The case for Mignardi

Sabres fans who have sat idle for nearly two months are on the cusp of an interesting couple of weeks. The first draft of the Pegula Era kicks off on Friday, followed shortly thereafter by the July 1st flurry of NHL free agency. With coffers prepared to lure marquee talent, it's not as if Sabres GM Darcy Regier can simply dip into the trust fund and buy toys. He's actually shouldered with the task of overcoming the shadow of the Golisano regime when dealing with prime targets, all the while being a sharp assessor of the trade market. It's an interesting process. 

Until then though, there are options on the table that don't need to be drafted and don't have to wait until July 1st to sign a deal. One in particular is 20-year old Robby Mignardi, a player passed over three times at the draft who recently completed his junior career with the OHL Champion Owen Sound Attack.

Mignardi was the talk of the OHL postseason, earning MVP honors with 15 goals and 24 points in the Attack's 22-game title run. The overage right wing carried his soft hands into the Memorial Cup, scoring two goals including a shorthanded marker as Owen Sound opened the tournament with a 5-0 drubbing of Kootenay. The finishing kick capped a two-year span that saw the 6'0, 186-pounder bury 62 regular season pucks and attract several suitors in search of scoring depth.

Mignardi, who turns 21 the week after the draft, complements his offensive skills by working hard in both ends and winning one-on-one battles. It's his defensive side, honed by playing the majority of his career on teams left out of of the playoffs (he played in just two postseason games as a 17-year old before his spring spike), that really makes him a legit overage prospect. Mignardi netted a +35 rating this past season while playing a secondary role to surpass Bobby Ryan (+30, 2004-05) for Owen Sound's all-time single-season record. Perhaps not the greatest accelerator, he skates well enough and is quick to produce when given just a little bit of space. He's also proven to be a solid character guy.

New blood with pop in the stick would be a welcome addition to the Sabres pipeline, so despite having prospect depth at right wing, they could make a strong play for the gifted right-hander. After all, they've only burned out 26 of their 50 contract slots and it would make great sense to use one on a guy who can light the lamp. At the very least we're putting him on the radar for a possible development camp invite if he's still unsigned come July.
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