Sabres Draft Preview
The Real Fake Real Fake Draft Mock
(Choices are made with the scenario the Sabres don’t trade any of their picks).
1.12 – Zemgus Girgensons – Center / Dubuque Fighting Saints – USHL / 6.2 – 200
49-24-31-55 +17 69
With the expectation that Radek Faksa will be taken prior to the 12th selection, perhaps by the Capitals at 11, the Sabres still need to find a sizable center to add to the system. Girgensons falls in place as a draftee who should be taken in the 12-17 range. Strong, good skater, reads the ice very well with good offensive abilities and a willingness to fight through traffic make Zemgus an attractive addition to the Sabres. Saw more of his film and he showed a very good work ethic and strong forechecking, and is a pretty good skater, with a good motor for a big player. He’s a “team first” player with a good attitude, no pretensions. Girgensons is headed to the University of Vermont in the fall… a program doing its best to rebound from a poor 2011-12 campaign.
1.21 – Brendan Gaunce – Center / Belleville Bulls – OHL / 6.2 – 215
68-28-40-68 +4 68
No reason to stop taking big centers, especially if Gaunce slides down to 21, which could very well happen. Once viewed in Buffalo’s range at 12, Gaunce has been supplanted by some late 1st round draftees months ago and finds himself ranked in the 20s these days. Brendan is a big, tough resilient kid who has enough stamina like the Energizer Bunny and possesses strong leadership qualities. Gaunce is a reliable player at both ends of the ice who would provide the Sabres not only more depth at center, but a sizable pivot who can man a 3rd line center spot and play in most any situation. His skating needs improvement, but the overall package is too tempting to pass up at 21, especially when it was thought a number of months ago he could be taken at 12. On a team of smurfs (especially at center), Gaunce and Girgensons are important additions.
2.42 – Lukas Sutter – Center / Saskatoon Blades – WHL / 6.0 – 210
70-28-31-59 +15 165
Taking yet another big center, the Sabres get a scrappy Sutter at 42. Lukas bloomed this past season as his offensive numbers jumped pretty dramatically. He plays the game with the kind of work ethic / leadership his father and uncles exhibited back in the 1980s. Another two-way center, with a bit less skill than Girgensons or Gaunce, Sutter will make that up in spades with tenacity, strong checking and a willingness to drop the gloves, another Sutter family hallmark. If anything, the drafting of Sutter (and Gaunce) enables Buffalo to fill out their bottom two lines with high quality, big forwards who a team can rely on. These are the kinds of depth guys that many Stanley Cup winners of recent memory have employed.
2.44 – Brian Hart – Right Wing / Exeter Academy – New Hampshire Prep / 6.2 – 215
27-29-27-56 n/a n/a
A big goal scorer with size, Brian Hart has been equally adept at scoring proficiency in both soccer and hockey. He was named the Player of the Year for New Hampshire high schools when it came to soccer, but Hart is pursuing a hockey career, and will head to Harvard in the fall. Is a project overall, but can’t deny the kid’s athleticism. Having seen interviews of him, he’s a smart kid and well-grounded. Hart projects to be drafted in the 50s, but I would like to see the Sabres add some more size and scoring at forward, at wing this time.
3.73 – Brandon Whitney – Goaltender / Victoriaville Tigres – QMJHL / 6.5 – 190
36-22-4-4 2.74 / .896 / 2
Brandon Whitney is a large goalie, in the mold of recent Buffalo draftees Connor Knapp and Nathan Lieuwen. Whitney was a rookie in the Q in 2011-12, and compiled a solid won-loss record. He is the 2nd ranked N.A. goalie behind Malcolm Subban, yet is projected for a 2nd or 3rd round selection. Whitney is a quick reaction goalie for a person his size. This is a selection based more on need, as Buffalo no longer has a goaltender in its system that is in the junior ranks.
