast. I think he's one of the toughest guys in the league to handle. He wants to score so bad on every shift and Tyler's quickness down low in the corner is why he's so hard to handle."
NHL Director of Central Scouting, E.J. McGuire Strengths: "His height differentiates him from the rest of the draft-eligible defensemen – he towers above all the other players. He is not often burned by the small, quick players and because of the emphasis in today's NHL on a lack of restraining type of play, I think Tyler has adjusted well to that and is more ready to play in the new NHL than a lot of the other smaller players." Areas to improve: "Improvements can be made with his continued maturity. I don't know that he needs to work on anything other than continuing to work on foot speed, continuing to work on coordination. He's got a rocket shot from the point on the power-play and that is never going to leave him." Outlook: "Tyler is the tallest player among the top-rated players. As a defenseman, that height translates into a great poke-check and great stick work. At 6'7", he still has a little bit of growing into his body to do. Obviously comparisons are made to Zdeno Chara, who, it has been said, actually as a junior stumbled when he played for St. George. There may be a night when the large feet of Myers get in his way a little bit, but to hear scouts talk, they won't get in his way for very many more years." Kelowna Rockets head coach Ryan Huska "The one thing with Tyler is that his size is something that you can't teach. He's very big and for a guy his size, he skates very well. He's very fluid on the ice. For a younger guy, he's got a lot of composure with the puck. I think that's one of the reasons why a lot of NHL scouts are fairly high on him right now ... he's starting to understand that he can use his size to his advantage in our own zone. He's becoming a really good player defensively. His stick is so good and he makes it very difficult for opponents to get around him in the defensive zone."
The determined Atkinson, 19, plays with speed and hustle on every shift. At 5'8, 165-pounds, his small yet wide frame goes hard into the corners, and with a scorer's touch, just might conjure up images of another diminutive icer from Chestnut Hill - Nathan Gerbe.
A New York Rangers fan, Atkinson said the Washington Capitals have been the most aggressive team that has scouted him. The Florida Panthers, New York Islanders, Buffalo Sabres, Pittsburgh Penguins, Columbus Blue Jackets and Colorado Avalanche have also expressed interest in Atkinson, who was the prep school league's second-leading scorer last season. If Atkinson is drafted, the team that selects him will evaluate him and decide where he fits in within the organization.
Written By Kris Baker on Thursday, June 19, 2008 | 6/19/2008
13. Buffalo Sabres Josh Bailey, C, Windsor (OHL)The Sabres have drafted other positions the past two years and lost Daniel Briere and Chris Drury via free agency before the 2007-08 season. An upgrade down the middle is desperately needed. Zach Boychuk is a possibility here. Bailey has pro size, though, and could be more physical.26. Buffalo Sabres (from San Jose) Luca Sbisa, D, Lethbridge (WHL) Swiss pro-sized defenseman played better as the season went on. Kyle Woodlief (Redline Report) 13 (Buffalo) - Josh Bailey. With Daniel Briere and Chris Drury long gone and Tim Connolly always injured, they've got to get their hands on a traditional playmaking center to distribute the puck to their talented young snipers on the wing. 26 (Buffalo) - Michael Del Zotto. He can be groomed as an offensive blue liner to replace Brian Campbell and run the PP. Jim Kelley (Sportsnet) No. 13 Buffalo Sabres: D, Luca Sbisa, Lethbridge The Sabres have a desperate need for a centre and perhaps an eventual replacement for goalie Ryan Miller whom they may have trouble signing, but the biggest problem is on the back end and barring a trade to move up (the Sabres have this pick and the 26th for having sent Brian Campbell to San Jose at the deadline) they'll go here. Sbisa is a Swiss native, but he played his junior hockey in Lethbridge. Nothing flashy, but solid in all areas and a possible replacement for Dimitri Kalinin whom the Sabres let go in part because of a contract dispute and in part because head coach Lindy Ruff tired of the Russian's inconsistent play. No. 26 Buffalo Sabres (from S.J.): D, Tyler Cuma, Ottawa A converted forward just like his coach, Lindy Ruff. A character guy like his coach and a no problem guy just like his coach wants. Not the best prospect, but hey, that's what you get when you scout off tips and TV. Mark Seidel (The Hockey News) 13. Buffalo Sabres – Colin Wilson, C; Boston University (NCAA) The run on defensemen in the top 10 means Wilson, a probable future captain, could fall to the Sabres. The son of former NHLer Carey Wilson, Colin’s play at the World Junior Championship showed he is able to dominate offensively, while still playing as a lock-down defender. 26. Buffalo Sabres –Jake Gardiner, D; Minnetonka (MN-HS) A personal favorite, it’d be shocking if Gardiner is still on the board at No. 26. But if he is, the Sabres will be pleased to get him. He is one of the best pure skaters in the draft and can use that ability to move the puck out of trouble much like a certain defender Sabres fans fell in love with before he headed to San Jose at the deadline. Allan Muir (Sports Illustrated)
13) Buffalo Sabres - Mattias Tedenby, left wing, HV71 Juniors (Sweden)
Central Scouting says: "Mattias is excellent on every shift. He has outstanding speed, stick work and work ethic. He is small but fearless -- he takes hits and always comes back. He creates scoring chances with his outstanding skating."
Our take: The Sabres would probably like to add some size at this position, but tiny Tedenby (5-9, 161) is impossible to pass over. Earning comparisons to Saku Koivu thanks to his speed and competitive drive, he has the potential to mature into an impact scorer in the NHL.
