The Sabres were right back at it on Saturday, kicking off the NHL Draft's second round with the selection of Brendan Lemieux, son of former NHLer, Claude. Similar to his father, Brendan brings a tough and antagonistic playing style to Buffalo, leading Barrie (OHL) in penalty minutes during the 2013-14 season with 145. Lemieux can also find the net, picking up 27 goals last season, plus seven in 11 playoff games.
Although happy to be joining the Sabres, Lemieux fully expected to hear his name called during the first round in Philadelphia. "Things have a way of working out," he said. "I think it could be a blessing in disguise that I had to wait it out. I'm proud to be picked as the first pick of the second round, and I'm just going to use it as fuel now."
Regarding the teams that passed on him during the first round, Lemieux didn't mince words. "I'm definitely going to love going into their arenas and making it hard on their guys," he said. "They decided to pass me over so I'm just going to use this as fuel. They gave one of the more fiery guys in the draft, I'd like to say, a lot more fire."
Lemieux, 18 years old, is 6'0" and 206 pounds. Like the Sabres' first-round selection, Sam Reinhart, Lemieux comes from a hockey family. His father was part of four Stanley Cup champions, including the 1995 New Jersey Devils. Claude Lemieux scored 13 goals during the '95 postseason, an effort that earned him the Conn Smythe Trophy.
"He's definitely not quiet, he's a leader," Claude said of his son. "He's a winner, he loves to win and he plays the game the right way. It's the kind of player you need when you're in a rebuilding mode. You want to have these character players."
"It's like a recipe," the elder Lemieux added. "You need a little bit of everything. You can't just have potatoes in your beef stew. You gotta have a little bit of spice, and he'll definitely bring that."
Buffalo traded its next pick, 39 overall, to Washington in exchange for the 44th and 74th selections. With that 44th overall slot, the Sabres went with another center, Eric Cornel from Peterborough of the OHL. Cornel, 6'2" and 184 pounds, netted 25 goals and 62 points for the Petes last season and played much of the year on their top line alongside the 10th overall pick in the draft, Nick Ritchie.
"Talking with my agent, he said there's a lot of up-and-coming young guys [with the Sabres], a lot of opportunity," said Cornel. "I've been [to Buffalo] a couple of times. It's a really good sports town. I'm just pretty excited to be a Sabre."
With their third pick of the second round (49 overall), the Sabres landed right wing Vaclav Karabacek, coming off a postseason that saw him rack up six goals and six assists for QMJHL's Gatineau.
Buffalo added a goaltender with the first selection of round three (61 overall). Jonas Johansson, a 6'3" netminder out of Sweden, is now a member of the Sabres. Johansson recorded a 2.32 GAA and .911 save percentage in 23 games for Brynas Jr. Later in the third, with the 74th overall pick, Buffalo went defense for the first time in the draft, selecting Brycen Martin from Swift Current of the WHL. Martin recorded 37 points, including 31 assists, in 2013-14.
"I play a two-way style. I kind of lean toward more of an offensive style," Martin said regarding his strengths. "I like to run the power play and whatnot, so more of a two-way offensive defenseman. I like to jump up in the play."
After sitting out the fourth round, the Sabres used the first selection of round five on American center Max Willman, committed to Brown University and set to join the Bears this fall. Willman scored 21 goals last year for prep school Williston-Northampton in Easthampton, Massachusetts. Buffalo went with another high schooler in the sixth round, Chris Brown from Cranbrook Kingswood in Michigan. Brown is committed to play in 2014-15 at Boston College.
With their final pick of the day, 181 overall in the seventh round, the Sabres went with 5'7" right wing Victor Olofsson, who scored 32 goals in 44 games last season for Modo Jr. in Sweden.