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JW: What good are all these picks?

The Sabres currently hold two picks in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft, and three in the second round.  Five selections of the first 60 players is a good haul for any franchise, and vital to the rebuilding process.  Problem is that in the NHL Draft it's about quality, and not quantity.  Regier's drafted here for 16 years.  Just how's he done?

Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier is going to get the opportunity to draft at the top of this year’s draft.  It’s likely the Sabres pick at #2 or #3, with #1 being only a 25% chance for the worst team in the league thanks to the lottery.


I know what you’re saying:


“How can we trust Darcy to make those high picks?”

“Can he draft anyone right?”

“Who has he drafted that’s turned into a great goal scorer?”

“Vanek was 5th!  No other first rounder has developed into a great player under DR!”’


These are all fine points and you can argue them if you’d like.  Regier is staying on as GM of the Sabres, and we should probably accept it.  I have, and that’s why I often point that AUTO-DRAFT could field a successful team given the opportunity.


Let’s take a look at Darcy’s drafts from 1997-2010.  By year, I’ll list for you the players that were notable in the first round each year.  Year by year, I’ll list the players the Sabres did not have a chance to draft (unless they moved up which Regier often talks about as very difficult), and then the players that they passed on (who were still taken in the first round) because they took someone else.


You make your judgements from there.


1997 - Selected Mika Noronen 21st


Players unavailable to the Sabres: 

Joe Thornton

Patrick Marleau

Olli Jokinen

Eric Brewer

Marian Hossa

Dan Cleary


1st rounders passed on:
Brenden Morrow

Scott Hannan


1998 - Dmitri Kalinin 18th


Vincent Lecavalier

Brad Stuart

Alex Tanguay


Passed on:

Robyn Regehr

Simon Gagne

Scott Gomez


1999 - Barret Heisten 20th


Henrik Sedin

Daniel Sedin


Passed on:

Nick Boynton

Martin Havlat


1999’s draft was horrendous.


2000 - Artem Kryukov 15th 


Dany Heatley

Marian Gaborik

Scott Hartnell


Passed on:

Marcel Hossa

Brooks Orpik

Alexander Frolov

Justin Williams

Steve Ott

Anton Volchenkov

Niklas Kronwall


2001 - Jiri Novotny 22nd


Ilya Kovalchuk

Jason Spezza

Stephen Weiss

Mikko Koivu

Mike Komisarek

Tuomo Ruutu

Ales Hemsky

Dan Hamhuis

Chuck Kobasew

RJ Umberger

Colby Armstrong


Passed on:

Tim Gleason

David Steckel


2002 - Keith Ballard and Dan Paille 11th and 20th


Rick Nash

Kari Lehtonen

Jay Bouwmeester

Ryan Whitney

Scotty Upshall

Joffrey Lupul


Passed on:

Alex Semin

Anton Babchuk (twice)

Cam Ward (twice)

Alex Steen (twice)


2003 - Thomas Vanek 5th


Eric Staal

Nathan Horton


Passed on:

Milan Michalek

Ryan Suter

Braydon Coburn

Dion Phaneuf

Jeff Carter

Dustin Brown

Brent Seabrook

Zach Parise

Ryan Getzlaf

Brent Burns

Ryan Kesler

Mike Richards

Corey Perry

Patrick Eaves


2004 - Drew Stafford 13th 


Alex Ovechkin

Evgeni Malkin

Andrew Ladd

Blake Wheeler


Passed on:

Mike Green

Andrej Meszaros


2005 - Marek Zagrapan 13th


Sidney Crosby (LOTTERY!!!!)

Bobby Ryan

Jack Johnson

Carey Price

Devin Setoguchi

Anze Kopitar

Marc Staal


Passed on:

Ryan Parent

TJ Oshie

Martin Hanzal

Tukka Rask

Andrew Cogliano

Steve Downie

Matt Niskanen


2006 - Dennis Persson 24th


Erik Johnson

Jordan Staal

Jonathan Toews

Nicklas Backstrom (the center)

Phil Kessel

Kyle Okposo

Peter Mueller

Michael Frolik

Jonathan Bernier

Michael Grabner

Claude Giroux


Passed on:

Nick Foligno


2007 - No Pick I’ll split down the middle from the 15th pick.


Top 15 - Patrick Kane, JVR, Kyle Turris, Sam Gagner, Jakub Voracek, Logan Couture, Brandon Sutter, Ryan McDonagh, Lars Eller, Kevin Shattenkirk.


Bottom 15 - David Perron, Max Pacioretty.


2008 - Tyler Myers and Tyler Ennis 12th and 26th 


Steven Stamkos

Drew Doughty

Zach Bogosian

Alex Pietrangelo

Luke Schenn

Josh Bailey

Cody Hodgson


Passed on:

Erik Karlsson

Jake Gardiner

Jordan Eberle


2009 - Zack Kassian 13th 


John Tavares

Victor Hedman

Matt Duchene

Evander Kane

Brayden Schenn

Oliver Ekman-Larsson

Nazem Kadri

Jared Cowen


Passed on:

Chris Kreider

Tim Erixon

Marcus Johansson

Carter Ashton


2010 - Mark Pysyk 23rd 


Taylor Hall

Tyler Seguin

Ryan Johansen

Jeff Skinner


Passed on:

Emerson Etem

Make your own conclusions.  Field a team of "Unavailables" against a team of "Passed Ons".  Which team do you want?  This year the Sabres will get at least one of those guys that they've seldom had a sniff of.  In theory that Islanders pick could help them build because it’ll likely be somewhere in the middle.

Regier has had some major misses along the way.  There are consecutive years of whiffs on first round picks.  Some drafts are better than others. The 2003 class brought the Sabres their best pick, but it was also the very best draft of the bunch.  Every time you see the list of players that the Sabres passed on, consider the names in there that amounted to nothing.


Ryan Miller, Steve Ott, Henrik Tallinder, Drew Stafford, Matt Moulson, and *Insert Name Here* can also be moved.  They’re trying to load the cupboard.  What will it get them?  Time will tell.  I'd dump enough pieces to get 10 first rounders, and then trade them for two at the top.  Draft picks in the NFL are like lottery tickets.  In the NHL it's more like being able to pick a hand in blackjack.  

More is not better.


High is better.

The proof is everywhere.


Darcy Regier's highest pick in the drat was Thomas Vanek at #5.  His next highest was this past summer with Rasmus Ristolainen at 8th overall.  He hasn't had any other picks in the Top 10.  Regier's not been bad enough as GM to get picks high enough to be bailed out by great players that you get for free at the draft.  

This isn't a defense of the GM.  
If you don’t have faith in him, have faith in the draft.  The best players go at the top.  If you’re high enough, you almost can’t miss.  

It'll all turn around eventually...especially if the Islanders go in the tank.



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