26) Buffalo Sabres - Jake Gardiner, defense, Minnetonka (USHS)
Central Scouting says: "He might be one of the best skaters in the draft. [A converted forward], he is smart with the puck, unselfish and careful. He is dynamic when he grabs the puck and goes. He has a very quick dangerous wrist shot -- he gets it away like Joe Sakic does."
Our take: After taking the BPA with their first pick, the Sabres can address an organizational need with Gardiner: size. Though he's got a lot of filling out to do at just 170 pounds, his build suggests he'll pack another 30-40 on his 6-2 frame in time. His hockey sense has been questioned by some, but it may simply be a matter of experience and coaching before it catches up with the rest of his tools. Gardiner will attend the University of Wisconsin next season.
Written By Kris Baker on Tuesday, June 17, 2008 | 6/17/2008
13. Buffalo selects Jordan Eberle, C (Regina) The Sabres had much of their success using small, skilled players and Eberle is indeed one of those. He’s also courageous and durable enough to make his size a non-issue. 26. Buffalo selects John Carlson, D (Indiana) The recently inked London Knight is already NHL-sized, plus he boasts power play quarterback skills. The Sabres won’t be the only team gunning for him on draft day.In our draft preview, the two are flip-flopped with Carlson in the first bucket at #13, and Eberle in the second bucket at #26. Eberle's puck carrying ability and overall skill level are considered top-notch, making him worthy of having his name called at #13 or #26. The 5'10 scorer is very confident in his offensive game, with 100 points next season as a Regina Pat certainly within reach. Honing his skills for one more season in the WHL will make for a battle tested pivot. Carlson is an offensive blueliner who controls things in his own end. Covering the ice well, his frame and shot have left some scouts referring to him as a "certain pro". We actually like his decision to enter the OHL to condition himself mentally with a full schedule. If available at #26, he should be considered the best player on the board.
Written By Kris Baker on Monday, June 16, 2008 | 6/16/2008
On ice sessions will run from 3-5PM daily. Below is the preliminary camp roster. Keep in mind that at least the North American-based players that are drafted this weekend should be hitting the ice with the current crop. There are no free agent invitees this time around, unless you're counting QMJHL forward, Benjamin Breault (207th overall, 2006). It appears he is still scheduled to participate despite his re-entry into the draft this weekend after not signing a contract with Buffalo before June 1st. It's also worth noting that Drew Stafford is slated to participate even though he's a full time NHLer at this juncture. BUFFALO SABRES 2008-09 DEVELOPMENT CAMP ROSTER FORWARD Allard, Jean-Simon C 6-2 195 R St. Bruno, Quebec 5-24-89 St. John’s (QMJHL) Breault, Benjamin C 5-10 183 L Pembroke, Ontario 2-21-88 Baie-Comeau (QMJHL) Byron, Paul C 5-9 144 L Ottawa, Ontario 4-27-89 Gatineau (QMJHL) Gerbe, Nathan C 5-5 160 L Oxford, MI 7-24-87 Boston College (NCAA) Gogulla, Philipp LW 6-2 176 L Dusseldorf, Germany 7-31-87 Cologne (DEL) Hunter, Dylan LW 6-0 198 L Quebec City, Quebec 5-21-85 Rochester (AHL) Kaleta, Patrick RW 5-11 195 R Buffalo, New York 6-8-86 Buffalo Sabres Kennedy, Tim LW 5-10 176 L Buffalo, NY 4-30-86 Michigan St. (NCAA) Orpik, Andrew RW 6-3 200 R Amherst, NY 3-12-86 Boston College (NCAA) Schutz, Felix C 5-11 187 L Erding, Germany 11-3-87 Ingolstadt ERC (DEL) Stafford, Drew RW 6-1 202 R Milwaukee, Wisconson 10-30-85 Buffalo Sabres Tropp, Corey RW 6-0 185 R Grosse Pointe, MI 7-25-89 Michigan St. (NCAA) Whitmore, Derek LW 5-11 185 L Rochester, NY 12-17-84 Rochester (AHL) Zagrapan, Marek C 6-1 198 L Presov, Czechoslovakia 12-6-86 Rochester (AHL) DEFENSE Brennan, TJ D 6-0 204 L Willingboro, NJ 4-3-89 St. John’s (QMJHL) Biega, Alex D 5-10 191 L Montreal, Quebec 2-21-88 Harvard (NCAA) Butler, Chris D 6-1 178 L St. Louis, MO 5-23-86 U of Denver (NCAA) Funk, Michael D 6-4 199 L Abbotsford, B.C. 8-15-86 Rochester (AHL) Generous, Matt D 6-3 185 R Methuen, MA 5-5-85 St. Lawrence (NCAA) Gragnani, Marc-Andre D 6-2 192 L Montreal, Quebec 3-11-87 Rochester (AHL) Kostka, Mike D 6-2 210 R Ajax, ON 11-28-85 Rochester (AHL) MacKenzie, Drew D 6-2 200 L Stamford, CT 12-17-88 Waterloo (USHL) Persson, Dennis D 6-1 181 L Nykoping, Sweden 6-2-88 Nykoping (Sweden 1) Schiestel, Drew D 6-1 180 R Hamilton, Ontario 3-9-89 Niagara (OHL) Sekera, Andrej D 6-0 200 L Bojnice, Czechoslovakia 6-8-86 Buffalo Sabres Weber, Mike D 6-2 199 L Pittsburgh, PA 12-16-87 Rochester (AHL) GOALTENDER Dennis, Adam G 5-11 183 L Toronto, Ontario 2-8-85 Rochester (AHL) Eidsness, Brad G 5-11 190 L Chestermere, Alberta 6-2-89 Okotoks (AJHL) Eno, Nick G 6-3 190 L Howell, Michigan 2-12-89 Bowling Green (NCAA) Enroth, Jhonas G 5-10 174 L Stockholm, Sweden 6-25-88 Sodertalje (Sweden)
The seven-day camp will feature a roster of 30 Sabres prospects, including recently signed college draft picks Nathan Gerbe, Tim Kennedy and Chris Butler. Also in attendance will be Drew Stafford, along with goaltender Jhonas Enroth and defensman Dennis Persson. This will be the first appearance in North America for both players since signing with the Sabres in early June. The players will take part in both on-ice and off-ice workouts. The goals of the camp are to give the prospective players the fundamental ideas of the Sabres playing system and the conditioning programs of an NHL player. The camp participants will also study and examine NHL rules and the successful techniques a player must possess to become a professional athlete.
