0Posted by Scott Michalak on June 27, 2014 at 8:19 am
Without wasting your time on a wordy lede, here’s 3 ways the Sabres can make a big step forward in their quest for a Stanley Cup today.
This has been my dream scenario for the draft.
Reinhart has the highest IQ of this draft, along with arguably the best passing abilities (as Kevin Devine said, plausibly the best passer to come into the draft in the last 10-15 years). Add a complimentary player in Nikolaj Ehlers, widely considered as one of the top finishers in the CHL, and you’ve got a recipe for lots of goals.
Of course we need goals, but it goes deeper than that.
For CHL players, Reinhart is at the top of his prospect pool for time on ice while playing shorthanded (66.6%). He’s fourth in power play time (77.3%).
Meanwhile, Ehlers has been knocked around in articles and posts stating that his stats may be inflated playing alongside Jonathan Drouin – but a great majority of Ehlers’ even strength numbers (about 70%) came with Drouin on the bench. His goals for % at even strength tops the CHL class (76.7%), and he is ranked quite high in plenty of other offensive categories (hit the link and do some sorting by category, you might be surprised).
Finding a way to get back into the top 10 (or maybe even a bit higher than that) would be very hard – but not impossible. A Reinhart-Ehlers combination could be the best 1-2 value in this year’s draft.
2. Give me a Sam (or Leon), and Barbashev
It takes a number of years for prospects to make it to the NHL. With all the accumulating youth, getting more than one first rounder this year makes an awful lot of sense in making the team better sooner.
I’d be satisfied with either Sam at #2 (or Leon Draisaitl – I trust Murray in his talent evaluation), but I’d be happy if they found a way back in to get that extra guy.
For me, Barbashev is that guy. His motor is relentless (not so much as Girgensons, but about as close as you get in this draft class), he’s an all-zones and all-situations guy, and he can score. Again, I trust Murray to make the right pick, so take my preference as simply that. There are plenty of names that should be available in the mid-first (McCann, Fiala, Fabbri, Larkin, Tuch – and more) that we’d all be pretty thrilled with coming out of today.
Get me two guys. Make me happy.
We need goals. We need excitement. We need to find the edge of our seats again.
Once touted as a talent on par with Connor McDavid, Ho-Sang has seen his stock fall almost as dramatically as he plays the game. His crimes? Speaking his mind. Being too honest. Oversharing his opinions.
I’d like to extend a hearty “thanks” to Joshua for compiling this criminal record, because it might help him slide to the Sabres in the second round (or of course, they could trade up for him if they are that interested). Plausibly the most talented player in this draft – an absolute wizard with the puck – Ho-Sang is a player that could be the steal of the draft, and would make for some ridiculously entertaining articles from the local rag and for some really spicy hot sports takes on the local radio waves.
Again, we need goals – but we also need to find the edge of our seats again at the FNC. This guy could challenge for the headline marquee for both in Buffalo.
Tonite is going to be a blast. A rebuild is a tough thing to endure, but this is one of the best parts. It’s time to start dreaming.
Want a Stanley Cup? You’ll hear a name or two called today that could very well be a huge part of it. Enjoy the draft, Sabres fans.
0Posted by Scott Michalak on June 23, 2012 at 1:25 pm
“Werk:” Internet slang for “expression of approval, praise.”
So now you know.
Kudos to all the NHL staffers and NHL bloggers out there that made the draft a fun couple of days.
Day 1 saw the extraordinary event wherein Darcy Regier selected the Sabres’ likely #1 and #2 centers for the next ten years in Mikhail Grigorenko and Zemgus Girgensons. Not to be overlooked, day 2 of the NHL Draft produced what could turn out to be a solid crop of prospects for the Buffalo Sabres.
Here is a quick run down of the boys selected by the Blue and Gold in rounds 2-7 (this post includes salient information and also a hearty spoonful of stupid witticisms. Proceed, but remember, Draftday is Funday – and we like to keep it light here on BSN for all the fidgety prospects out there that just got selected):
After that initial run on centers, Regier selected a solid defenseman:
McCabe projects as a solid two-way blueliner at the NHL level. His ceiling is that of a second pairing blue liner. McCabe has the physical tools and skills to get special teams time as both a PKer, and as a defenceman on the second unit of a PP. We think his potential is to end up as a similar player to Carl Gunnarson of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“I think I’m a good strong two-way player, and I’m pretty good defensively,” Kea said before the draft. “And I think if people watch me they can see that.”
And from the scouts:
“I think somebody’s going to give him a shot, because 6-foot-4, 211, good skating forwards don’t grow on trees,” scout Ryan Yessie of Hockey Prospect said. “You don’t get guys like that that come around too often.”
Of course he didn’t “grow from trees.” He IS A TREE. And what is going to fall from this tree if he makes the NHL? Gloves, baby. Gloves.