5.133 – Teddy Blueger – Center / Shattuck St. Mary’s H.S. – Minnesota / 6.0 – 170
43-22-54-76 n/a 50
Yet another center to add to the team’s system, Blueger is a smaller sized, offensively geared pivot. He racked up 54 assists and 76 points in 43 regular season games for Shattuck St. Mary’s… the same high school Drew Stafford and many other NHL players once attended. Blueger is a quick player that gets a good read of the ice, and likes to dish the puck off, as attests to his 54 helpers. He is headed off to Justin Jokinen’s old stomping grounds at Minnesota State – Mankato. In the 5th round, Blueger would be a fine selection of a player with some decent offensive talent that could be taken earlier (4th round). After this selection, fans shouldn’t have too many complaints about, at the very least, depth at center.
6.163 – Adam Gilmour – Right Wing / Nobles Academy – Massachusetts Prep / 6.2 – 200
26-26-30-56 n/a n/a
Putting the screws to defensemen once again, the Sabres land yet another forward with Adam Gilmour. Gilmour, having committed to Boston College, is a good skater and good offensive presence on the ice. Not an overly gritty player… think of someone like Drew Stafford, a player with size who brings a good offensive game to the ice but isn’t well-stocked with sandpaper. Gilmour is a bit like Blueger, a player that seems to have a better level of talent than where he is being selected. Maybe an excellent coach like Boston College’s Jerry York can bring more out of Gilmour’s abilities.
7.193 – Alex Gudbranson – Defenseman / Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds – OHL / 6.2 – 205
50-2-7-9 0 52
Hey, a defenseman, imagine that. Gudbranson was recently traded to Sault Ste. Marie from the Kingston Frontenacs. Gudbranson’s game is pretty simple… stay-at-home defenseman who gets the puck out of the zone and puts out fires in his own end. Gudbranson is a good checker and plays with grit. He’ll get into some scraps from time to time… just a rugged player who puts forth a lot of effort. Sault Ste. Marie thought enough of him to send several draft picks to Kingston to acquire his services. Doesn’t have nearly the upside as his brother Erik, but would be a good addition to the Sabres’ stable of defensemen in the system.
7.204 – Michael Houser – Goaltender / London Knights – OHL / 6.2 – 190
62-46-15-1 2.47 / .925 / 6
Houser will turn 20 years old in September and has already played three seasons in the OHL. He is ranked low on the CSB rankings for N.A. goalies but he put forth a great season in 2011-12. Houser was a big part of the London Knights reaching the Memorial Cup. He blossomed this past season after a good campaign in 2010-11. Houser was at Buffalo’s prospects camp in the summer of 2011, so the Sabres should have a pretty good read on his abilities. He had six shutouts this past season. His status is kind of like Nathan Lieuwen’s from last year. Houser can go back and play one more year with London and he adds another goalie to the system, giving Buffalo four goalies in the prospect pipeline.
Who knows if any of these players are selected by the Sabres, but I did call the Brad Navin selection five months before it happened.
The new Fake Sabres prospects table after this draft…
(rankings loosely based)
Goalie – Connor Knapp, Brandon Whitney, Nathan Lieuwen, Michael Houser
Defensemen – Brayden McNabb, T.J. Brennan, Mark Pysyk, Jerome Gauthier-Leduc, Drew Schiestel, Alex Biega, Matt MacKenzie, Nick Crawford, Alex Lepkowski, Drew MacKenzie, Alex Gudbranson, Mark Adams
Left Wing – Marcus Foligno, Luke Adam (technically not a prospect and only occasional LW), Brad Navin, Jacob Lagace, Riley Boychuk
Center – Zemgus Girgensons, Dan Catenacci, Brendan Gaunce, Kevin Sundher, Phil Varone, Lukas Sutter, Teddy Blueger, Brian Flynn, Christian Isackson, Colin Jacobs
Right Wing – Joel Armia, Corey Tropp, Brian Hart, Shawn Szydlowski, Jonathan Parker, Adam Gilmour, Justin Jokinen