Written By Kris Baker on Sunday, June 15, 2008 | 6/15/2008
Written By Kris Baker on Wednesday, June 11, 2008 | 6/11/2008
Written By Kris Baker on Saturday, June 7, 2008 | 6/07/2008
Jhonas Enroth, 19, goalkeeper From Sodertalje to Buffalo Sabres (former club: Huddinge IK) What will be your first goal when you come to camp and the NHL? -- In the first instance to play as good as possible and to make a good impression on the people in the organization. If you do not take place directly in the NHL, then select games in the AHL or Elitserien? -- I will play in the AHL in that case since I have no elitserien contract. What do you know about the Sabres? -- The first goalie Ryan Miller is known quite well, but it is not clear who will be backup, although I think the team will sign someone like David Aebischer or another. I have been in Buffalo in the past and the city and the team seems equally good organization. But in general, I know no one on the team except Dennis Persson. But I read on your website yesterday that he will be lent to a Swedish club the first year. Although some feel safe again some of the other guys from past camps. When do you go over? -- On June 24, I go over to a summer camp for a week, but then no date is clear. Even though it is well at the end of August, I can imagine. What are your summer plans until then? -- I train myself in the morning and with the Huddinge IK in the afternoon, so my summer will most probably consist of training.While we're not sure if David Aebischer is going to be the Sabres backup in 2008-09, we at least have a good idea of when the Summer Prospects Camp is going to be.
Written By Kris Baker on Friday, June 6, 2008 | 6/06/2008
The Marshall deal was among a number of trades swung by head coach and general manager Patrick Roy. He also acquired overage goaltender Charles Lavigne from the Moncton Wildcats in exchange for a fourth-round pick in 2009. The Remparts also acquired centre Benjamin Breault from the Baie-Comeau Drakkar and a third-round pick in 2009 for Felix Petit and a second-round pick (No. 33) in Saturday's draft.And with this, it looks like the Breault file will be officially closed here at SabresProspects.
Written By Kris Baker on Tuesday, June 3, 2008 | 6/03/2008
Persson (6/2/1988, 6’1”, 181 lbs.) split last season between Djurgarden of the Swedish Elite League, and Nykoping of the Swedish second tier league. Persson recorded one assist and 6 PIMs in 21 games with Djurgarden, and added four points (1+3) and 14 PIMs with Nykoping. For his career Persson has one point in 30 Elite League games with Djurgarden, along with 14 points (5+9) in 72 second tier league games with Nykoping, Vasteras and Almtuna. Persson represented Sweden at the 2006 World Junior Championships, and was considered the team’s most consistent defenseman with six points (1+5) in five games.
Written By Kris Baker on Sunday, June 1, 2008 | 6/01/2008
The 2008 NHL draft class is projected to offer teams flexibility in formulating their draft strategies, as it's ripe with two rounds worth of quality talent at the skating positions, while being especially top-heavy with upper-tier defensemen. With four of the first 74 picks, Buffalo GM Darcy Regier and his scouting department are nicely set-up to address some organizational needs early.
As of now, the Sabres will enter Ottawa on June 20th with a total of seven picks in hand. There has been chatter of a possible eighth being added at position #45 in Round #2 as compensation for not signing 2000 first-rounder Artem Kriukov, but that appears to be a non-issue until an IIHF transfer agreement is ironed out. At this point, it's possible that Kriukov is retired from hockey before this is settled...
For future reference, here are the guidelines regarding compensatory picks from the NHL CBA:
Article 8: Entry Draft
Article 8.3. Compensatory
Draft Selections. "(a) In addition to the seven (7) rounds of the Entry Draft,
there shall be an additional number of Compensatory Draft Selections not to
exceed the number of Clubs to be in the League in the following year."
"(b) In the event a Club loses its draft rights to an Unsigned Draft
Choice drafted in the first round of the Entry Draft (except as a result of
failing to tender a required Bona Fide Offer (as defined below)), who is again
eligible for the Entry Draft or becomes an Unrestricted Free Agent, a
Compensatory Draft Selection shall automatically be granted to that Club, which
Compensatory Draft Selection shall be the same numerical choice in the second
round in the Entry Draft immediately following the date the Club loses such
rights. By way of example, if a Club cannot sign the third pick in the first
round, it will receive the third pick in the second round as compensation."
2008 Buffalo Sabres Draft Picks:
1 - #13
1 - #26 (from San Jose)
2 - #44
3 - #74
4 - #104
5 - #134
6 - #164
Sizing Things Up
Using the most recent Top 20 rankings as a measuring stick, four of the Sabres Top 10 prospects reside on the blueline (Butler, Weber, Brennan, Schiestel). The Sabres Top 10 is currently void of RW's, with only one landing in the Top 20 (Tropp).