*Disclaimer: I am totally against fighting in the NHL. That being said, his “scorecard” merits his toughness and his capacity as a guy who, well, won’t let teams run his goaltender.
After this selection, I finally had this epiphany:
Did somebody just say “The Ray/May/Sweeney line?” Slow skating, but vicious in the pixellated blood-spilling department. Add in Gord Donnelly and Ken Sutton on D – now that was a drinkin’ man’s group of five. Good times.
So there was that fun. Nothing like a College/Genny Cream flashback to spice up the Twitter.
The Sabres did not have a selection here, having lost it to the Islanders in the trade that brought us the negotiating rights to Christian Ehrhoff. The Isles took Loic Leduc, and that there is likely the last time you’ll read his name. We win. Moving on.
Another epiphany (concerning the Sabres’ run on centers):
Maybe just a little surprise for the experts at “Hockey’s Future.” Seriously now, 0.0? What the what? Get some interns and fill in the blanks for draft day.
Per the above link, Nelson was ranked 73rd in the draft, and the Sabres snapped him up with the 133rd pick. We win, again. Moving on.
Linus Ullmark (G) 6’3″, 198 lbs.
Bill Hoppe summed up Ullmark for all the casual fans out there on Twitter, while we all scrambled for some info on this kid.
For all the casual Internet users out there, using Google Chrome, right click on the page and select “translate to English.” The link I provided Bill was of no real statistical value, but was a good read on his demeanor.
- Nervous, not at all, this feels just inspiring, says 18-year-old goalkeeper Linus Ullmark without trembling in her voice.
MoDo is normally the ordinary second in the bag, Anton Forsberg, is the national team and plays the JVM during the Christmas and New Year holidays.Therefore they picked up Linus Ullmark in place and he really likes what’s up:
- Of course it’s fun to train and now play with the first team. They’re the guys you had as their idols while growing up, says Linus.
We meet Linus Ullmark in Fjällräven Center for MoDo last training session before the first team short julvilan. He laughs loudly and frequently, and it shows him that he really enjoys the position.
Again, not much of value statistically there, but you get some insight there that stats can’t provide. In any event, he’ll be a part of the complicated puzzle that will be the post-apocalyptic (or glorious, depending on which side of the fence you are yelling from) Post Ryan Miller Era.
Also, his penchant for “laughing loudly and frequently” brings back memories of a certain former Sabres netminder that we all know and love…
I know. There will never be another Marty Biron. Still, we might get enlightened on a lot of Swedish humor if Ullmark makes it in between the pipes at the FNC. Far more importantly, “The Goalie Guild” certainly thinks highly of him:
And that is good enough for me. The GG is very deeply immersed in all things goaltending. Check the site out sometime – it’ll be well worth your time.
The 7th round brought Buffalo 2 picks, which made for a nice “two picks in the 1st” “two picks in the 7th” bookend set. Here’s what they did with them:
Brady Austin (D) 6’4″, 230 lbs
Brady paused the trend of “Take all of the Big Centers” from the Sabres’ draft table. He hails from Bobcaygeon, so Tragically Hip fans will be clamoring for this kid and his namesake soundtrack to make the big leagues, and soon (get ready, #SabreTunes).
A fact that I was quick to point out.
…and one that Vogl was quick to steal.
To set the record straight: I did tweet this glorious bit of intensely important Hip-related info a good 30-45 seconds before Vogl got his off. But then, he included a link to the song, so I’ll call a tie here. Besides, we’re all just a series of ones and zeros on this crazy Internet thing ( #ZenPower).
I think that was just another epiphany.
Anyway, Austin had spent some time playing forward for the Erie Otters. Save that in your trivia bank, you just might thank me some day. Next, the Sabres selected –
Judd Peterson (C), 6′,190 lbs.
In perhaps the most amazing stat of the day, “Die by the Blade” reported this:
He scored 47 goals on just 52 shots – that’s a 92.2% shooting percentage!
Let’s hope he was right in his self-assessment, as this pick may have been a real steal.
The day thusly ended, I’ll leave you with my finest epiphany of the day. I know it’s a good one, because, as we all know, 30+ retweets on Twitter transforms any moronic thought into absolute fact. Enjoy:
2Posted by Scott Michalak on May 16, 2012 at 8:30 am
Hit the 4:10 mark.
This is how I’ve been feeling lately when trying to prognosticate what the Sabres will do this offseason, particularly at the draft, and even as far as to how good they will be next season. Sure, this scene is a bit dramatic and no one is actually shooting at me, but it’s a damn good quote and I love that movie (Gettysburg). And it features sabres (or at least sabers).
