With the 2013 NHL Entry Draft just days away, the burning question being asked by most Buffalo Sabres fans is, “What will the rebuild look like?” As everyone who follows the Sabres is well aware, Buffalo will pick twice in the first round, at the 8th and 16th spots. If the Sabres are smart, they will use those two picks to acquire two very different types of players, since the team needs help on both ends of the ice.
A few of the mock drafts that I have read show the Buffalo Sabres grabbing a defenseman with the 8th pick, which is a terrible idea. If you look at how many one-goal games the Sabres lost this year, and then consider how totally inept their power play was, you have to believe that this team could have stolen the eighth playoff spot if the offense had possessed a little more punch. Because of that, the Sabres need to address their offensive shortcoming first and foremost, which is why Buffalo will draft someone like Elias Lindholm or Hunter Shinkaruk with the 8th pick. Fans would love to see Valeri Nichushkin or Sean Monahan will still available at this point . . . but they won’t, so keep dreaming. Lindholm will be just what the doctor ordered if the Sabres can snag him, and even Shinkaruk (who is apparently the next coming of Zach Parise) will electrify the Buffalo faithful with his sick moves.
Once the Sabres improve their offense, then they can turn around and look at the defensive prospects who will still be available when the 16th pick rolls around. Obviously, Seth Jones and Darnell Nurse will be off the board, and chances are Rasmus Risotlainen will be gone, as well. If Mirco Mueller is available, he very well could end up being a bit of a steal for the Sabres. The Sabres don’t necessarily have to pick a d-man at this point – a lot of fans have called for Max Domi or Adam Erne for the 16th pick – but it’s not like the draft is loaded with defensemen who look close to being NHL-ready, so if the Sabres don’t grab one now they may as well not even bother looking to add a blue-liner in this draft.
Some speculation on whether the Sabres will go after a goalie in the first round is pure insanity; if the Sabres pick up a net minder, it will not be until round two, at least.
And that’s the semi-official draft strategy for the Buffalo Sabres.