Not counting the graduated Andrej Sekera or probable "tweener" Marc-Andre Gragnani, the Sabres currently own the rights to twelve defensive prospects. Despite being short on imposing bruisers, there is an otherwise healthy mix brewing in terms of blueline skill sets.
Chris Butler, Drew Schiestel, Mike Kostka, and Matt Generous are all fluid skaters apt for smart plays with the puck. T.J. Brennan and Alex Biega are big-shooting puck luggers who will step up and use their low centers of gravity to break up plays. Not particularly heavyweights, all can be considered under-rated in terms of character.
Mike Weber and Drew MacKenzie are physical types built for simple, stay-at-home roles. Mike Funk has taken strides to use his 6'4 frame more over his two AHL seasons, while Mike Card was improving his overall play before injuries cut short his 2007-08 campaign. Developing Europeans Dennis Persson and Vjacheslav Buravchikov round out the organzation depth, but are hardly intimidating down low.
Teams are always looking to add speed and mobility from the back end, and the Sabres have plenty. With this in mind, it should be noted how Buffalo fans quickly embraced Mike Weber late in the year for his dedication inside the dots, and his ability to deliver a check. From a hits-per-game perspective, Weber's 2.81 in 16 games played was the Sabres statistical leader, just edging the missle-like Patrick Kaleta who averaged 2.8 over his 40 games. In gross minutes, Weber played about 14:00 in total time more than Kaleta.
Once Weber achieves a higher comfort level, expect him to assert his aggressive side even more. That's well and good, but the system is lacking in players with similar instincts. The past couple of seasons have seen the Sabres D fall on the wrong side of the 'pound-vs-get pounded' equation, and the suggestion that Buffalo needs another nasty crease-clearer is plain as day.
If the Sabres are having a hard time choosing a defenseman, they may want to give deeper consideration to a right-hander. All of the Sabres top-tier prospects are lefties, and the top-5 rated rearguards for 2008 are all right-handed. However, the remaining 2008 D crop is dominated by left handers. There are currently just four dmen in the pipeline who shoot from the right, and the lack of those curves has been a trouble spot on the top roster since the lockout ended.
Pay It Forward?
The average Sabres forward prospect runs 6'0, 190-pounds, yet two of their more prolific scorers in 2007-08 - Nathan Gerbe (5'5, 160 lbs.) and Paul Byron (5'10, 145 lbs.) - clock in well below the norm for a developing NHLer. Not short on speed and skill, the system would welcome additional scoring punch with a large frame.
By the numbers, right wing would be a prime area to target with just three in the system. Ironically, RW is also a spot where size itself isn't much of an issue. Andrew Orpik (6'3, 215 lbs.), and RFA Mark Mancari (6'4, 225 lbs.) represent the two largest bodies up front, while 2007 third-rounder Corey Tropp is 6'0, 185 pounds and growing. With Mancari in limbo, the Sabres could certainly afford to add some pop down the right side.
The Sabres are deepest in talent at left wing, with Gerbe, Philip Gogulla, and Tim Kennedy joining emerging RFA Clarke MacArthur and AHL-mainstay Dylan Hunter in the pipeline. Sweetening the pot of possible LW reserves is the skilled Marc-Andre Gragnani who spent his first AHL season flopping between D and LW.
The center position is currently loaded with question marks, headlined by former first-round pick, Marek Zagrapan. After back-to-back seasons of 38 and 40 points, the former first-round pick is entering a make-or-break season in 2008-09. Newly signed Felix Schutz will arrive in the AHL to create a little pressure in the middle of the lineup, while Derek Whitmore's two-year deal marked the end of the road for Benjamin Breault in the Sabres system.
At 6'3, 195-pounds, C/LW J.S. Allard is one of the larger players in the fold, but he's not a big banger. With a career offensive year, he's still showing promise as a possible third-liner. He and the slick Byron will return to the QMJHL next season as the pair enter the next cycle of development.
Many of the current draftees fit the Lindy Ruff blueprint of versatility. Gragnani was third in AHL rookie scoring while splitting time. Gerbe was originally a center, then thrived as a left wing. Tropp, Schutz, Orpik, and Allard also slid into different slots at various points during 2007-08. So while we outline a shortage of natural RW's in the stable, the mission of this draft isn't necessarily an automatic RW refill.
With the signing of 2006 second-rounder, Jhonas Enroth, the Sabres have a good level of talent in goal. UND freshman Brad Eidsness and BGSU sophomore Nick Eno appear to have the inside track on starting NCAA jobs, while Adam Dennis will return to the AHL for depth. With the three E's presumably locked into the pipeline for at least three-years each, the Sabres could theoretically make goaltending the least of their priorities. Regier has stated his preference to take a goalie every draft, and this season could see one drop in the later rounds if he sticks to that philosophy.
The Regier-era Sabres:
- drafted 20 of the 30 players who wore the Sabres sweater in 2007-08.
- have only worked two drafts (1998, 2001) where they haven't taken a goaltender.
- have chosen at least one player from the OHL in every draft (since 1997), and have selected more players there (21) than any other league.
- have drafted a total of 17 players from the WHL, but none have been first rounders.
- have not chosen a player from the WHL in the past three drafts.
- have decent distribution over the past three drafts (23 total picks) with nine Americans, eight Canadians, and six Europeans.
- have taken a total of 28 players directly from Europe - Czech Republic (10), Russia (7), Slovakia (5), Sweden (4), Germany (1), and Finland (1).
