The Buffalo Sabres are always in the spotlight during the NHL Draft period. And, by the time the 22nd pick rolls around, the talk usually centers on whether or not the team will select a franchise player-to-be, or simply a solid player who can hopefully contribute to the rebuild.
Just a few weeks ago, the NHL Draft Lottery was held and the Buffalo Sabres were assigned the No. 1 pick in the 2021 draft. Since this is their first draft with a top selection, those who choose to cast an eye on the Sabres’ roster and potential draft pick will have to make a prediction as to who they predict the team will select. Who would you like the Sabres to draft with the first pick in the 2021 draft?
The Sabres have been stuck in a rut for a long time now, with a long list of draft failures in the last decade. That is mostly because Buffalo has had difficultly drafting players with the No. 1 overall pick, but there have been some bright spots along the way. In the next couple of years, the Sabres have a chance to have their first No. 1 pick since the 1999 entry draft.. Read more about buffalo sabres 2021 draft picks and let us know what you think.The 2021 NHL draft lottery took place Wednesday night, but the presumptive No. 1 was not present. Instead, Owen Power slept. Are you nervous? Powers’ former general manager at Chicago Steel, Ryan Hardy, wrote to the defender on Wednesday. Power was in Latvia to play against Canada in the men’s hockey world championship. He texted Hardy back when he woke up Thursday. Lol, no. I wasn’t nervous, Power replied. I said: Okay, good luck tonight buddy, have fun, Hardy said. He said: Thank you, you’re beautiful. Hardy smiled as he remembered this exchange. That’s how he is, Hardy said. I love this guy. Nothing can shake it off. The 2021 NHL Draft, which will be held virtually on the 23rd and 24th. July is a tough month for NHL reviewers. Due to the pandemic, many junior, high school and international leagues did not run a full season. The OHL, one of Canada’s top junior leagues, did not play at all. Much of the evaluation took place via video, rather than the usual face-to-face evaluations. There was also no consensus last year on the obvious No. 1 pick for the franchise, such as Alexis Lafreniere (2020), Jack Hughes (2019) or Rasmus Dahlin (2018). But Power, a Canadian-born left defender who played at the University of Michigan last season, has emerged as a leader. The Buffalo Sabres should take the first pick and the Seattle Cracks the second. I think Owen Power is probably going to be the No. 1 player because everyone says so, an NHL scout said. And usually, at this time of year, what everyone is talking about happens. So who’s the authority? The first thing they say about him is his height: 1.90 m. It was very frustrating, a lot of people were talking about his size, Hardy said. I think something good has happened in Scouting in the last decade: People don’t talk anymore: Okay, the kid’s tall, he’s got potential, we’ll take him. Today it is being questioned because many of these high flyers have become losers. So maybe some people are wrong to call it that. But his hockey sense, competitive spirit and skills are really incredible for such a young and great player. 2 Connected According to Hardy, that’s not the only thing Power excels at. His specialty is that he is very, very humble, but very, very dedicated, Hardy said. It’s trainable. He always wants more information. He never sees himself as above it all. He just wants to learn more and more, to improve and grow. When do you have an attitude with a frame like that? This is Owen Power’s project. I don’t think many people know how good it is. When the Chicago Steel Power drafted in 2018, the original plan was for the 15-year-old to play one season in the Canadian juniors before heading to the USHL. This summer he participated in Camp Staal. His foot speed wasn’t what it should be, and he needed to straighten some things out, Hardy said. But he was 6-foot-3, 15 years old, never let go of the puck, had an incredible sense of play and confidence. And we thought: Oh, my God, we have to do everything we can to recruit this guy. At the time, the Steel were rebuilding and didn’t have many defenders. This gives Power a top 4 finish from the start. He had been struggling for a while, Hardy said. Then, around Thanksgiving or Christmas, it started to rise. In the playoffs, he was probably the best defender we had. He played 22, 24 minutes. Chicago will have an even better team next season in 2019-20. Owen was definitely our best player, Hardy said. We had [Brendan] Brisson, who was a first-round pick [in 2020]. This year we have [Matthew] Coronato and [Matthew] Samoskiewicz who will likely be selected in the first round . But this man, Owen Power, seems very different from all the others. To get an idea of other players who could make the top 10, ESPN surveyed several NHL player evaluators in North America and Europe. This is what they identified: Message: The players are listed in alphabetical order. Matty Benyers competed for the men’s senior team at the World Championships this spring. EyesWideOpen/Getty Images
Matty Benyers, C, Michigan (NCAA)
Benyers grew up near Boston and said he modeled his game after Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron. Like Bergeron, Benjers is a classic two-way center. Incredible 200-foot shooter who is conscientious in all areas, a reviewer said. He makes the players around him better, and you always know what you’re going to get from him. According to one expert, Benyers may not have as much potential as Bergeron as a starting center, but he has the potential to succeed and be effective in the league. Like Power, Benyers gained a lot of experience at the World Championships this spring. Unfortunately, he left Wednesday’s game against Slovakia with an apparent ankle injury.
