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Howard Simon's Blog

Sabres make me think about NHL draft

At least I know the routine, thanks to the Buffalo Bills.  When all hope is lost in a season, start reading up on the draft.  That’s where the Sabres 4-0 home ice loss to the New York Islanders left me.

Good news  Sabres fans.  If they turn out to be one of the worst teams in the NHL this season, there should  be a silver lining in the form of an impact player in the 2013 draft.

The top three prospects are considered by many to be cornerstone pieces for a franchise.  One team’s head of amateur scouting told’s Craig Custance there might be six guys that could change the fortunes of a team.

Another scout said he thinks there will be ten impact players in the draft.

The prized trio of the group are Nathan Mackinnon, Seth Jones and Jonathan Drouin.

Mackinnon is a 5-11, 179 pound center who plays for Halifax in the Quebec Major Junior League.  He has 28 goals and 69 points in 41 games.  Last season Mackinnon recorded 31 goals and 78 points in 58 games.

The hype machine on Mackinnon has been in full force for the last couple of years.  He is considered a franchise center with tremendous skating ability and a combination of skill and grit.  Some scouts believe he is strong enough, quick enough and powerful enough to play against NHL competition right now.

Drouin is a teammate of Mackinnon’s in Halifax.  Drouin is 5’11”, weighs 176 pounds and plays left wing.  He comes from NHL stock, as his Dad Jude played more than 600 games with 4 different teams in his NHL career.

Drouin has absolutely exploded this season, leading with Quebec League with 36 goals and 93 points in just 42 games.  Last season the Quebec native had just 7 goals and 29 points in 33 games.

Even though he’s a winger, Drouin is considered a tremendous playmaker, as evidenced by his 57 assists this season.  He has sky rocketed up the draft boards while exhibiting a high skill level and making numerous highlight reel plays.

The other player in the big three is defenseman Seth Jones, who plays for the Portland Winter Hawks of the Western Hockey League.  A native of Plano, Texas, Jones is a big dude, standing at 6’4” and weighing 206 pounds.  He has 9 goals and 41 points in 43 games this season.  He missed some action to play in the World Junior Championships, where he was a member of the gold medal winning USA club.

To go along with his size, Jones is said to be at an elite level with his skating and skill.  He comes from an athletic background as well.  Jones’ dad is former NBA player Popeye Jones.

Keep in mind the NHL draft lottery has changed in the new CBA.  All 14 teams that miss out on the playoffs are eligible for the first overall selection.  Under the old rules a team could move up no more than four spots so the only clubs that could have gotten the first selection were the ones that finished with one of the five worst records in the league. 

Under the old system, the team finishing with the worst record had a 48% chance of winning the lottery.  Now the odds have dropped to 25%.

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Topics : Sports
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Locations : HalifaxPlanoQuebecTexas
People : Craig CustanceJonathan DrouinNathan MackinnonPopeye JonesSeth Jones

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