- have used four of their eleven first round picks on NCAA players.
- have used 14 of their past 51 picks on players who have developed (or will have as of this fall) in the NCAA.
- have never selected a player from the BCHL, an established feeder league for NCAA talent. 53 players have been plucked from the league since 2000.
Fans should consider it a shame that the Sabres won't be able to cash in the Kriukov comp pick this draft, as there are so many players in the 2nd-4th round range with legitimate game. With that option shut down for now, this would be as good a year as any to consider swapping a spare forward for a pick or two in the top-100.
All in all, employing the BPA (best player available) philosophy when making picks should result in a decent spread among the positions. With this in mind, the Sabres likely aren't concerned about what side a wing prefers as much are they are adding quality talent in general.
Taking recent trends into consideration, let's end with a few names to kick around when thinking about the draft as a whole. Might as well insert the obligatory "crapshoot" disclaimer, and oh, it may not be a bad idea to grab a cold one.
Round 1 (13) - Luca Sbisa (D, Lethbridge-WHL), John Carlson (D, Indiana-USHL), Kyle Beach (RW, Everett-WHL), Colten Teubert (D, Regina-WHL), Mattias Tedenby (LW, HV 71-SEL)
F Mikkel Boedker would be a great choice to someday slide opposite Vanek, but he's likely gone after a strong playoff year with Kitchener. Realistically, power forward to-be Beach is either an 8-9-10 guy, or a player who drops to the bottom half of round one. Enticing defensive project Teubert will be on the board at #13, but his sub-par puck skills outweigh his aggressive tendencies.
It's hard not to love Tedenby's game. The 5'10, quick-footed Swede has dazzling offensive skill and goes hard around the net. I think you can actually hear him buzz. Undaunted by his smallish frame, Tedenby looks to translate well to the NHL game.
It's probably a good idea for the Sabres to concentrate on that second tier of defensemen in this class. Combine stud Carlson is a big 6'2, 212-pound righty that is very intriguing. A good skater with a big shot, he compiled 43 points in his first USHL season. A New Jersey blueline product a la Brennan ('07), Carlson recently spurned his previous committment to U-Mass and is instead heading to London of the OHL.
However, Sbisa is the pick if available.
An all-situations player with a big shot, a set of wheels, and a mean streak, the Swiss-born defender was a beast for the Hurricanes in the WHL playoffs. He exceeded most expectations by showing off his blend of scoring and hitting while navigating his first North American season. Steadily showing consistency, the upside of this mobile, rugged package is too much for Regier to pass up.
Round 1 (26) - Anton Gustafsson (C, Frolunda, Jr.-Swe), Jordan Eberle (C, Regina-WHL), Joe Colborne (C, Camrose-AJHL), Zac Dalpe (RW/C, Penticton-BCHL)
If Sbisa is tabbed at #13, the Sabres are going forward all the way with their other first-rounder.
This would be a great spot to remind readers that last year's #26 pick, David Perron, stepped right into the St. Louis Blues lineup to contribute 13-14-27 in 62 games.
Gustafsson is an easy name to call if he's still on the board at #26. With a pro frame and excellent vision, the two-way pivot has NHL bloodlines (his father is former Capital, Bengt) and is another in a long line of excellent Swedish forwards who won't need loads of seasoning before making a dent in North America.
Even if the Swede is still in play, the chance exists that Eberle becomes the next member of the Sabres. A clutch scorer with pure offensive gifts, the 5'11, 176-pound Regina native is like most 18-year olds in that he'd benefit from a commitment to the weight room. Using talent to make up for strength, he went 4-6-10 for Canada at the U18's last month (while riding shotgun with Cody Hodgson) after a solid 42-goal campaign in the WHL.
The DU-bound Colborne is a guy we kept close tabs on this season while monitoring the progress of Brad Eidsness in Okotoks. There is a split opinion in the scouting circles about Colborne. Many see a 6'5 body that's closing in on 200 pounds and want that to be his main vehicle. He's simply a skilled producer that answered the bell in the CJAHL playoffs (outscored Dalpe head-to-head), and will be a nice player down the middle at the NHL level after a few seasons with Coach Gwozdecky.
In an interview with SabresProspects, Eidsness said this about Colborne: "Joe is a very good player. He has an extremely large frame at 6’5 and when he develops his body he will be a force."
Dalpe, a very talented scorer with great speed, is a fine option to consider if available late in the first. Determined in all zones, the lanky six-footer (thanks to a growth spurt) will be the main attraction at Ohio State for the next couple of seasons. He does most things well offensively, but doesn't quit in his own end either.
From the same Eidsness interview, on the toughest shooter he has faced: "As far as this season goes on our World Jr. A challenge team, Zac Dalpe, who is highly ranked for this years up coming draft and is set to attend Ohio State next fall, has the best release I’ve seen this year."
QMJHL blueliner Yann Sauve had an up and down season for Saint John, likely falling into the second round on many teams boards. However, he's still a very good player that's worth a first-round mention. Despite inconsistency with his feet and decision making, you have to like something about a big, strong guy who fought top-rated Steven Stamkos in the CHL Top Prospects Game.
Round 2 (44) - Johan Motin (D, Farjestad-SEL), Danny Kristo (RW, U.S. NTDP), Corey Trivino (C, Stouffville-OPJRA), Danick Paquette (RW, Lewiston-QMJHL), Luke Adam (C, St. John's-QMJHL), Cory Fienhage (D, Eastview-Minn. HS)
Each team has their own board, and the Sabres have used the 2nd round to pull a punch or two. When the names Fabry, Gogulla, and Schiestel were called, many draftniks had to scroll deep down their lists to cross the name off. If there's a round where they may reach to get player they like, this is it.
