While the first pick for the Sabres in this year’s draft is obvious to everyone, what GM Jason Botterill does after that is a mystery to those on the outside.
Although they will go with a franchise-altering talent on the blue line with the first pick, you can never have enough defensmen in hockey. But scoring and goaltending are also needs, and Buffalo could go in any direction with the pick that will kick off day 2 of the Draft.
I look at five potential prospects that could be taken with pick No. #32. This is assuming that the Sabres do not end up trading the pick.
Ryan McLeod- C/LW (Mississauga, OHL): Described by Sportsnet’s Sam Cosentino as “one of the most fascinating players in this draft class,” the 6’2″ forward had a breakout season with the Mississauga Steelheads of the Ontario Hockey League.
Ryan McLeod makes it 2-1 Steelheads with a highlight reel goal! pic.twitter.com/DhYd4u3ZNc
— Darius (@Domingues_19) March 27, 2018
After his two previous seasons resulted in 16 goals and 62 points, this year saw a drastic improvement, scoring 26 goals and earning 70 points in 68 games played. SportingNews analyst Steve Kournianos described McLeod as a “big-bodied power forward with speed and playmaking abilities who was one of the top OHL scorers among first-year draft eligibles.”
Looking at their needs, he could fit in the Sabres organization with both his scoring and physicality, which they have lacked the last few years.
Jared McIsaac- LHD (Halifax, QMJHL): Despite drafting Dahlin, using the second pick on another d-man would also be effective, especially one who Peter Harling of DobberProspects calls “a big and strong two-way defensman.”
— Steven Ellis (@StevenEllisNHL) April 20, 2018
During this past season, he scored nine goals for a total of 47 points for the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads, a slight uptick from the 32 points he earned the previous year.
McIsaac also was a member of Team Canada’s U18 during this year’s World Junior Championships, and scored a goal and earned two assists during five games played in the tournament. He can bring a defensive presence, and with a proper transition, could be an effective two-way player in the league for years.
Liam Foudy- C (London, OHL): During his last two seasons, both in the OHL and international play, the six foot center has increased his numbers at all levels.
#2018NHLDraft prospect Liam Foudy (18) w/ 1G 1A last night. Extra long step allows him to create space before deking our goalie. Carries the puck up, turns to protect puck along the boards and waits for open man to pass. #OHL pic.twitter.com/MZU2J5RkF3
— Kathryn Jean (@msconduct) February 17, 2018
As a member of the London Knights, he elevated his points from the previous year, scoring 24 goals for a total of 40 points this past season, a significant improvement from the 15 points he earned during the 2016-17 season.
During the World Junior Championships and last year’s World Championships, he played a role for Team Canada’s U18 and U17 teams. During the tournament held in Buffalo, he scored two goals and two assists, and earned three points in the World Championships.
For the Sabres, he can provide depth at center and has potential to further develop offensively.
Jacob Olofsson- C (Timra, SWE-2): Called “a safe pick who possesses size at the centre position” by Sportsnet’s Sam Consentinio, Olofsson spent this past year in the Allsvenskan league.
— Robert Söderlind (@HockeyWebCast) April 20, 2017
In his first full season, he scored 10 goals and earned 21 points in 43 games played, which led to Kournianos to mention that he “he’s big, quick and strong on the puck, plus he can be counted on to match up against top players.”
Slated to rejoin Timra next season, he looks to improve off a stellar rookie year and, with the right development going forward, can contribute and is why he’s being considered as a late-1st and early-2nd rounder in this draft.
Rasmus Sandin- LHD (Sault Ste., OHL): Another Rasmus? Yep!
After completing his first season in the OHL, Sandin has been described by Cam Robinson of DobberProspects as a “transition defender who offers strong vision and crisp passes. A smart player who knows when to pinch and can read the play happening at both ends of the rink.”
— NHL Prospects Watcher (@Prospects_Watch) May 13, 2018
As a member of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, he scored 12 goals and earned 45 points in 51 games played this past season. He was called a player who “plays big minutes and consistently makes good decisions with the puck” by Peter Harling of DobberProspects.
Regarding the Sabres, Sandin would be a solid pick early in the second round, especially with the necessary needs in all aspects, especially on defense through all levels of the organization.
This is a pick in which the Sabres could go in the best direction they see fit, which is not the case with their first pick, which has been projected to be Dahlin for months. This pick will be one of many that could potentially set Buffalo up years into the future.