Drafting Skills: Buffalo Sabres

Recent Draft History – Evaluating the first 3 rounds of the last 5 Drafts for each team. I’ve left out 2016, as it’s way too early to tell on 95% of the picks. Instead, this will be examining drafts from 2011 to 2015.

Buffalo Sabres

2011 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Joel Armia (RW) 16th overall – Armia was traded with Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford and Brendan Lemieux, plus the 1st round pick in 2015 for Zach Bogosian, Jason Kasdorf and Evander Kane. Looking at just the pick, Armia has finally developed into an everyday NHL player, scoring 19 points in 57 games this season. He was picked slightly early by Winnipeg, with better forwards taken after him including Phillip Danault, Vladislav Namestnikov and Rickard Rakell all taken later in the 1st round.

Round 2 – Pick was traded to St. Louis for Brad Boyes. The Blues picked Joel Edmundson with this pick, who played a full season again this year, while Boyes has since moved on from the NHL. The Sabres would be much better off with Edmundson in the fold, as their blueline needs help as-is.

Round 3 – Daniel Catenacci (C) 77th overall – Catenacci has only played in 11 NHL games to-date, which happened back in 2015-2016. He’s since been traded for fellow AHLer Mathew Bodie. There were 6 other players taken after Catenacci in that 3rd round who have played more NHL games, 3 of which have played over 100 games. Safe to say the Sabres would like a re-do on this one.

2012 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Mikhail Grigorenko (C) 12th overall – Grigorenko has not developed into the force they had hoped he would, being taken so early in this draft. He was dealt out as part of the package that brought in Ryan O’Reilly thankfully for Buffalo. He’s sitting at 64 points in 217 NHL games, which is not ideal for an early 1st round pick.

Round 1 – Zemgus Girgensons (C) 14th overall – Traded the pick 21st overall pick (from Nashville for Paul Gaustad) plus their 2nd round pick to move up to 14th overall. Girgensons hasn’t panned out as they had hoped, as he’s only scored 86 points in 277 games. Girgensons is their second pick of this first round that the Sabres would love to re-do, as there are better players to come after him in the draft.

Round 2 – Jake McCabe (D) 44th overall – Traded Paul Byron, Chris Butler to the Flames for Robyn Regehr, Ales Kotalik and this pick. McCabe has turned into a serviceable d-man for Buffalo, playing in 76 NHL games this year scoring 20 points. He can play a physical game, and plays well in his own end. He’s a great pick in the middle of round 2 for Buffalo, in what turned out to be a weak draft class.

Round 3 – Justin Kea (C) 73rd overall – Kea won’t develop into an NHLer for Buffalo, as he has yet to play in a game, and is still playing the majority of his time at the ECHL level. Taken right after him was Esa Lindell, who looks like he’ll have a good NHL career. Miss here by Buffalo, as there were 6 other players taken after him who have played at least 25 NHL games, and look like they’ll have good, and some great NHL careers.

2013 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Rasmus Ristolainen (D) 8th overall – Ristolainen put up another 40+ point campaign, with 45 in 79 games. He’s the number 1 d-man on Buffalo, and while many question whether he has the skillset to be that player, he’s the best Buffalo currently has. He had a better year this year defensively, as he continues to work on his game. Buffalo wouldn’t change anything about this pick.

Round 1 – Nikita Zadorov (D) 16th overall – Received this pick from Minnesota with other pieces for Jason Pominville and a 4th rounder. I don’t like this trade for Minnesota, especially with losing Pominvile for essentially Zadorov. He was then traded as part of the Ryan O’Reilly trade, which turned out great for Buffalo. Looking at just the pick of Zadorov, he was a good pick if you were looking to add a defenseman at this point in the draft.

Round 2 – JT Compher (C) 35th overall – Received this pick in the Sekera trade, along with Jamie McBain. Another pick given up in the O’Reilly deal, and another under-performing player Buffalo shipped out. He hasn’t developed into any sort of everyday NHL player, and could barely produce for the worst team in the league this year. A miss here by Buffalo with an early 2nd round pick.

Round 2 – Connor Hurley (C) 38th overall – Still playing college hockey, Hurley had a good year for Notre Dame with 16 points in 21 games. He’s been consistent in his years there, and could be a future player, depending on how he transitions to the pro-game in the next year or two. He’s a big-body with skill, something all NHL teams covet in a centre.

Round 2 – Justin Bailey (RW) 52nd overall – Traded Jordan Leopold to the Blues for this pick plus a fourth round pick. Bailey has split time recently in the AHL/NHL, putting up good numbers at the AHL level, but next-to-nothing at the NHL level. He’s still only 21 years old, and stands at 6’3” 214 lbs. He’ll likely have a great chance of making the team out of camp, and could be effective in a 4th line role providing physicality. Decent pick late in round 2 for Buffalo.

Round 3 – Nick Baptiste (C) 69th overall – Made his NHL debut this year, with 4 points in 14 games. Those aren’t great numbers, and the Sabres will likely want to replace him with a more effective player for next season. He’s likely a depth call-up ideally, but if he has a strong chance he could be part of the bright future in Buffalo.

