The Sabres are now in 26th place.
Welcome to the bottom 5, Buffalo fans! The hearts of the players on this squad have bled dry this season, draining any hopes for this team to make the playoffs. Their consecutive road loss streak continues to grow at a numbing pace, as the team stumbles through one undisciplined trainwreck after another.
People are calling for the heads of players, coaches, and the GM. On the Twitter, they’re chirping Pegula’s daughters and Ryan Miller’s wife.
If there is anything positive about this slow motion trainwreck, it’s that the Sabres are now in contention for the 1st overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Location: Pittsburgh – a place Pegula and Ted Black are very well acquainted with, and a place where high draft picks have historically proven priceless.
Sure, sure – the season is far from over, but here’s a quick refresher on how the NHL’s draft lottery works:
At the conclusion of the regular season, the 14 NHL teams not qualifying for the playoffs are entered in a weighted lottery to determine the initial draft picks in the first round, seeded according to regular season standing. The 30th-place team has a 25% chance of winning the lottery, with odds diminishing to a 0.5% chance for the 17th-place team. A single selection from the lottery pool is made, with the winning team improving its draft position by up to four places, and no team dropping more than one place. Therefore, only the 26th through 30th place teams are eligible to receive the first overall draft pick. Consequently, the 30th place team’s chance of retaining the first overall pick improves to 48.2%. The order in the remaining rounds is unaffected by the lottery and is based on regular season standings.
The Sabres, of course, have picked 1st overall twice in their history – Perreault in their inaugural season, and “Sneaky Pete” Turgeon in 1987. Not too shabby.
For all the calls to fire and trade everyone in the organization, what this team has really needed for years is a game changer. Trading for Ryan Getzlaf would be an answer to that dilemma, but it’s unfathomable to think that the Anaheim Ducks would get rid of such an elite talent. They aren’t easy to come by, save through the draft.
And so by their hideous losing ways, the Sabres are giving fans that one hope – the chance to finally snap up a bonafide game changer.
RW, Nail Yakupov, 5-11, 183 lbs.
Despite most rankings listing the dynamic Russian winger as the number one prospect for the upcoming 2012 NHL Draft, I think his performance at the recent 2012 IIHF World Juniors could hurt his status a little. Not that 9 assists in 7 games is anything to shake your head at, but Yakupov is more known for his ability to be a goal scoring game changer night in and night out, not an assist man. And, those totals were helped by the fact the speedy winger was playing on Russia’s top line. Still, his resemblance to Pavel Bure is uncanny, and he can get fans out of the seats when the puck is on his stick as his plethora of offensive weaponary is off the charts. There is no doubt he is a Top 3 pick, but first overall is no guarantee.
C, Mikhail Grigorenko, 6-2, 185 lbs.
I have had the opportunity to watch Grigorenko play live numerous times over the past two seasons, and have been impressed each and every time by his play. The lanky Remparts centre has had a tremendous season in the QMJHL thus far, and has quickly adapted to the North American game. He is a mixture of Joe Thornton and Evgeni Malkin, as he has excellent vison and hockey sense, a nice shot, and is a great skater all wrapped into a 6-foot-2, 185-pound body. Despite his defensive shortcomings, to me Grigorenko has the makings of a big, number one centre that NHL teams crave, and I don’t see a team looking to rebuild passing on him unless they’re already loaded down the middle.
By far, those are two most exciting paragraphs in this post.
Enjoy the games we have left this season. Enjoy each moment with Lindy Ruff and Darcy Regier. Enjoy watching your favorite players skate every shift. Enjoy listening to RJ. There’s no guarantee any of these guys will be with us next year. Oh, and please, please, leave Pegula’s daughters and Ryan Miller’s wife out of it all.
In any event, we’re assured of one thing – change is on the way.
Hopefully, some of it will be big change, and will it come in the draft.