Every year it seems we search for the best way to build the best team in the NHL. Here's a new idea - pick first. I think the Buffalo Sabres should take a long hard look at doing what it takes to picking first in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft.
There are a few things I need to say off the bat:
1. I don't know that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (ranked as the #1 North American skater by Central Scouting) is a prospect on the level with Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin
2. I don't know exactly what it would take to get up to the #1 pick in the draft
3. This involves a bit of risk, so if you're super conservative by nature it might not be for you.
Ok, now to the very quick nuts and bolts of this idea...
The Buffalo Sabres need more skilled players on the team. They need a player that can change a game like Steven Stamkos or Sidney Crosby. Problem is that these players are often unavailable. Yes Stamkos is available as a restricted free agent, but it will cost you a GIGUNDO contract and compensation in the form of 4 first round draft picks.
So why not try to get a guy like that...by picking him.
Moving from the later stage of the first round to the #1 spot might cost you a first round pick. It might cost you a pick and a player. It won't cost you THREE firsts, and it won't cost you the huge contract you need to have that guy on your team.
In the history of the NHL's current entry-level contracts - no player as EVER been overpaid.
The #1 spot in the NHL draft is actually a GREAT predictor of success. This is not the NFL Draft which we often label a crapshoot. The odds of hitting the #1 pick in the NFL Draft are about 50%, while in the NHL it's about 80%.
Check the history of the #1 pick
Stamkos is a game changer. Crosby, Ovechkin, Kane, Toews, Doughty, Malkin, Thornton...the list goes on and on. Look at the history of the top 3 picks in the NHL Draft. It's where superstars are up for grabs.
Last night in Boston, Tyler Seguin, the #2 overall pick in the draft scored 2 goals and helped on 2 others. He is a part of this Boston team that might just win the Stanley Cup, and if they have to wait a few more years...my guess is that he'll be a big part of that too.
Top picks in the NHL make a difference.
If Sabres President Ted Black and team owner Terry Pegula are interested in looking at all options, then that means they'll look at this one.
Unrestricted Free Agency - costs a lot of money and doesn't have a great track record of success
Restricted Free Agency - LOTS of compensation in picks and contract
Drafting high - CUPS.
You get all the benefits, and you don't even have to suck at hockey for a few years to get those high picks.
So yeah...draft day should be fun.