It’s been a rough off season already for GM Tim Murray, however he has consistently come away with some good consolation prizes. First he suffered through the draft lottery in which the first overall pick was ripped from his hands, and we also witnessed something similar when Mike Babcock passed on the Sabres and their vacant coaching spot and moved on to tackle the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, in both of those situations, the Sabres walked away with some pieces that you’d still consider to be very good. Dan Bylsma will prove to be a very wise investment, and though Murray had his eyes (and heart) set on Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel has the ability to be the franchise center the Sabres need.
This draft is a game changer for the Sabres, and they have a chance to do things even bigger than many expect. I’ve thrown this proposal around in the past, and please note this is purely speculation, but I wonder if Murray would consider shipping off Sam Reinhart in order to attain the third overall selection and grab one of Marner or, the more likely pick, Noah Hanifin. Grabbing a franchise defenceman and a franchise center in the same draft could end up being one of the most brilliant moments in draft day history we’ve seen in a while.
Aside from the speculation talk, the Sabres have a pretty straightforward draft day ahead of them. Make picks and find a goalie. With the depth in the Sabres organization, it’s possible we see them move one or two pieces or picks in order to grab a goalie like Lehner or Talbot. With picks at 21, 31, and 51, Murray can definitely walk away with some solid prospects.
At 21, likely a faller, watch for Zboril, Kylington, maybe a guy like Nick Merkley. At 31, if he’s still available, Ilya Samsonov is the guy. At 51, it’s tough to say who’s available, but possibly a player like Travis Dermott or Parker Wotherspoon would be good additions. All in all, it may not be an action packed weekend for the Sabres, but with the promise of Eichel, it will surely be a day to remember.
Draft Day Gameplan
– Stay the course, acquire good, young talent whether it’s through picks or trades.
– Add a young goaltender. I would not pass on Samsonov at 31, but I’d also be very interested in adding a goaltender like Lehner to the mix.
– If there’s a good deal for Grigorenko consider it. Maybe a Grigorenko for Gormley swap?
– Hit it big with 21. I love Jacob Larsson and Oliver Kylington, both of whom are likely available come the 21st pick.
Sabres Big Board
1. Connor McDavid
2. Jack Eichel
3. Noah Hanifin
4. Dylan Strome
5. Mitchell Marner
6. Ivan Provorov
7. Zach Werenski
8. Pavel Zacha
9. Mikko Rantanen
10. Mathew Barzal
Who do they take?
Jack Eichel. No darkhorse, but I do think that grabbing Hanifin at 3 would make a huge difference moving forward.