The Sabres have been roundly (excuse the pun) criticized for their draft this year. I don’t think that it was as bad as people have made it out to be. Still it definitely wasn’t a great draft, and it saw the Sabres’ brass look as though they were caught off guard several times. We’ll start with a look at their 1st round.
The Sabres were quiet throughout the 1st round until their pick at #23 overall. Unfortunately for them not everyone was so silent. When 2 players that the Sabres expressed interest in, Nick Bjugstad (19th overall to Florida) and Riley Sheahan (21st overall to Detroit), were selected prior to their pick at 21 it looked as though they would be forced to settle for defenseman Jared Tinordi in the 23rd spot.
He was another player that the Sabres had been excited to take. Unfortunately for Buffalo’s Front Office Montreal had other ideas and traded up to the 22nd pick to select him. At this point is seemed as if the Sabres were reeling.
With their 23rd overall selection they chose 17 year Mark Pysyk of the expansion Edmonton Oil Kings. He was tabbed by most experts as a safe pick. When picking at 23 that may be what you would want, but it shouldn’t have been acceptable for the forward challenged Sabres.
He projects to be a 2-way defenseman, similar to what Chris Butler is supposed to project into. I would compare him to Henrik Tallinder if I had to compare him to a current Sabres’ defenseman.
While not an altogether terrible pick Pyksyk doesn’t stand out either. He was the best player on a terrible team which should prove his value. He went 17-17-24 in 48 games logging over 20 minutes of ice time in his 2nd season. As a younger player he will have plenty of time to develop especially with the crowded defensive pipeline.
That pipeline is exactly the issue. The defensive and goaltending part of the cupboard are stacked it is a lack of blue chip offensive prospects that plagues the Buffalo system. With big offensive weapons like Quinten Howden, Emerson Etem and Brock Nelson the Sabres missed out on some offensive weapons. It seemed to this observer that the Sabres were flustered by Detroit’s pick and Montreal’s trade and jumped at the highest player on their board, not drafting a good player in an area of need. This could prove to be a mistake later on down the line.