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Will the Sabres’ No. 1 pick play in Buffalo this year?



Buffalo Sabres’ general manager Tim Murray has had quotes on both sides of the aisle about whether this year’s No. 2 overall pick will play in Buffalo. Of course, the Sabres will have to look at their selection in development camp, training camp and even 10 NHL games before they make a final decision, but we can still handicap the chances Sabres fans get to see Mr. No. 2 during the 2013-14 season.

While much could change on draft day, it is expected that the Sabres will draft one of four players: Aaron Ekblad, Sam Reinhart, Sam Bennett or Leon Draisaitl. The decision on whether to keep Draft Pick X in Buffalo or send him back to juniors will depend on the individual, the lineup and how the choice will affect the player’s long-term development.

What do the number say?

Yeah, there is a stat for that.

First: Last season we saw a handful of 2013 draft picks play most of the year in the NHL. Here is how they faired:

(1) Nathan MacKinnion – 82 games - 24 goals, 39 assists
(2) Alexsander Barkov – 54 games – 8 goals, 16 assists
(4) Seth Jones – 77 games – 6 goals, 19 assists
(5) Elias Lindholm – 58 games – 9 goals, 12 assists
(6) Sean Monahan – 75 games – 22 goals, 12 assists
 (10)Valeri Nichushkin – 79 games, 14 goals, 20 assists

OK, now for the stat.

Hockey analytics pioneer Gabe Desjardins developed a statistical model for projecting players who go from juniors to the NHL. This will, obviously, only apply to the forwards in this case.

READ ABOUT THE MODEL HERE

Plugged into the formula, here is how the top three came out:

Sam Reinhart (WHL) 15-28-43
Leon Draisaitl (WHL) 15-25-40
Sam Bennett (OHL) 16-23-39

As you can see, the three are projected to be amazingly close if given a full NHL season. That should not come as a shock seeing as they are all CHL players who posted very similar junior numbers. Reinhart and Draisaitl scored 105 points and Bennett had 91.

By this measure – and you can be sure Draftee 2 would get power play time and top line minutes – all three draft picks could outscore every 2013-14 Sabre except Cody Hodgson and Tyler Ennis.

What do the scouts say?

At the combine, every player with a pulse said they were NHL-ready for the 2014-15 season.

The factors at play will be: The player’s physical readiness, mental maturity, skill set, place on the roster.

Last one first. The current forward group with guaranteed spots includes Zemgus Girgensons, Cody Hodgson, Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno, Nick Deslauriers, Torrey Mitchell, Drew Stafford and Chris Stewart.

Competing for a spot will be Brian Flynn, Cory Conacher, Mikhail Grigorenko, Joel Armia, Matt Ellis, Johan Larsson and Tim Schaller.
Of course, the Sabres will have to sign a few players or take on contracts to get to the salary cap floor.
So it is possible roster wise, but not a lock.

From a physical standpoint, Ekblad stands out as the most ready.

The National Post wrote:

In Barrie, Colts teammate, roommate and best friend Brendan Lemieux — a projected first- or second-round pick in his own right and the son of former NHL agitator Claude Lemieux — saw Ekblad show even more.

“Ek really showed that he was willing to stand up and answer the bell, even with his gloves off. I watched him pound a few guys this year,” Lemieux said at the combine. “He might not show that physical presence and how big he is and how tough he can be, but he’s a tough guy, too. He’s not just a super-skilled big guy, he’s a super-skilled big, tough guy.”

Skill set may give the edge to Draisaitl. He plays an “NHL style” game.

Central Scouting on Draisaitl:

"He plays a big, power forward-style of game," Central Scouting's B.J. Macdonald said. "He goes to the net and the opposition has a hard time stopping him from getting there. He's a big presence in front of the goal and skates well with deceptive speed. He can shoot the puck and overpower goalies with it. I like his style and attitude; he has a lot of upside"

Mentally, Reinhart is No. 1

Central Scouting on Reinhart:

“He’s one of the best when he’s given an opportunity to capitalize on it,” said Dan Marr, director of NHL Central Scouting. “If you turn the puck over and you’re not careful, he’s going to burn you. If he gets the chance to score, he’s a good scorer, but his vision, his anticipation, his hockey sense is what sets him apart from a lot of players.”

Bennett stands out as being able to give the night-to-night effort required to play in the Big Leagues

Hockey’s Future: On Bennett

"But what makes Bennett even more appealing is his willingness and ability to play a physical game. Last year, in 60 contests, he racked up 87 penalty minutes. This year, in only 40 games, he’s almost surpassed those totals with 85 penalty minutes.

He’s also displayed a maturity beyond his years, playing a focal role on the Frontenacs despite not turning 18 until late June."

What you find is that any of the four have a chance to play at the NHL level. The difference will depend on how they perform at training camp and whether the Sabres feel they are ready to handle the jump. It is unlikely the appeal of giving fans a young star to watch will make a difference, but fans will be rooting for No. 2 Pick Guy to stand out in camp and make the club.
 
