Baker's Dozen: Draft Week

Ladies and gentlemen, Nik Wallenda has left the building. It's draft time.

This edition of the Baker's Dozen holds some notes entering what could be a frenzied week of NHL moves.

1) If we are to believe the news coming out of Edmonton, it appears that the 1st overall pick in the draft will be staying with the Oilers. Nail Yakupov and Ryan Murray are the obvious duo being considered, but rumors suggest that towering defender Griffin Reinhart is also in the discussion. Reinhart's inclusion isn't all that startling seeing how his well-rounded development has taken shape right in front of Oiler brass as a member of the WHL's Oil Kings.

2) I've been getting a lot of questions about the Sabres' chances of moving up in the draft. As stated during WGR 550's Howard Simon Show on Friday, I think it's important that they try to get that skilled difference maker up front. Alex Galchenyuk and Filip Forsberg would be ideal targets at #2 or #4, but perhaps greater potential exists to move to the #6/#7 range to safely get Teuvo Teravainen.

3) Sitting at #6, Anaheim seems to be a compelling trade partner for the Sabres. The Ducks could use some blueline help following the trade of Jake Gardiner and the recent Justin Schultz debacle. Their small market model could also afford more picks. Heck, while chatting I might as well kick the tires of that superb scoring line forward who was the subject of rumors prior to Bruce Boudreau's arrival.

4) From the wishful thinking file: Back in 2008, the Sabres used the 12th overall pick to select the #4 ranked North American skater (Tyler Myers). This year's #4 North American skater? Galchenyuk.

5) I'm curious how many GMs near the top of draft are asking for a 2013 #1 pick to be included as incentive to vacate the top-five. Next year's class is loaded with enough top-end talent that could eventually rival the great 2003 draft (remember these names: MacKinnon, Jones, Shinkaruk, Barkov, Monahan, Rychel, Duclair, Ristolainen, Lazar, Pulock). Depending on the bidder, adding a 2013 first round swing could be like forking over Apple stock.

6) A look back to a year ago offers an interesting scenario to consider as the Sabres approach the 21st selection. Sitting deeper at #26, Washington opted out by trading the pick to Chicago for the rights to restricted free agent, Troy Brouwer. You'd think it'd be a rational thought for Regier if the right player becomes available. The Sabres need to get better now.

7) I hinted at it in the draft preview without ranting on and on, but the Sabres need to look at changing out some veterans if they aren't going to change the coach. I keep looking back to the Kings, who were playing every shift for Sutter en route to their Cup win. Aside from usual suspect Derek Roy, I wouldn't at all be surprised if Thomas Vanek's name surfaces in trade discussions between now and early July.

8) After a brief struggle to start, London's Olli Maatta adjusted rather well in his first season of North American hockey, culminating with a breakout two-way performance in the Knights run to the Memorial Cup final. Word is the Sabres were quite impressed, so much that they were the only team to bring the Finnish defender in for private testing. No word on whether or not Maatta brought with him some hockey cards for his childhood idol, Sabres asisstant Teppo Numminen, to sign.

9) Speaking of the London Knights, the OHL champions are said to have a deal in place to select Swedish netminder Oscar Dansk in the upcoming CHL import draft. Dansk, noted as my favorite goaltender in this week's NHL draft, is a first round talent who could very well be the reason that New Jersey kept their first round pick this year.

10) Staying on the visits, it was not at all surprising to see the Sabres bring Cedric Paquette to town despite him not being listed in Central Scouting's rankings. I included him in the draft preview (5th round) for his intriguing combo of size and raw skills, and there's some validation knowing that the Sabres reacted similarly. The question now is how highly they think of him.

11) A quick pass of recent mock drafts sees the staff at Red Line Report selecting Scott Laughton for the Sabres at #12. Rated as a legit target for #21 in the draft preview, the USA Today mention confirms Laughton's late rise but also shows how wild this first round could be once you get past the top-10.

12) In 2009, I was very convicted in my endorsement of Chris Kreider at #13. A year later, it looked as if the Sabres were going have a crack at the preferred Riley Sheahan at #23 (he went 21st). Last June, they hit their target with Armia. The more I think about it, Maatta would be very hard to pass up at #12 despite the need for better positional balance.

13) The Sabres Prospects mobile bunker should arrive in Pittsburgh early on Friday. In addition to checking this space for news and notes, be sure to follow on Twitter for real time updates as the big show plays out. If you happen to be at the draft, feel free to look for the broom.

Next Post »