The Buffalo Sabres completed their mission on Saturday, finishing the draft with six new faces while saying goodbye to two others, Paul Byron and Chris Butler, in the trade to acquire veteran blueliner Robyn Regehr. This is a prospects site, so I'm willing to bet that's the last mention of Robyn Regehr until the parade...
The draft preview suggested that the Sabres would gather four forwards, one goalie, and one defenseman, which is exactly what the Sabres walked away with.
The preview also mentioned a need for scoring forwards, and the Sabres didn't disappoint by choosing the pure offensive talents of Joel Armia and Daniel Catenacci with their first two picks, then later adding the raw power-forward potential of Colin Jacobs and prolific high school stick of Brad Navin.
Local product Alex Lepkowski, a tough, stay-at-home blueliner from Barrie of the OHL, and WHL playoff MVP Nathan Lieuwen, a athletic goaltending project, round out an impressive class that is sure to have an impact on the next SabresProspects rankings.
The updated post-draft depth chart:
Final draft thoughts:
Darcy Regier hadn't drafted a Finnish player since his first ever selection as Sabres GM back in 1997 (Mika Noronen).
I'm still stunned that the guy I wanted at #16, Mark Scheifele, was selected ahead of forecast at the #7 spot, and selected ahead of a guy who has all the tools to make the jump to the NHL next season, Sean Couturier.
The first-round race between the Saint John Sea Dogs and the country of Sweden goes to the Tre Kronor by a 4-3 margin. We're not counting Swedish CHL bookends Gabriel Landeskog (2nd overall) and Rickard Rackell (30th) on the scoreboard.
Does anyone have any idea how excited I am at the prospects of having two 2nd round picks to play with in next year's draft? It has been three years since the Sabres have had an early day two pick, and the last one was used rather well (Luke Adam). Of course, that can all change when the Sabres package, among other things, next year's #1 and their pair of #2's for a top-flight center...
The Ottawa Senators had perhaps the best draft of all 30 teams, and it certainly helped to have had three first-round selections. After getting Mika Zibanejad, Stefan Noesen, and Matt Puempel on day one and then closing the second round with the speedy Shane Prince, the Sens added high-flying Russian Nikita Filatov (drafted 2008), which is a pick-up similar to drafting an unsigned player.
Sabres trend: For the third straight year, the Sabres used their final pick to draft a player passed over in previous drafts (Legault, Boychuk, Navin).
League trend: The "Every Other Year Theory" once again held true. There were no goaltenders taken in the first round of the 2007 and 2009 drafts, and it was of little surprise that none would go until round two of the 2011 process. A total of 19 were selected, with just one standing less than six-feet tall. The 2012 draft pool is top-heavy with defensemen but I'm willing to bet we see at least two goalies go in the Friday portion a year from now.
Do the New York Rangers read this space? After watching them take two guys I coveted in 2009 with their first two picks (Chris Kreider and Ethan Werek), the blue shirts took no fewer than four players mentioned in the 2011 draft preview - J.T. Miller, Steven Fogarty, Michael St. Croix, and Shane McColgan - with their first four picks. Check's in the mail?
I previously mentioned how the Sabres have never taken a player from the BCHL. This year, the NCAA feeder league had just two players drafted.
Finally, in addition to Robby Mignardi who I've already opined on, here are the top-10 players (plus a goalie) I'd like to see the Sabres invite to their Summer Development Camp:
Barclay Goodrow, LW, Brampton (OHL)
Samuel Henley, LW, Lewiston (QMJHL)
Brent Benson, C, Saskatoon (WHL)
Mike Perreira, LW, University of Massachusetts (HE)
Seth Griffith, C, London (OHL)
Aidan Kelly, C, Saint John (QMJHL)
Michael Curtis, LW, Belleville (OHL)
Max LeSieur, RW, Shawinigan (QMJHL)
Chris Bradley, D, Youngstown (USHL)
Michael King, D, Westside (BCHL)
Jared Coreau, G, Northern Michigan (CCHA)
Honorable mention to the diminutive "Wrucking Ball", 5'8 Dylan Wruck of the WHL's Edmonton Oil Kings.