 

06/25/2014 5:44AM
Will the Sabres’ No. 1 pick play in Buffalo this year?
Please enter your comments below.
06/25/2014 6:59AM
Sabres Fan in Kingston
If Ekblad then yes. If anyone else then they will be with the Sabres for training camp and the first few regular season games. Then he will be returned to junior to log minutes and continue his development.
06/25/2014 8:33AM
Why not? (from my Armchair)
Reinhart says he's ready for the NHL. I agree. That's who the Sabres better draft. None of this Rochester cr*p or back to Juniors. This guy is ready now on the first line. Reinhart, Moulson, and Callahan. I'm on board.
06/25/2014 8:51AM
Hasek makes the HOF
Now that is what Elite is to all the Miller lovers.
06/25/2014 9:00AM
You forgot someone
What about Patrick Kaleta?
06/25/2014 9:18AM
McDavid who?
If I'm Murray....whoever it is gets a taste of the NHL for motivation then goes back to the bus rides in Junior so that our chances in the 2015 Draft remain high. Connor McDavid is the PRIZE and we might as well try to rebuild around the best playeravailable. Kane and Toewes have done all right together as have Malkin and Crosby. The last bonafide Sabres Superstar other than Hasek was Gil Perreault...that is a hard fact to swallow.
06/25/2014 10:21AM
All I have to say
No Ellis, No Flynn, and No Ennis. GET RID OF THEM!!! Few others the Sabres can dump off this roster. Not into seeing suck again this coming season or I just won't buy tickets like I did last season putting up with it. This team sucked and 90% of this roster should be scrapped. Wake up Matt!!! This write up gives me NO HOPE. Re write it over again and this time THINK! Send Weber packing too along with the Pylons.
06/25/2014 10:31AM
Rot in Rochester
Just like number one pick Joel Armia, this pick will go to Rochester for "seasoning". What a joke. Even though Armia had 2 years "seasoning" in Finland, they wasted him last year. He could have picked up some valuable experience playing at LEAST ONE GAME in Buffalo, but no.....he rotted in Rochester.
06/25/2014 1:17PM
Reinhart
He reminds me of Kane, sign me up...
06/25/2014 1:32PM
HEY KID... JUST SAY NO!!!!! LINDROS DID!
To the young pup unfortunate enough to be drafted by WALMART: JUST SAY NO YOU WILL NOT GO TO WALMART! SAVE YOUR CAREER AND SAY "NEVER WALMART"! Lindros did it! He said NO TO QUEBEC! WALMART= "THEE BIGGEST NICKLE AND DIME LoOser FRANCHISE IN ALL OF PROFESSIONAL SPORTS"!!! LOOKING FOR ELITE... IS IT MIKA NORENEN? WHO'S ELITE? WHERE'S ELITE? I AM THE ELITE ONE.... SAY MY NAME!
06/25/2014 1:51PM
fans will be rooting for No. 2 Pick Guy to stand out in camp and make the club...
Not this fan. Send him back to juniors. Re-sign Scott, Konopka, Tallinder and Ellis to 1 year deals and lets do last season all over again. I'm ready for that ride and the potential payoff that will come with it. Let's go Sabres!!!
06/25/2014 3:23PM
LaFontqaine and Mogilny were the last bonafide superstars
Mogilny-82 goals in a single season, NO Sabre has ever come close. Lafontaine was better than Perrault. Sorry to burst your elementary school bubble.
06/25/2014 3:50PM
This draft is a layup
Basically, whichever forward the Sabres take will be an NHL player with All-Star talent. The trick will be using the later 1st round picks effectively. The dearth of talent now can be attributed to past 1st-round picks like Artem Kryukov, Jiri Novotny, Marek Zagrapan, and Dennis Persson. That's 4 out of 14 years where their first-round pick had hardly a sniff of the NHL. This year is a given. We'll see what Murray can do when they aren't basement dwellers.
06/25/2014 4:08PM
lottery
every time Schopp gives his opinion on how the lottery and draft should go, by awarding the best teams with the 1st pick, i feel the urge to hit him over the head so hard that he gets short term memory loss and forgets he ever said something so stupid. it's about as bad of an idea than the Step Mat from Office Space. Schopp, "everyone is now dumber for having listened to you" you should be kept on half-volume, "and may God have mercy on your soul"
06/25/2014 7:08PM
Really Kaleta!
Kaleta is done along with the rest of the goon squad that can not put the puck into the net. The coach wants toughness with skill. Need to score more then once a year and be able to move the puck. Kaleta, Scott and crew can not.
06/25/2014 7:30PM
Kaleta is....
useless. Forget about him on purpose. Bridges burned. No thank you.
06/25/2014 9:41PM
Re: You forgot someone
Patrick Kaleta don't belong in the NHL. Let him rot in the minors. Please don't be a idiot when commenting on here.
06/26/2014 6:20AM
wow
some of the comments on this article make me was to eat glass...
06/26/2014 10:42AM
The Draft lottery should be a past and throwing seasons stopped
The NHL must find a way to stop teams from throwing games. The goal of every team in the league should be to get in the 8 playoff spots in each Conference. It may be a good idea to have the 9th place team from each Conference play a series for the first pick over all. The losing team gets the second pick over all in the first round. The third overall pick in round one should start with the team that finishes 19th in the league, the fourth over all pick in round one goes to 20th place in the league. And so on. I'm all for that. That would eliminate throwing the season. There would be always something to play for. No team would want to be the worst. The worst team #30th in the league by the way would end up drafting 14th in the first round over all. The eliminated teams in the first round in the playoffs starting from the lowest standing position in the league would start at the 15th selection in the draft and so on. A very simple formula.
06/27/2014 11:53AM
get big
Draisiatl is the way they should go to many small guys on this team who get knocked off the puck. Look at LA Kings squad.
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How does the talent level on the 2014 Bills stack up with the 2013 team?
  This team is more talented
  This team is less talented
  Its about the same
 
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