Motin is a steady, mature defenseman who played full-time in the SEL this past season. He slipped a bit after a sub-par U20 World Junior tourney, but he's a low-risk, high-effort guy who plays with a mean streak. Nothing flashy here - just the makings of a serviceable support defenseman. Once a top-rated European, a savvy GM will make sure the 6'1, 202-pound righty doesn't make it to round three.
The #44 pick might not be a bad spot to think about Kristo if he's still on the board. A thin U.S. NTDP scorer who'll be heading to North Dakota next season, he'll likely be in demand after a six-point showing in Russia and could go any time after the flip of the round.
The BU-bound Trivino is a slick offensive weapon. With excellent hands and feet, the speedy dangler creates and finishes with equal aptitude. Needing to add a fair amount of beef to his 6'1, 170-pound frame, a team is likely going to jump on the Jr."A" talent after watching him pot four goals for Canada at the U18 tournament in Russia.
Paquette is a player who has the makings of a fan favorite wherever he ends up. A goal scorer who actually learned a trick or two from working with ex-MAINEiac Perron, the 6'0, 209-pounder scored 29 goals this season while fighting his way to 213 PIMS - good for 2nd in the Q. Gifted offensively and a nice guy off the ice, his wrecking ball style can sometimes lead to questionable hits. Being a below average skater may drop him into the third.
The barreling Adam is one of our favorite players in the draft. He goes hard at both ends, and was the leading scorer for St. John's this past season. With an Owen Nolan/Rick Nash type game, he's a responsible, soft-handed scorer who likes use his 6'2, 200-pound body to bang and create. His skating has prevented him from entering the elite tier of forwards.
The wildcard in this spot just might be the athletic Fienhage (pronounced fin-a-gee). At 6'2, 190-lbs, the fleet-footed blueliner will be heading to North Dakota in 2009. An aggressive defender, scouts took notice with his ability to play "big" in a brief USHL stint after his Minnesota HS season ended. A safety on his high school football team, the scrappy right-hander may need another year before entering the NCAA, but his package is something that the Sabres could use more of. Keep your eyes peeled for his name as Draft Combine reports come out.
Round 3 (74) - Daulton Leveille (C, St. Catharines-GHL), Patrice Cormier (C, Rimouski-QMJHL), Andre Petersson (RW, HV71 Jr-Swe), James Livingston (RW, Sault Ste. Marie-OHL), Mark Barberio (D, Moncton-QMJHL)
In recent years, the Sabres have maximized third round value with players like MacArthur, Sekera, and Gragnani. Conventional wisdom says they'll fish out another winner.
Developing twenty minutes up the road in St. Catharines, Sabres scouts are very familiar with Leveille. A dominant force with 14 goals in 16 games of the Golden Horseshoe League playoffs, Leveille is a fabulous skater who excels in space, including on the penalty kill where he scored six of his 29 goals in the regular season. At 6'0, 163-pounds, perhaps his thin frame allows him to fall to Buffalo in this spot. Then again, there's enough buzz where a team could very well take him in the top 40. Difficult to assess against Junior B competition, he'll matriculate to Michigan State of the robust CCHA in the fall.
Scouts fell in love with Cormier as a bantam, when he scored 91 points in 26 games at the age of 14. He hasn't had another statisitcal year like that since, but he's become an intense power forward who can produce modest offensive numbers. Standing 6'2, 200-pounds, Cormier scored 18 goals and 41 points to go along with 84 PIMs last season.
The speedy Petersson will bring a quick release and excellent offensive skills to an NHL depth chart. Sliding in rankings before Christmas, the 5'9 wing made a statement with four goals and four assists at the U18's in April. With history in mind, it's reasonable to think the Sabres opt for a player who's similar in size to highly-ranked Swede, Mattias Tedenby, just less consistent. He should be considered an x-factor in this draft.
A lumbering stride could cause Livingston to last until the Sabres pick at #74. A solid 6'1, 200-pound right wing, he's a bull down low with excellent offensive instincts. Better, more consistent scoring may still be on the board, but clubs can always use workmanlike, team-first players who can add points to the middle of a lineup.
Steady and poised with a somewhat awkward stride, Barberio scored 11 goals and 46 total points this past season in the Q. The 6'1, 200-pounder isn't very physical (only 20 hits all last season), but has an excellent all-around game indicative of a steady NHL defender to-be.
Round 4 (104) - Marc-Andre Bourdon (D, Rouyn-Noranda-QMJHL), Brett Theberge (C, Peterborough-OHL), Marco Scandella (D, Val d'Or-QMJHL), Patrick Wiercioch (D, Omaha-USHL), Geordie Wudrick (LW, Swift Current-WHL)
We're tabbing the under-rated Bourdon ahead of where most bureaus have placed him all season long. Standing 6'2, 206 pounds, the QMJHL Defenseman of the Year scored 59 points, was +39, and had eight fights while helping lead a potent Huskies attack. Perhaps not the most gifted skater, Bourdon brings all of the necessary skills to suggest he can add depth down the road. Rated the 125th North American skater by CSS, but should go by the end of the 4th round.
Theberge is a tough, two-way center with a good mind for the game. He relishes the shutdown role, and can be looked to for key draws. Standing 6'0, 194-pounds, Theberge could be a bit of a sleeper for a team looking for steady play at the pivot spot. Represented by Hall of Famer Bobby Orr, he scored 13 goals and 39 total points for the Petes in 2007-08.