Predicting an offseason is always a best guess scenario, but this one really has me blinded. The Sabres spent like kings in the past offseason, making moves which were supposed to build on the previous season’s ill-fated first round playoff exit. Unfortunately, those front office maneuvers were the better days of our 2011-12 season. This group fell flat on it’s rear end (or was knocked to it by Lucic, rather), and heroically got up just in time to make a herculean charge at missing the playoffs.
It was a wasted season. Zero chance at Lord Stanley. A real WTFer.
Add in a couple other front office moves by Regier (Gaustad for a 1st, Butler for a 2nd) and right now we’re looking at 2 1st round picks and 2 second round picks in the upcoming draft. There are many, many possible scenarios that could result from this cache of picks.
And I have no idea what the hell this WTF team is going to do to get a shot at Lord Stanley next season. Let’s examine (some) of the possibilities (DISCLAIMER – prepare for some blathering. I get this way when I’m really confused. Plus I’m highly caffeinated and still pretty pissed off about how this season went down, but well, there I go already with the blathering):
Trade Derek Roy: this is the perennial favorite, so we’ll get it out of the way, right away. We don’t like him here, and so we tend to, as fans, undervalue him sometimes. However, GM’s don’t. He’s a fine 2nd line center in this league. He’s certainly movable, and can fetch a good commodity – be that a pick, prospect, player, or him as part of a package for a 1st line player. If I’m playing Bucky Gleason playing GM For a Day, I’m getting Roy out of town. It will at least make the readers happy.
The picks: this is where I am stymied the most. Keeping all of their first four picks would garner fine players, but would not garner any players ready to lace up for the NHL this season. Then again, I’m not very keen on trading up to the top to land, say, Yakupov. For me, the dreaded “Russian factor” is a scary factor indeed. I would hate for our team to spend these picks to land a guy who might bolt like Radulov to the KHL, only to return for a couple games to keep his NHL contract status legit, and then show up drunk and useless for a playoff game. Let’s face it: the golden hordes of the KHL Motherland are greatly more alluring to Russian prospects than the City of Good Neighbors, and our renowned lack of “windowless hotels.” Buffalo’s a great place, folks, and you don’t have to convince me – but you do have to do things like sending Pegula and his posse to Calgary to convince Robyn Regehr to come here.
What to do with all these picks: if we do stand pat with our picks, there are a few guys that I really do like (though we won’t be seeing them next season). Guys like Zemgus Girgensons and Radek Faksa have the size and skill to be fine picks for the #12 overall spot, but again, they’re not going to be #1 centers. Tom Wilson or Stefan Matteau would be great at pick #21, but once more, they also need pro-seasoning in the AHL before joining the big league. I’d be thrilled to land Girgensons, folks, but the Sabres must look at all options to improve for the immediate future of 2012-13.
That #1 center dilemma: everyone is pleased with the acquisition of Hodgson (another 2011-12 front office highlight reel move) and the stellar emergence of Ennis at center. However, it has been clear that the Sabres have been trying to fill that #1 void every season since Regier took the GM job in ’97 and said goodbye to Pat LaFontaine. (Drury and Briere were nice, but alas, we all know what happened with those two in the Golisano era.) The trick now is to find a way to get a guy like Brad Richards instead of Ville Leino (and the Sabres’ on-ice performance this season is going to make this #1 job a tough sell).
Stay the core: except for Roy, (and we’ll throw in the stumbling Drew Stafford) the Sabres really do need to hang onto their core veterans. Pominville is as steady and consistent as NHL captains get on the ice and on the scoresheet. Ryan Miller shows up for huge games (not involving Sidney Crosby). Thomas Vanek is an elite sniper – in fact, ESPN found him to statistically be the “NHL’s Best Shooter.” Sure, you can trade him for another sniper, but that doesn’t solve a darn thing. On defense, we discussed a long ways back how a strong veteran defense is key to winning that Cup. We have that now, plus Mark Pysyk is triumphantly on his way to teach the old dogs some new tricks. It’s odd how close the Sabres are to being a true contender. They have almost all the key components: the tested goaltender, the scoring depth (on the wings mostly, when healthy), and a deep and veteran defense. Are they just a #1 center away from the Big Dance? Plausibly.
Joel Armia: this one just won’t stop nagging me. The Sabres are going to trade this kid. Good as he is, he doesn’t really fill a need as a lightweight sniper on the wing, and was likely never the Sabres’ true draft target in 2011. Where his value is for Buffalo is as trade fodder. Load up the cannon Darcy, and fire away. That being said, if the Sabres stick with him, don’t be mad if he doesn’t show up for training camp since he has to take care of his mandatory Finnish military service this summer.
Defensive glut: this is a defense heavy draft, and the Sabres are already very deep on defense and defensive prospects. At pick #12, they’ll have much better odds at landing a stud defenseman than a forward. Which again… leads us back to the whole making trades to move up scenario, which as you now know, I am not all that fond of.