Nikita Chibrikov, RW, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL)
Chibrikov was named the fourth best European skater by NHL Central Scouting and comes after a strong World Under-18 Championship in which he captained the Russian national team. Chibrikov scored four goals and provided nine assists in just seven games – including a goal in extension in a thrilling 7-6 victory over host USA – and Russia won silver. The diminutive striker played in the KHL this season as a 17-year-old, but a KHL source who saw him play said that Chibrakov showed some promise in Europe’s top professional league, but didn’t really stand out. But from what I’ve seen of the U18s, he clearly has talent, the source said. Chibrikov is still under contract with St. Petersburg. Petersburg until 2022-23, so the earliest we could see him in the NHL is the 2023-24 season.
Brandt Clark, D, Barry Colts (OHL)
The postponement and eventual cancellation of the Ontario Hockey League season has left many hopefuls looking for a place to play. Clark found a temporary home in Slovakia, where he played 26 matches for HC Nove Zamki. An NHL staffer who lives in Ontario and follows the OHL closely said Clark could be the best puck moving defenseman in this draft, something NHL teams definitely need. Clark is a gifted attacker, with five goals and 10 assists for the Nove Castles HCs and seven points in seven games for Canada at the World U18 Championships. The expert said Clark could work on his skating, but he makes up for some shortcomings with a strong hockey IQ. I think he has the potential to become a top-five [draft] player, Framer said. He will clearly be considered a power player, but he has the aptitude of a better defender. I’m not sure what it will be, but it’s all there.
Matthew Coronato, RW, Chicago Steele (USHL)
Another former Chicago Steele player likely to be selected in the first round is Coronato, a New York native. Post-game analysis and broadcast every night of the season by Barry Melrose and Linda Cohn. Watch ESPN+ It’s probably in the 10-15 range, Hardy said. It’s very competitive. He has played in 59 games this year and scored 57 goals. If you score 25 goals in this league, that’s a huge achievement for the season. How similar is his play to other current draft prospects who easily find the net, like Alex DeBrincat and Cole Cofield? DeBrincat does a great job of getting into the weak areas of the defense, catching pucks and getting them in. Cofield, he can put it wherever he wants, Hardy said. Coronato is more like Brad Marchand – sometimes he shoots, sometimes rebounds, sometimes he intercepts and shoots, sometimes he only shoots once. He doesn’t have that signature shot, but that’s why he scores so many points, because he can do it so many ways.
Simon Edvinsson, D, Frölunda (SHL)
One of the most intriguing defenders in this year’s draft, outside of Power, is Edvinsson, who is 6-foot-4. He’s a big boy who can do what little boys normally do, a Swedish scout said. Handling the puck, moving forward, being good at short passes or short outlet passes, finding solutions….. And be able to do that with his size? Such a man is hard to find. If you can get a high draft pick, acquiring such a player will benefit you in the long run. Scout called Edvinsson the best talent in Sweden this year. Edvinsson will be the best, the best player in the NHL for years to come, the scout said. But he has yet to arrive and play against bigger and stronger men before he is ready. If the hosting NHL team is patient, they will get a very good player.
