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+
Buffalo Sabres NHL Draft Prospect Analysis
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.
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.
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.
Our Final Mock Rankings: 157th (Winnipeg)
NHL Central Scouting Final Rankings: 156th NA Skaters
Our Final Mock Rankings: 156th (Calgary)
NHL Central Scouting Final Rankings: 83rd NA Skaters
Our Final Mock Rankings: Not Ranked
NHL Central Scouting Final Rankings: Not Ranked
Our Final Mock Rankings: 86th (Buffalo)
NHL Central Scouting Final Rankings: 90th NA Skaters
Our Final Mock Rankings: 178th (Tampa Bay)
NHL Central Scouting Final Rankings: 104th NA Skaters
Our Final Mock Rankings: 168th (Nashville)
NHL Central Scouting Final Rankings: 135th NA Skaters
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.
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.