The 6'2, 195-pound Scandella can be seen as a good value if he's still on the board past #100. He was the only Q defenseman to play for Canada at the U18's. A good skater who advances the puck, Scandella appeared on the draft scene midway through his rookie season of major junior. Simple, reliable, and effective are three words that describe his game.
Wiercioch (pronounced weer-cott) was slowed by injuries during the regular season, but cranked it up in the USHL playoffs with 11 points in 14 games while leading the Lancers to the Clark Cup title. Year after year, the USHL asserts itself as a developmental rival to the CHL. The 6'3 blueline lefty, who previously was a teammate of Kyle Turris in Burnaby (BCHL), will enroll at Wisconsin in 2009.
Wudrick uses a combination of speed and a 6'3, 204-pound frame to get to the net, where he finished 20 plays last year for the Broncos. An improved player who has worn the Canadian Leaf on his sweater, there's a slight chance he's available past 100.
Round 5 (134) - Brett Perlini (RW, Soo Thunderbirds-NOJHL), Milan Doczy (D, Owen Sound-OHL), Brodie Reid (RW, Burnaby-BCHL), Drew Olson (D, Brainerd, MN-USHS), Greg Pateryn (D, Ohio-USHL)
Perlini is a swift skater who scores in bundles. He's got great hands, and doesn't mind hitting traffic to make plays. He tore up the lower-level NOJHL this past season after a tenuous stretch with Ohio (USHL). The lanky 6'2 C/RW will make the leap to the competitive CCHA when he enters Michigan State this fall, and the Sabres have tabbed incoming Spartans before (Kennedy, Tropp, Miller). Any team selecting the player with British roots will likely have to fend off Detroit and New Jersey.
Doczy recently completed his first season of North American hockey with Owen Sound (OHL). The 6'5, 204-pound Czech is defensive minded with adequate skating ability, and a touch of a mean streak. He uses his long reach to make simple plays. Unranked by CSS, he still could see time at the WJC's in years to come.
An excellent finisher, Reid exploded for an impressive 52 goals in 60 regular season games in the competitive BCHL after just 10 points in 50 games the year prior. It's hard to say if he falls, but if the Sabres are looking for more sniping talent, he could be worth a look here. The 6'0, 185-pound wing who also kills penalties will play in Hockey East next season with Northeastern.
A Mr. Hockey finalist in Minnesota this past year, Olson is best described as a steady, do-it-all defenseman. The Duluth recruit skates and passes very well, and uses his 5'11, 215-pound body to play a physical brand in his own zone. He could play for Omaha of the UHSL for a season before hitting the WCHA.
Pateryn is a 6'2, 212-pound righty who will likely play another season of Jr.A with Ohio before bringing his physical style to the University of Michigan in 2009. Big and smart with good offensive instincts, his only question mark could be his knack for taking penalties.
Round 6 (164) - Paul Lee (C, Avon-USHS), Ryan Grimshaw (D, U.S. NTDP), Daniel Weiss (C, Berlin-Ger.Jr), Greg Burke (LW, NH Jr. Monarchs-EJHL), Alexander Fallstrom (RW, Shattuck-St.Mary's-USHS)
Lee, a 6'2, 200-pound forward, skated on a line with fellow '08 eligibles Cam Atkinson and Patrick Mullane to lead Avon (CT) to the New England Prep Championshp. A two-way, physical battler with decent offensive ability, the New Jersey-born forward will head to Dartmouth in a few months. We like the fact that he takes pride in his defensive zone work, as it's usually indicative of a team-first approach.
An intriguing player in the late rounds is another top performer at the U18's, Grimshaw. A native of nearby Rochester, NY, the defenseman posted three assists and a team-best +7 in seven games. Registering 6'2, 192 pounds while with the U.S. NTDP, the aggressive, blue collar defenseman with a nice point shot will be attending Harvard this fall, where he'll learn the ropes from current prospect and fellow Salisbury School product, Alex Biega.
Weiss, a 6'2 German RW, put up four goals in front of Sabres scouts at the U18's in Kazan. Is it possible that Gogulla and Schutz gave a plug to one of their fellow countrymen? Both he and freight train Toni Ritter were solid at the tourney.
Set to enroll at New Hampshire in 2009, Burke is a big forward who scored 21 goals and 46 total points this season for New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs. He also added five goals in six playoff games to lead his club to the EJHL finals. The Sabres have looked to the Tier-III league late in two of the past four drafts, and 6'2, 190-pound Burke is the best of the bunch.
Born in Stockholm but playing high school hockey with Shattuck, Fallstrom is a 6'1, 190-pound agitator. Currently uncommitted for college, the 17-year old also packs some scoring punch while causing issues for the opposition. He was recently picked up by Des Moines in the USHL draft.
With decent depth developing, SabresProspects isn't in favor of looking at any of the '08 netminders before the fourth round.
Sanborn's Thomas McCollum is the top-rated North American goaltender in the class of '08. Playing with the Guelph Storm, the 6'2 gardien stopped his way to a sub-2.00 GAA in the playoffs after a 25-win regular season. He should be chosen in the top-60.
Spokane's Dustin Tokarski showed his mental wares as a big-time performer with a Memorial Cup win, and could see his stock reflected with a mid-round selection. He had a 2.05 GAA and .922 save percentage for the defense-minded Chiefs.
Posting a .941 save percentage, Barrie's Michael Hutchinson blocked alot of rubber in the OHL playoffs with undermatched Barrie. He was OHL Player of the Week after leading the Colts to a first round upset of Brampton, and just might be the goalie the Sabres look at if he makes it to the later stages.