2014 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Sam Reinhart (C) 2nd overall – Reinhart has a ton of skill, but has taken a while to adapt fully to the pro game. He’s small in size, and has struggled to put up points consistently. He’s now paired with one of the best young centres in hockey with Eichel in town, and will need to improve his consistency if he hopes to stick around and be part of the future. The Sabres would likely go a different way with a re-do of this pick with any of Draisaitl, Nylander or Pastrnak providing more offence.

Round 2 – Brendan Lemieux (LW) 31st overall – Part of the Myers/Bogosian trade, Lemieux is a tough customer, but lacks any tangible skills that will make him an NHL player. Bad pick by Buffalo here, taking grit over skill.

Round 2 – Eric Cornel (RW) 44th overall – Traded the 2nd round pick they received from Washington in the Matt Moulson trade for this pick, as well as a 3rd rounder. Played in the AHL this year, putting up a measly 14 points in 67 games, and didn’t put up a crazy amount in junior. Could he develop into an NHL player? Maybe, but doesn’t look likely right now.

Round 2 – Vaclav Karabacek (RW) 49th overall – Received this pick in the Pominville trade. Not a good pick here, and looks even worse considering Pominville is still a very good winger. Karabacek played this season between the AHL/ECHL. In the ECHL, he scored 11 points in 9 games, which are great numbers, but he’ll need to show that kind of poise at the AHL level before he can be considered a legitimate prospect.

Round 3 – Jonas Johansson (G) 61st overall – Johansson had great numbers in Sweden this year, with a GAA of 2.26 and SV% of 0.912. Those are stellar numbers for a young netminder, and while he struggled slightly in his brief stint in the AHL, he has great promise to become a good goaltender. He will start next year in the AHL, where he can work on getting used to the quicker game on the smaller ice surface.

Round 3 – Brycen Martin (D) 74th overall – Received this pick in the trade with Washington. Martin played most of the year in the ECHL, putting up small numbers, but has never been known to put up great offense. He will need a couple years of grooming before he can be viewed as a legit prospect, but looks right now like he’ll at most be a depth call-up.

2015 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Jack Eichel (C) 2nd overall – Eichel is basically already seen as the captain of the Sabres, only 2 years into his career. He was by far the best pick available after McDavid. No other explanation needed, great/easy pick by the Sabres.

Round 2 – Brendan Guhle (D) 51st overall – Buffalo traded their own 2nd rounder in the deal that brought in Ryan O’Reilly and Jamie McGinn, in exchange for Nikita Zadorov, Mikhail Grigorenko and JT Compher. Great trade for Buffalo, as O’Reilly has become one of the best forwards for Buffalo. They received this pick from the Islanders with Matt Moulson for Tomas Vanek. Guhle

Round 3 – Pick was traded to Washington with Jaroslav Halak for Michal Neuvirth and Rostislav Klesla. The pick eventually went to the Rangers, who took Robin Kovacs who has yet to develop. This trade didn’t work out as the Sabres expected, as Neuvirth only played 29 games for Buffalo before moving on.

Buffalo has missed on most of their first round picks, save Jack Eichel. They need to be better in regards to drafting, as that’s the path most teams are taking now to build championship teams. They’ve got a good foundational core to build around, but need to be better if they hope to keep adding to their core.

Drafting Skills: New York Islanders

Recent Draft History – Evaluating the first 3 rounds of the last 5 Drafts for each team. I’ve left out 2016, as it’s way too early to tell on 95% of the picks. Instead, this will be examining drafts from 2011 to 2015.

New York Islanders

2011 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Ryan Strome (C) 5th overall – Strome is a curious case, as he’s had stretches of exceptional play, and also been demoted to the AHL level as recent as the 2015-2016 season. The biggest issue here is that he was drafted top 5, in a draft where he now ranks 18th in scoring. He’s been passed by over a dozen players in terms of current worth, and struggles to find time on the top unit in NY. This looks like a bad pick for the Islanders at this point.

Round 2 – Scott Mayfield (D) 34th overall – Mayfield is another player who has been passed over by players drafted behind him. He’s played in only 36 games at the NHL level, and hasn’t been all that impressive at the AHL level. It’s tough to imagine Mayfield becoming an everyday defenseman.

Round 2 – Johan Sundstrom (C) 50th overall – Sundstrom played a total of 11 games before heading back to Sweden 2 years ago. He’s put up some impressive stats there, but in his last full AHL season he only had 19 points in 72 games. Yet another player in this draft that turned out to be a disappointment for the Islanders. The other bad part is that the Islanders traded away Wisniewski, who played in 266 NHL games after this trade.

Round 3 – Andrey Pedan (D) 63rd overall – Another miss, with only 13 NHL games played. Pedan is now in the Vancouver organization, but will never likely make the jump to the NHL. Bad news? Vincent Trocheck was taken directly after him. Yikes.

