The Buffalo Sabres finished the 2020-21 NHL season with the worst record, giving them a one-in-six chance of getting the overall number 1 pick in the Draft Lottery next month.
Buffalo have now gone 10 straight seasons without reaching the post-season and will have a top 10 draft pick for ninth straight year. And once again the team will have the longest odds with ohio-bet to win the Stanley Cup next season. Perhaps the board can get it right when it comes to selecting this year?
Draft picks outside of the first round over the past decade have proven to be terrible for the franchise, but with a guaranteed five of the first 96 picks in the draft there has never been a better time to draft for the future.
Here’s a look at three players who could be taken with Buffalo’s first draft pick this summer:
Matthew Beniers (C)
A potential to be the overall number one pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, Matthew Beniers has the potential to become a Hall of Fame player. Still only 19 years old, the center owns the middle of the ice rink every time he steps onto it.
Beniers is a very skilful player who is relentless. You’ll see him supporting his teammates out and can quickly transition defense into attack. Comfortable making his way through the neutral zone and passing in the medium-high danger areas.
On a Michigan team currently filled with a lot of future NHL talent, Matthew Beniers is the best center. Given that the Sabres only have Jack Eichel capable of transitioning the puck, he’s an easy call to use the first draft pick one.
William Eklund (LW)
Another player who’s excellent at transitioning the puck is fellow teenager William Eklund. Quick on his skates and has a great understanding of both the game and what’s going on around him.
One of the top passers who will be eligible in this year’s draft, if there’s one blip on his game is that Eklund doesn’t have an elite shot on him. That could be taught over time though.
Undersized European wingers are usually undervalued in the draft but William Eklund is definitely going in the top 10 this year.
Jesper Wallstedt (G)
It’s rare to suggest a goaltender should be taken in the first 10 draft picks, but given that Buffalo haven’t had a competent one over the past two seasons, let alone one given a consistent time between the sticks, then Jesper Wallstedt could very well be the solution to that.
Standing at 6’3”, he’s a big goalie who also moves well and has an excellent eye for locating the puck.
Wallstedt is already close to being at NHL standard and he’s only 19 years old. Give him another season in the SHL and he’ll be ready. If we’re not able to get Beniers or Eklund then I’d be happy to take the Swede with our first pick. He looks certain to be among the top goalkeepers in the league in the coming years.