With lack of a seventh rounder thanks to the Campbell deal, there's extra space to drop a few more names into the hat.
Depite going undrafted as CSS's 119th ranked North American skater in 2007, Vermont's Jack Downing, 19, was a guest at last summer's Sabres Prospects Camp. The 6'2, physcial wing with excellent skating skills scored eight goals as a freshman for the Catamounts, and is again ranked in the same neighborhood for 2008. Downing will be joined by fellow New Canaan, CT native (and current Sabres prospect) Drew MacKenzie in Burlington this fall.
Projected late-rounders Justin and Drew Daniels are twin brothers (C and LW respectively) who turned a struggling Kent School program into a top New England Prep club. Both stand 6'2, and need to add quite a bit of mass to their 160-pound frames. After combining for 80 points last season, the scoring pair are slated to play in Sioux City (USHL) before attending Northeastern in 2009.
The Nathan Gerbe-esque mid-round darling of this draft? How about 5'8, 160-pound defenseman David Warsofsky. The highly skilled puck mover from the U.S. development program racked up seven assists in Kazan, and looks to be positioned as a 3rd-4th rounder. He'll be joining U18 teammate Trivino at Boston University in the fall.
Mikhail Stefanovich might be worth a gander if he somehow slips out of the second round. The 6'2, 206-pounder left his native Belarus for the QMJHL where he scored 32 goals and 66 points in his rookie season. He's got nice moves, but his attitude and work ethic have come under scrutiny at times. Perhaps the Habs pluck him to tag along with fellow Belarussian comrades, the Kostitsyn brothers.
Aside from the top-rated Stamkos, Kelowna's Colin Long was the only other 100-point scorer to attend the NHL Scouting Combine. The 5'11 center finished with an even 100 compared to Stamkos' 105, and could see himself go in the third round after being passed over in 2007. The California native will turn 19 the day before the draft.
(zac-atak) - Aside from first-round studs Bogosian, Boychuk, and Dalpe, there are other Zac's worth a mention.
A fun player to watch has been Missisaugua's Zac Rinaldo. At 5'11, 170-pounds, Rinaldo is a pesky LW who scored 14 points and racked up an impressive 191 PIM's in the OHL. He doesn't have one-punch KO power, but his scraps are spirited.
Peterborough's Zach Harnden is a big wing (6'3, 209 lbs.) who can finish plays from in tight. He's got a long stride and a longer-reaching frame that makes him difficult to handle when the puck is on his rod. He's not overly physical, but he doesn't shy away from contact as evidenced by a few fighting majors.
6'1, 190-pound Kurtis Bartliff scored 36 goals for Listowel of the Jr. B MWJHL (OHA), and is likely to be picked up late. Property of the Sarnia Sting (OHL), he appears headed out west for another season of Jr. A before honoring his committment to Colgate in 2009.
Igor Revenko, a 6'0, 180-pound LW from Belarus, raised a few eyebrows late after scoring three goals and 11 points at the U18's. Previously unranked, he was the 126th rated European on the final CSS list.
A hard-working, 6'2, 193-pound scorer, Marshall Everson cleans up well in front of the net. After a 42-goal campaign while on a line with fellow '08 Anders Lee, the Minnesota high school scorer will be join a Harvard program on the upswing in 2009. He'll get some looks in the late rounds.
A teammate of Doczy in Owen Sound, Michael D'Orazio is a tough, mobile defender who finishes his checks and is patient with the puck. The 6'2, 200-pounder gets his shots through on the PP, and has shown enough to earn a look in the latter half of the deck.
Julien Cayer is a player who has seen his stock fall while playing in the North Country at Northwood Prep. At 6'4, 185 pounds, the Montreal native will take his quick wrist shot down the road to Clarkson next season. If he can add weight and learn to use his body, the deadly shooter might help a club one day.
A guy who already has the big frame is CSS's 163rd ranked North American skater and Buffalo native, Rich Manley. A former member of the Chicago Steel (USHL), the 6'5, 235-pound RW spent last season with Burnaby of the BCHL where he compiled 16-35-51 in 58 games while being one of their top players down the stretch. Currently uncommitted to an NCAA program, Manley could be tabbed anytime after the fifth round.
Fredonia's Nick Bailen is another local product eligible for the draft. The 5'10, 175-pound defenseman scored eight goals, 21 points, and racked up 157 PIMs for Indiana of the USHL last season. Unranked by CSS, Bailen committed to Bowling Green back in November of 2005.
Originally placed on CSS "Players to Watch" list, Grand Island's Matt Zarbo is another unranked WNY native eligible for selection. A hard working left winger with the EJHL's Jr. Bruins, Zarbo ('08) and younger brother/linemate Joe ('09) have both committed to Clarkson. Tri-City owns both of their USHL rights.
Previously displaying a liking for Russians, the Sabres have only chosen one in the last four drafts. That pick (Buravchikov, 6th round, 2005) was used on a player who dropped so far that his selection was justified. Since then, the inability to get the Russian officials to agree to an IIHF transfer agreement has many NHL clubs scratching their heads when it comes to choosing Russian talent.
The Sabres can be considered risk-takers at the draft table, but for now it may be wise if they stay away another year while that situation sorts itself out. This means possibly ignoring immense talents of the top-5 Russian skaters - Nikita Filatov, Kiril Petrov, Viktor Tikhonov, Vjacheslav Voinov, and Evgeny Grachev. There is ample talent to be found elsewhere.