The Buffalo Sabres enter the 2011 NHL Entry Draft on Friday with the 16th pick in the first round. An area they must look at addressing is that of a future number one center. With saying that, Sabres GM Darcy Regier should shift his sights on moving somewhere into the top 10. If he can’t do this then the Sabres should stay where they are at 16. Any move from 11-15 by giving up too much just doesn’t make sense with this years draft crop.
A couple of reasons why Buffalo should look into trying to trade up in the draft a few spots is to potentially get Niagara Ice Dogs forward Ryan Strome or Drummondville star, and former #1 ranked player, Sean Couturier. Sabre fans may remember Couturier from the past years World Jr’s hosted in Buffalo.
Sean Couturier (6’4, 197 pounds) Center, Drummondville (QMJHL)
Couturier has the ability to pile up points as was shown in the past two QMJHL campaigns by register 96 points in each of them. He was the top scorer in the QMJHL in 2009-2010 as a seventeen year old. Couturier brings a wealth of skill and great playmaking ability to compliment his 6’4 stature. This is a kid who may slip a little in the draft as a “forgotten player” behind all the hype with Landeskog and Nugent-Hopkins.
Ryan Strome (6’0, 175 pounds) Center, Niagara (OHL)
Strome is another playmaker with some great speed. He led his Niagara Ice Dogs of the OHL in points this past year with 106 (33G, 73A) which was also good for 3rd in the OHL overall. He is a gritty player with a knack to go to the net and grab loose rebounds and also isn’t scared to stand in front of the net to tip a shot. Strome has some roots close to Buffalo by playing his junior hockey in Niagara and he would become a fan favorite if he ever donned a Sabres jersey on.
Couturier and Strome may be wishful thinking for the Sabres only if they can move up in the draft. If they stay at the sixteen spot the Sabres should still look at top forward unless a top notch defense man is available.
Zack Phillips (6’1, 178 pounds) Center, Saint John (QMJHL)
Phillips has been compared to an Adam Oates style player. A great playmaker who can play very strong on the puck, Phillips can be a great set up center in the future for the Sabres. He was on a very talented Saint John Sea Dog team who captured the Mastercard Memorial Cup this season, which means Phillips knows how to win.
Brandon Saad (6’1, 208 pounds) Left Wing, Saginaw (OHL)
Saad was rated 8th overall by Central Scouting for the mid rankings but has dropped down a few spots now. Saad has great speed and can be dominating at times both offensively and defensively. A great two way player that may slip right into the Sabres hands.
Mark Scheifele (6’2 ,182 pounds) Center, Barrie (OHL)
Scheifele had a breakout rookie year in the OHL this past season by amassing 75 points (22G, 53A) in 66 games. A kid with a great attitude who loves being at the rink Scheifele is also very good playmaker with good upside on the defensive end of the rink. His biggest asset, which Sabre fans will love, is that he is a very hard worker on the ice.
Regier may have another option and that is to package the first round pick and another player to get a guy that can help the Sabres now. With new owner, Terry Pegula, wanting to win a cup very soon this might be the way the Sabres go. Look for Regier’s phone to be busy on draft day if a team below the Sabres is high on a player that may have slipped down in the draft.
Buffalo is also without a 2nd rounder in this years draft as they traded that pick to St. Louis in the Brad Boyes deal. The Sabres may even trade down to get a second rounder in the early stages of the draft. Either way they will be a very busy team come draft day.
SABRES PICKS IN THE 2011 NHL ENTRY DRAFT
1st round, 16th overall
3rd round, 77th overall
4th round, 107th overall
5th round, 137th overall
6th Round, 167th overall
7th round, 197th overall
About the Author
Written by George Kouvalis
A huge fan of sports who loves to travel for major events. I've seen my fair share of major games and events including three Olympics, Wimbledon, The Masters etc.... Always up for a road trip or a drink to talk over sports or pro wrestling, in any city I am in or online. Favorite Teams: Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto FC, Toronto Blue Jays, Chicago Bulls, San Francisco 49ers, Toronto Argonauts, Manchester United, and of course the teams I blog for, the Texas Rangers and Buffalo Sabres. Follow me on twitter at the handle georgekouvalis