William Eklund, LW, Djugårdens (SHL)
Eklund has a few obstacles to overcome this season: He missed the World Junior Championships due to a false-positive COVID test and on his return to Sweden, his appendix burst. He’s had a tough year, a scout in Sweden said. But his early and late game were really good. The scout continued: He surprised everyone a little. He was good last year, but this year he has exploded. He holds the puck so well, he protects it so well. He plays like an adult. He’s not the kind of junior who comes in and runs all over the field. Everything he does makes sense. I think we can trust him and that’s why he plays so many minutes for them. He was part of a good line, which obviously helps, but he also scored a lot of goals. Like many other aspirants this year, Eklund could get at least one more year in Europe before coming to North America. He’s pretty big, but I don’t think he’s physically ready yet, Scout said. Give him this summer and the next to continue building his muscles so he’s ready to play, with the goal of becoming a good NHL player for years to come. Dylan Guenther only played a few games for the Oil Kings, but he did so with good success. Derek Leung/Getty Images
Dylan Gunther, RW, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
Gunter is the best striker on this year’s squad. He was the reserve captain for Canada at the World Under-18 Championships, scoring four goals and three assists in seven games. Although his WHL season was cut to 12 games, he scored 24 points (12 goals, 12 assists) in that span. I wouldn’t be surprised if Gunther was in the top 5. Says an NHL official: A very experienced player. It has everything you’re looking for: Size, speed, skills, leadership qualities. He’s a bit skinny at the moment, he needs to build up some muscle and weight. Great hockey IQ and works with the puck a lot. But the biggest compliment comes from the NHL evaluator: I think he has the potential to be a star in this league.
Luke Hughes, D, US National Team Development Program
The youngest of the Hughes brothers. After the success of his brothers Quinn (No. 7 overall in Vancouver in 2018) and Jack (No. 1 overall in New Jersey in 2019), where will the young defenseman end up? Says a source in the league: If Luke Hughes is a good fit, New Jersey and Vancouver will have a hard time not picking him. Play for $9,000 during the NHL postseason! Make your choice The Devils pick #4 and that’s a realistic landing spot given his talent. Hughes, who died on the 15th. His birthday in September 2003 makes him one of the youngest players in the draft, which should pique the interest of teams in his prospects. One of the first things NHL evaluators notice about Luke is that he is taller than his brothers (6’4). But he has similar traits; most who have seen him have always admired the smoothness of his skating. He’s an incredible skater, one expert said. He’s exceptional in that area, and I think that allows him to have a high ceiling in the offense. Kent Johnson is a dynamic point guard and played for the University of Michigan last season. Lon Horwedel/Icon Sportswire
Kent Johnson, c/z, Michigan (NCAA)
Johnson is another talented Wolverine who is expected to be selected at a high level; and when it comes to outstanding finishes, he will likely make SportsCenter’s list of top players. I like Kent Johnson, said one of the reviewers. He has a dynamic and creative ability. A unique way to express yourself. One last thing: He has absolutely no fear in possession of the puck and makes smart, calculated decisions. What he can create in attack is something special. He plays fast, he’s a great prospect. It’s very interesting to watch.
Mason McTavish, c/c, Peterborough, OHL
McTavish, Canada’s alternate captain at the World Under-18 Championships, scored five goals and six assists in seven games at the tournament. He spent the season on loan at EHC Olten in the Swiss league. He did well overseas, scoring 11 points (nine goals, two assists) in 13 regular season games and seven points (two goals, five assists) in four playoff games. NHL Central Scouting placed McTavish second among North American skaters in its latest rankings. McTavish plays a hard game, even though his skating can’t be called elite. An NHL staff member who has seen McTavish play suggested that the forward would be more comfortable in the NHL as a winger than a center. A truly relentless player, an NHL source said. A man you want to fight.
Aratu Reti, C, Karpaty (Liiga)
Raty was considered one of the best, if not the best, pick in the 2021 draft. After a disappointing season in Finland, in which he scored just six points in 36 games, he took a sudden nosedive. He is known more as a playmaker than a pure striker. There are so many kids who haven’t had a chance to play this year, especially because the OHL is closed, one evaluator said. Rathy unfortunately lost his shares because he made a bet. He hasn’t had it easy this season. Rati’s problems occurred in the premier league in Finland, when he was a teenager playing against grown men. He has performed much better in games against his peers, so he shouldn’t be downgraded just yet.
Jesper Valstedt, g, Luleå (SHL)
The goalie has been on the radar of many NHL teams for some time and has performed well in international youth tournaments as a member of the Swedish national team. People don’t pick goalies that high, but I think he can be a top-15 player based on the team’s needs, the Swedish scout said. He’s a great goalie, pretty athletic, played in the SHL all year, did great and was one of the best goalies in the league. Being a young player in the SHL is not that common, and being a young goalie in this league is even rarer. I would lift it high. He is the third best Swede in this draft.The offseason is here, and that means the NHL entry draft is on the horizon. Hockey fans know that this grueling event is a time where a new NHL franchise gets its start, but how does the process work? In this blog post, we will take you on a journey through the NHL draft process and discuss candidates who are likely to be selected in the top 5.. Read more about buffalo sabres news and let us know what you think.
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