Still shaking from this weekend and not just the unreal playoffs we have seen so far. For the first time since 1987 the Buffalo Sabres will select number 1 in the NHL Entry Draft. We have definitely come along way since Pierre Turgeon and I can't say enough a bout the disappointment we have seen these past few years. My plan is to take a look back at the disappointing drafts briefly and what we have to look forward too.
2011- Joel Armia- Known for his silky hands but never got a chance in Buffalo and ultimately shipped off to Winnipeg where he has become a normal face in the line up. I never thought he had the physical prowess to make it in the show.
2012- This was a great time because we had the two first round picks. Definitely an interesting first round but we managed to walk away with Mikhail Grigorenko and Zemgus Girgensons. I don't want to talk more about this. It’s just great to know we didn't pass up on players like Tomas Hertl, Oli Maatta, Andrei Vasilevskiy and many others. Really good to know.
2013- Back to back years with two 1st round picks and this one was definitely less disappointing. Rasmus Ristolainen has made himself a regular on the team while Nikita Zadorov was shipped out in the Ryan O’Reilly deal. I was fine with the move at the time but Zadorov has really carved out his niche in Colorado.
2014- This is when things started to get interesting. Despite having the best odds of getting the 1st overall pick we missed out in the lottery and landed the number 2 spot (this becomes a theme). All I can say is at least we didn't pick Sam Bennett, and Sam Reinhart played very well last year while Eichel was injured. His future is still hopeful.
2015- There was nothing crazier than the McEichel draft. Yet again we are shafted out of the 1st overall pick leaving it to Edmonton (of course). We picked Jack Eichel and he is a franchise player. Watching what Connor has done in Edmonton still keeps this wound fresh though. Also don't sleep on the fact we traded out 21st overall pick to Ottawa for Robin Lehner. Thanks Murray.
2016- Alex Nylander….. Still yet to make his mark on the professional level. Looked invisible in Rochester this year even though he was surrounded by a quality team. Still hopeful he can turn out like his brother and hopefully sooner rather than later.
2017- Back to back 8th overall picks and this one seems much better for our future. Despite looking like a 12 year old, Casey Mittelstadt crushed the NCAA and the World Junior Tournament. Great size, puck protecting and solid hands. Played the last few games for Buffalo and looked awesome. Key piece in our growth no question about it.
The past few years there have been these battles in the top of the draft and there has been some amazing talent. For the first time in a while there is one player that separated himself from the pack. Rasmus Dahlin the 6’2 smooth skating defenseman is the undisputed number 1 overall pick in the draft this year. If you watch him play then you understand. Here are some of the comparisons that have been said about Dahlin.
"This kid is mature far beyond his years. It's amazing," Weber said. "He's a better skater than [Erik] Karlsson, he's got a shot like Victor Hedman, he kind of moves like Pavel Datsyuk in the corners. He can slip checks and pull pucks away. The thing that impressed me the most is his heads-up hockey. Now that I'm coaching kids, I notice even more. You don't see kids that age skating all the time with their heads up, looking at the play. (Mike Weber)
I've never seen a player like him in that you give him a couple of chances and shifts at a higher level and he can easily adapt, Tomas Montén (Sweden U20 HC) 2017
Franchise D-man, proven he can meet the challenge of playing above his age level., ISS Hockey 2017
He defends like Lidström, skates like Karlsson, Ray Ferraro (TSN) 2017
We are going to get a franchise changing defenseman, something that we have been looking for for quite some time now. All those years of bad picks and getting screwed out of the top pick and it looks like the tide could finally be turning. Don't get me wrong, there is still a long road to go. The Sabres are the first team in NHL history to finish in 31st place so they have a lot of work to do. This is a very exciting time though.