It’s been another dreadful season from the Buffalo Sabres so far and there are still a couple of months to go.
Last month the Sabres set an NHL record for longest losing streak in the shootout era, with a 0-15-3 record that finally ended on 31 March with an overtime win over the Philadelphia Flyers.
Since then, interim head coach Don Granato has guided the New York side to seven wins from the last 14.
The latest lineups have seen a number of young players in the squad as the Sabres are concentrating on building for the future, at least prior to finding a permanent replacement for Ralph Krueger.
Recent high draft picks Dylan Cozens, Rasmus Dahlin and Casey Mittelstadt are all getting minutes under their belt. Whilst the second overall pick from the 2016 draft, Jack Eichel, is the franchise captain. Whilst this is certainly not going to be Buffalo’s year, 2022 could finally see the Sabres end their playoff drought. And whilst the odds aren’t in their favour according to online sports betting Illinois, the improvements of the team over the past month suggest they are finally making a turn for the positive.
Buffalo is currently in position for the number 1 overall pick for the next draft and here’s a look at who they could take in the first round later this year:
University of Michigan’s Matthew Beniers has been nothing short of amazing this season. So much so many feel he will be the overall number one pick this off-season.
Whilst Owen Power, Luke Hughes and Brandt Clarke are also strong contenders for this spot don’t be surprised to see the Center overtake them.
Beniers is going to improve whatever team signs him in the draft this year. He’s a two-way threat in every season – an attacker who is both smart and effective defending too. A very knowledgeable player on the ice, he is a great playmaker in the final third whatever position he plays.
The 18-year-old is a complete package for his age and is only going to get better with age. He’s not afraid to give or take contact but will need to get stronger to rise to the elite level. Controlling the puck and shooting are things he already excels at.
A potential franchise cornerstone for the next decade or so because he could consistently put up 70+ points a season and doesn’t have any obvious flaws at this stage.
The youngest brother in the talented Hughes family is expected to go high in the 2021 NHL Draft. Luke Hughes has drastically improved as the season has gone on and is now expected to be one of the top defenseman taken in the draft.
Hughes is mobile and has good awareness of attacking situations. His great speed will benefit whichever team he ends up at.
The Michigan Wolverines’ star is comfortable with the puck under his stick and is very crisp in his passing game, which includes a game-changing breakout pass on the counter-attack.
Buffalo hasn’t drafted too many defenders in the first round in recent years but Luke Hughes could buck that trend this year.