Free agency: in an UFA centerman class pretty much headlined by Jochen Hecht and Paul Gaustad, the answer to the #1 center dilemma will not be found here. Instead, expect the Sabres to happily shed the contracts of Brad Boyes, Hecht and Gaustad.
Goose: now unfathomably worth a first round draft pick, unless Gaustad takes a big hometown discount to return, then he won’t return. Sadly, our biggest memory of Goose will be his non-reaction to Lucic – a terrible legacy for a great team player. Goose, I love you, but I think this is goodbye. Expect the Sabres to make a run for a much-cheaper UFA faceoff dot specialist such as Zenon Konopka. Or, perhaps expect the Sabres to trade for a guy like RFA Mason Raymond, who plays the left wing, but was %100 on faceoffs last season – and I’m sure Lindy Ruff will never tire of cramming all of his wingers into the center position.
Regier and Ruff: are their heads on the line this season? Maddeningly for many, not likely. It would take a train wreck to convince Pegula to let these guys go, and the Sabres are currently just good enough to never really have a complete train wreck. Our proof: with GM talent like Rick Dudley out there and available, Buffalo stuck with their guy. Duds is up in Montreal now, assisting the GM process. He is going to make our divisional life miserable in the coming years. Still, I’m not an anti-Regier or anti-Ruff guy. Despite a few misfires, Regier has made some really fine trade acquisitions and has landed some real gems in the draft. As for Ruff, well, if he is good enough to help coach Team Canada in the Olympics, then he’s good enough for my team.
RJ is up for another year of play-by-play, thank the hockey gods. He is the one Sabre that I never, ever want to see go.
That wraps up our Buffalo Sabres “Lucky #11″ style bullet list of predicaments. Again, I can’t predict what the Sabres will do with their lot of options this time around. But, things are gonna’ go down. And like the old street smarts saying goes, “when things go down, there ain’t no comin’ back.”
Which is good.
Because I don’t want to come back to another lost season.
Note: apologies for any spelling errors up in there. The caffeine has worn off, and so has my willingness to spell-check. Or is it spellcheck? Whatever. We’ll just call it “F7.”
0Posted by Scott Michalak on June 27, 2011 at 8:40 am
“Oh! Someone call a cop! This guy just robbed eeEEEeeverybody!”
When Darcy Regier plucked Colin Jacobs in the 4th round, I could hear Rick Jeanneret screaming that in the back of my head.
Just like Armia and Catenacci before him, Jacobs went through a profound draft day slide. It was another no-brainer pick for Darcy and his staff. To put it into perspective: “The Hockey News” had Jacobs as their 45th overall best prospect. The venerable International Scouting Services ranked him 26th overall. The Sabres picked him with the 107th selection.
Jacobs played two games for the T-Birds closing out the 2008-09 season then moved to the Seattle area for ’09-10. Playing on a young team, he collected 13 goals and 26 points in 72 games. Short of this season’s midpoint, he already has more goals and points (15 and 28). He notched his first WHL hat trick a few weeks ago, and a backhanded goal that he scored while facing away from the net is a Youtube favorite.
T-Birds coach Rob Sumner said he emphasized putting pucks on the net however possible that night.
“I guess that was a little bit of a reward for following the game plan closely,” Sumner said. “He’s had more discipline in his game this year. He’s taken a huge step in understanding the defensive aspect of the game. I think he’s going to be a physical, aggressive player, but I think there’s a time and place for that.”
Draft prognosticators tab him as a second-round pick in next summer’s NHL draft with an outside chance of going in the first round.
The third member of the Draft Day Heist.
As for the rest of his game, well, you can find all the information you need and more by heading on over to SabresProspects.com. Perhaps the best part of Kevin Baker’s write-up there is actually where he has him placed on the Prospect Depth Chart – 3rd overall at the center position, behind only Dan Catenacci and Kevin Sundher.
At 6-2 and 204 pounds, Jacobs is that big, powerful, talented center that Sabres fans were hoping for in the 1st round.
They just had to wait an extra day, and a few more rounds.
That is the twitter account of the Sabres 2nd 3rd round selection, (honestly, it’s amazing this guy wasn’t taken in the 2nd), an account which surfaced in the Sabres’ Twit-o-verse pretty quickly after his name was called at the draft. And just as quickly, I sent him my first fan tweet:
His speed is no joke – Catenacci won the Fastest Skater Competition at the 2011 Top Prospects game with an individual best lap time of 14.017 seconds. To put that into perspective, the NY Islander’s speed-demon, Michael Grabner, won the NHL’s Skills Contest this season by posting a time of 14.2.
Still photography simply doesn't do him justice. Click on the photo to see what I mean - it's much better when slightly agitated.