Buffalo Sabres NHL Draft Grades, Analysis

Jun 24, 2016; Buffalo, NY, USA; Alexander Nylander poses for a photo after being selected as the number eight overall draft pick by the Buffalo Sabres in the first round of the 2016 NHL Draft at the First Niagra Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 24, 2016; Buffalo, NY, USA; Alexander Nylander poses for a photo after being selected as the number eight overall draft pick by the Buffalo Sabres in the first round of the 2016 NHL Draft at the First Niagra Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports /

Buffalo Sabres NHL Draft Grade, Prospect Analysis/Review

Buffalo Sabres had a very busy NHL Draft Weekend between 10 picks and a fairly significant trade.

GM Tim Murray and company made numerous promising selections on Friday & Saturday, and topped it off with the acquisition of top four Russian defender Dmitry Kulikov from Florida in exchange for Mark Pysyk (picks involved).

With the selection of Alex Nylander 8th overall, the Buffalo Sabres may have found a way to renew an old rivalry with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Younger brother of William, the pair are set to face off against one another for the next decade and a half or so.

Buffalo may have struck gold at the top of the 2nd round after Swedish standout Rasmus Asplund slipped out of the 1st. The Sabres also made a pair of solid 3rd round draft picks with London Knights power forward Cliff Pu, and Boston College defenseman Casey Fitzgerald – although some argue Buffalo reached for the latter.

Below, we have included our mock draft prospect profile for each player selected. Directly underneath is our final mock draft ranking/team, as well as NHL Central Scouting’s Final Ranking.

Buffalo Sabres NHL Draft Grade: B+

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Buffalo Sabres NHL Draft Prospect Analysis

Alex Nylander. 8. player. 12. Stole the spotlight for Team Sweden at the WJC after older brother William’s tournament was cut short to injury. People ask the difference between the two brothers. Alex is more of a playmaker, with a tendency to play more north to south. William plays a better east to west game than younger brother Alex.<p> </p><p><em>“Explosive skater w/all-world creativity & offensive brilliance. Adjusted quickly to NA game.” [<a href=. LW/RW. Mississauga (OHL)

Our Final Mock Rankings: 7th (Arizona)
NHL Central Scouting Final Rankings: 3rd NA Skaters

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Due to a technicality in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), the Buffalo Sabres have numerous options with Alex Nylander in 2016-17.

Since he was on loan to OHL Mississauga in 2015-16 from his Swedish club, he could immediately begin in the AHL, Europe, or the OHL next season.

The right-handed shooting winger has the versatility to play both sides and should be an impact top-six forward in the near future.

<em>“The kid can absolutely fly down the wing when he gets moving and is a threat when he gains some momentum and confidence in his game. He has killer agility and a deadly first step that uses in conjunction with his active stick and vision to cut all sorts of time and space. Asplund commands the ice in transition and while in possession, making opponents back off.” [<a href=. C/LW. Farjestad (SHL). Rasmus Asplund. 33. player. 12

Our Final Mock Rankings: 26th (Washington)
NHL Central Scouting Final Rankings: 4th European Skaters

He ranked just behind Jesse Puljujarvi in the European Skater Final Rankings, and was considered by some scouts a late 1st round talent.

After sliding to the 2nd round, the Sabres got their hands on a talented 5’10 176lbs center who was a standout for Team Sweden at the World Juniors after William Nylander went down with injury.

Cliff Pu. 69. player. 12. <strong>6’2 193lbs</strong><p><em>“Potentially, Pu looks to be a power forward. One of his best assets is taking the puck straight to the net. But he also has good hands. He has a very good, accurate and fast shot, but could work on getting it off quicker and cleaner. He will not shy away from the physical battles; in fact he seems to relish it. And he’ll battle as hard defensively. He’s shown that he can create his own offense while also creating offense for his teammates. Pu is a very good skater who is adept at being both a playmaker and a goal scorer.” [<a href=. C/RW. London (OHL)

Our Final Mock Rankings: 90th (Dallas)
NHL Central Scouting Final Rankings: 75th NA Skaters

Hidden beneath a star-studded cast on the CHL’s Top Team in 2015-16 (London Knights), Pu made a strong impression on scouts throughout 2015-16. A prototypical power forward who isn’t afraid to go into the dirty areas, Cliff Pu is the perfect blend of skill and physicality. As Mitch Marner, Christian Dvorak, and potentially others graduate in 2016-17, Cliff should see his role expand with the Knights.