2012 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Griffin Reinhart (D) 4th overall – Reinhart has been a massive bust. Somehow, the Islanders were able to flip Reinhart to the Oilers (shocker) for a 1st and 2nd in 2015 (Mathew Barzal), and the Islanders flipped the 2nd round pick to get a 2nd 1st rounder (Beauvillier). I will never understand this trade by Edmonton (among many others).

Round 2 – Ville Pokka (D) 34th overall – Pokka has yet to make his NHL debut, despite being drafted 5 years ago. He was traded to Chicago in the package that brought in Nick Leddy, which has turned out to be great for the Islanders, so I’ll give them a pass on this pick. But in reality, it’s a bad pick.

Round 3 – Adam Pelech (D) 65th overall – Pelech played the majority of this year at the NHL level. He didn’t have much of an impact on the scoring sheet, and the Isles would likely want to upgrade him going into next year, but he will come into camp next year with the probability of making the team. Not bad for a 3rd round pick.

2013 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Ryan Pulock (D) 15th overall – Pulock took a step back this year, like a lot of the current Islanders. He played in 1 game at the NHL level, but scored 46 points in 55 AHL games. I can’t imagine a scenario where he’s not on the opening day roster of an NHL team next year.

Round 2 – Pick was traded to Anaheim for Lubomir Visnovsky. He never excelled in NY, but played fairly consistently for the Islanders. The pick was used on Nick Sorensen, who just made his pro debut this year (22 pts in 48 AHL games).

Round 3 – Eamon McAdam (G) 70th overall – This pick was brough in as part of the Cal Clutterbuck for Nino Niederreiter. McAdam played parts of this year in the AHL and ECHL, posting better numbers in the ECHL. He’s 22 years old, and likely needs to prove himself at the AHL level for a full season if he ever expects to make the jump to the NHL.

Round 3 – Taylor Cammarata (C) 76th overall – Cammarata just finished his 4th year in the NCAA, but didn’t put up impressive numbers. He scored only 5 goals in 34 games, and only hit double digits goals once in his 4 years there. I can’t imagine Cammarata being a legitimate prospect for the Islanders.

2014 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Michael Dal Colle (LW) 5th overall – Dal Colle is shaping up to be a bust just like Reinhart. He has yet to play an NHL game, and only managed 41 points in 75 AHL games. He was taken 5th overall! Taken behind him in the draft: William Nylander, Dylan Larkin, David Pastrnak, Nikolaj Ehlers, Viktor Arvidsson, Robby Fabbri, etc, etc, etc. This is another massive miss for the Islanders.

Round 1 – Josh Ho-Sang (RW) 28th overall – The Isles got this extra pick by trading their 2nd round pick in this draft, and another 2nd round in this draft that they had previously obtained. Ho-sang has been labelled as a prospect with an attitude, but this year he finally made his NHL debut. He put up 10 points in 21 games, and looked more and more comfortable as his time went on. He should be riding shotgun to Tavares next year, and could put up big numbers. This was a nice pick for the Islanders after missing on Dal Colle.

Round 3 – Ilya Sorokin (G) 78th overall – Sorokin is growing into the goaltender of the future for NY. He put on a show in the KHL this year, with 5 shutouts in 39 starts, with a GAA of 1.61 and a SV% of 0.929. In 2015-2016, he had 10 shutouts in 28 games, with a GAA of 1.06 and a SV% of 0.953. He has been a beast. What a steal in the 3rd round!

2015 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Mathew Barzal (C) 16th overall – This is comical, the Islanders traded Griffin Reinhart to the Oilers for this pick, and a 2nd round pick that they used to get another 1st round pick. So that’s two picks for a player who didn’t play a single game at the NHL level this year, 4 years after being drafted 4th overall! Meanwhile, Barzal looks to be a steal at 16th overall. He played 2 games before being sent to the WHL, where he put up 79 points in 41 games. He has incredible playmaking ability, and will make the team out of camp next year. He will immediately make an impact for the Islanders.

Round 1 – Anthony Beauvillier (LW) 28th overall – The Islanders actually gave up their own pick to the Sabres in this round in sending out Matt Moulson – which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. They received this pick from the Lightning in giving up a 2nd and 3rd rounder. Beauvillier made his NHL debut this year, suiting up for 66 games. He didn’t light the lamp much (24 points), but showed high-end skill at times. He played minutes with John Tavares on the top line, and played down in the lineup as well. This was a great experience for the youngster, a year after scoring 40 goals in 47 games in the QMJHL. He will likely see an increased role next year, and is an important part of the future in NY.

Round 3 – Mitchell Vande Sompel (D) 82nd overall – He finished up his final junior year, with 16 points in 30 games. He’s a small defenceman at 5’10”, but skates well. He will need a couple years adjusting to playing against men before he has any chance of making the big club.

I would classify the Islanders as a poor drafting team. Other than this past draft, they’ve missed on MANY of their picks. Not to mention their free agency signings, this team needs an overhaul. They’ve had plenty of chances to add quality players and seem to nearly always miss.

Sources: www.hockeydb.com ; http://www.prosportstransactions.com/hockey/DraftTrades/Years/index.htm