History Suggests Sabres Could Land Quality Players at Picks 9, 16
The NHL conducted their draft lottery tonight and the Buffalo Sabres made out pretty well in the grand scheme of things.
The first order of business on Tuesday was for Kevyn Adams and company to find out whether the Vegas Golden Knights' first-round pick would stay at 16 where they were slotted to pick prior to the lottery balls being picked, or whether the Golden Knights would move into 6th place should they win the lottery. Had the pick moved to sixth overall, the Sabres would have gained the Knights’ 2023 first-round pick instead of this year's selection, but that didn’t come to fruition and Vegas stayed at 16. That first-round pick, of course, came to the Buffalo Sabres as part of the Jack Eichel trade back in the fall.
At 16, the Sabres will have options such as Kevin Korchinski (defense), Danila Yurov (right wing), Lian Bichsel (defense), Cutter Gauthier (left wing), and Jimmy Snuggerud (right wing), among others. These names are pulled from numerous draft ranking sources and it’s possible some of these names go much sooner or much later than 16th overall; these are merely a smattering of names frequently seen around the 16th pick on various draft boards.
Unfortunately this is a weak first-round goaltender draft as opposed to last year so the Sabres won’t have the opportunity to stock the cupboard in net. Still, there are plenty of good options in the middle of the first round.
For reference, recent NHL Draft picks at 16 include:
2010: Vladimir Tarasenko
2011: Joel Armia
2012: Tom Wilson
2013: Nikita Zadorov
2014: Sonny Milano
2015: Mathew Barzal
2016: Jakob Chychrun
2017: Juuso Valimaki
That’s a quality smattering of game-changing talent and solid depth pieces. The Sabres would do well to land a piece of that caliber (on average).
Meanwhile, with their own pick in this year’s draft, the Sabres had the potential to move up to either the second or first overall pick this year if the lottery balls landed their way. That didn’t happen, but they also didn’t slide further down the board as was possible if a team below them in the pre-lottery draft board had leapfrogged them. With the 9th overall pick, the Sabres will have options such as Frank Nazar (center), Pavel Mintyukov (defense), Joakim Kemell (right wing), Jonathan Lekkerimäki, or Danila Yurov (right wing), among others.
Truth be told, the Sabres didn’t deserve to win the lottery after hitting triple sevens last year and pulling down Owen Power. They also landed the first overall pick back in 2018 when they snagged Rasmus Dahlin at 1 overall. In any case, history tells us that the Sabres will have a shot at a solid player at 9th overall as well.
2010: Mikael Granlund
2011: Dougie Hamilton
2012: Jacob Trouba
2013: Bo Horvat
2014: Nikolaj Ehlers
2015: Zachary Senyshyn
2016: Mikhail Sergachev
2017: Michael Rasmussen
Again, there are some nice names here in the mix. The Sabres will likely land a player who will at least play in the NHL for a while with that pick.
Elsewhere, the Sabres are still waiting to find out where they will pick with the Florida Panther’s first rounder this year. The highest possible position for that pick is currently 28th. That pick could potentially be in play to land an NHL-ready to body to contribute now via trade, or it could be spent on a project that will take some time.
All things considered, it was a solid night for the Sabres.