Boston College (H-East). Casey Fitzgerald. 86. player. 12. <strong>5’10 186lbs</strong><p>Another product of the US National Development Program, Casey went undrafted in 2015.</p><p><a href=. LHD

Our Final Mock Rankings: 157th (Winnipeg)
NHL Central Scouting Final Rankings: 156th NA Skaters

12. <strong>6’4 198lbs</strong><p>Murray is committed to attend Penn State University in 2017-18. He also represented Canada East U19 Team in 2015-16, posting two helpers in five games.</p><p><em>“Prior to starting junior hockey, Murray played at the Hill Academy in Vaughan, Ont. as a member of the U16 Prep team. In his year at the Hill Academy, he scored 40 goals and 47 assists for 87 points in 66 games.</em></p><p><em>“The Hill Academy is mainly just a prep school to get you ready for junior hockey and the college level, so I think it really helped in that way,” he said.</em></p><p><em>Murray says he likes to play a controlled style of hockey that involves smart plays that help with puck possession. He says that he also likes to play offensively and use his size in the physical side of the game when he needs to.” [<a href=. LW. Carleton Place (CCHL). Brett Murray. 99. player

Our Final Mock Rankings: 156th (Calgary)
NHL Central Scouting Final Rankings: 83rd NA Skaters

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12. <strong>6’3 189lbs</strong><p>After spending the past five years climbing the Swedish junior ranks, Nyberg is set to take his talents across the pond as he joins the University of Wisconsin in the Fall to begin his NCAA hockey career.</p>. D. Linkoping (Sweden Jr.). Philip Nyberg. 129. player

Our Final Mock Rankings: Not Ranked
NHL Central Scouting Final Rankings: Not Ranked

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Prince Albert (WHL). Vojtech Budik. 130. player. 12. <em>“He isn’t a flashy guy who will stand out but does the little things right. Good at chipping the puck out and vision. The odd time he shows what his offence could be with a rush or two. Should do it more as he has the ability. I doubt he’ll be a 1st rounder but looks like a 2nd rounder who is a future 2nd/3rd pairing d-man in the NHL.” [<a href=. LHD

Our Final Mock Rankings: 86th (Buffalo)
NHL Central Scouting Final Rankings: 90th NA Skaters

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Brandon Hagel. 159. player. 12. <strong>5’11 160lbs</strong><p>Hagel was impressive in his WHL rookie season. He still needs to put on some weight, but scouts rave about his versatility.</p>. LW. Red Deer (WHL)

Our Final Mock Rankings: 178th (Tampa Bay)
NHL Central Scouting Final Rankings: 104th NA Skaters

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189. player. 12. <strong>6’3 196lbs</strong><p><em>“Osmanski is a big defender who is really starting to blossom into one of the Steelheads top blue liners. Coach Boyd has really started to give him more ice time and his game is flourishing. Both his offensive and defensive capabilities are very raw, but he’s definitely a guy worth watching.” [<a href=. LHD. Mississauga (OHL). Austin Osmanski

Our Final Mock Rankings: 168th (Nashville)
NHL Central Scouting Final Rankings: 135th NA Skaters

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190. player. 12. <strong>5’11 158lbs</strong><p>After posting a mere 14 points in 53 games for Serebryanye Lvy St.Petersburg of the MHL in 2014-15, Glotov put scouts on notice this past season with 23 goals, 32 assists (55 points) in 42 games.</p>. C. St.Petersburg (Russia Jr.). Vasily Glotov

Our Final Mock Rankings: Not Ranked
NHL Central Scouting Final Rankings: 58th European Skater

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Remember that buzz/feeling around the Chicago Blackhawks in the mid 2000s when they built a virtual dynasty through the draft? Los Angeles Kings had that same feeling a few years later, followed by the Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning.

Two of those teams went on to win numerous Stanley Cup’s, another one made a Finals appearance in 2014-15, and a strong showing in 2015-16. The only team that failed to develop a winning product of the bunch was Colorado.

You could even begin to include Edmonton in that list, as phenom Connor McDavid was expected to help carry them from beneath the NHL’s basement.

The two teams creating buzz nowadays are the Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres.

Next: Buffalo Sabres Free Agency Preview

GM Tim Murray has done a great job drafting and developing, while at the same time making several key acquisitions. Buffalo is ahead in their rebuild plan, and should be able to compete for a playoff spot as early as next season. With the direction the franchise is headed, the Sabres have legitimate Stanley Cup aspirations in the near future.