The Buffalo Sabres had a very good season finishing atop their division. However, their successes came largely off the back of Vezina winning goalie Ryan Miller. The offence was weak, and the defence was just okay.

They looked for a deep playoff run, but were upset in the first round.

The Buffalo Sabres still have plenty of room to improve and the draft is the perfect way to do this.

Without further ado, the new Sabres are as follows:

With the 23rd overall selection the Sabres got an instant upgrade on the defence. Mark Pysyk plays a very similar game to Phoenix Coyotes draft pick Brandon Gormley.

Pysyk is not amazing at the offensive side of the game, and is not a standout at the defensive side of the game, but he is so well rounded at both that he is an amazing pick.

Pysyk is very steady he rarely makes mistakes, and he can make a good breakout pass, he has the potential to improve greatly in both areas of the game, and he could be a very smart pick at 23rd.

With Buffalo's second pick they selected another defenseman by the name of Jerome Gauthier-Leduc. Leduc is the second of eight players from the Canadian Hockey League the Sabres selected.

Playing with Rouyn-Noranda, Jerome proved that he could be a very valuable asset in the offensive zone. With a very hard shot, and good puck movement he is a great guy to have to QB a power play.

Gauthier-Leduc scored 20 times from the back end, and added another 26 assists.

The only problem with his game is that he needs to improve more on his defensive game. He is not bad, but some improvements need to be made if he wants to make the Sabres.

With the second of three third round picks the Sabres finally went the forward route selecting Kevin Sundher of the Chilliwack Bruins. Sundher plays more of a one-dimensional game, but is looking to improve at the defensive game to compliment his tremendous offensive potential.

Sundher scored 61 points in 72 games in his sophomore season. Sundher plays a physical game as well; he can hit, and fight as well as score.

The Sabres seem to be leaning towards physical forwards lately, so Sundher is an excellent pick.

The final defenseman the Sabres took was Calgary Hitman Matt Mackenzie. Mackenzie brings a two-way game from the back end. With 40 points this past season, 34 of which were assists, it's clear he has plenty of offensive potential.

Mackenzie is also very solid in his own end, he rarely makes mistakes, and he is not afraid to show the physicality he brings to the game as well.

Mackenzie looks like a good steal late in the third round.

Darcy decided to go to the Ontario Hockey League for his next pick. Steven Shipley a centre from the Owen Sound Attack was selected in the fourth round.

Shipley is a pure offensive talent. His notched almost a point a game on a weak attack squad. Shipley is more of a playmaking centre, but he can also put the puck in the net. His game is fairly strong, he doesn't stand out all that much but he always finds himself on the score sheet.

The Sabres turned too Gregg Sutch in the fifth round of the draft. Sutch, to put it bluntly, is not going to score you any goals. With only 10 goals in 103 games split between the Mississauga St. Michaels Majors and Sarnia Sting he doesn't really provide much in the way of offence.

What he does bring however is a solid level of physicality. He can hit and agitate without getting into trouble himself, which is a very valuable asset to a team. However with the Sabres already having a young agitator in Kaleta, it is hard to see where Sutch would fit into this lineup.

In the sixth round the Sabres selected Cedrick Henley from the QMJHL. Henley has the offensive potential but he has yet to show it. In his junior career he has tallied 31 points in 105 games played.

All accounts say that he can score big numbers but he has yet to prove them right.

The final two picks came in the final round: Christian Isackson from the Minnesota high school system and Riley Boychuk from the Portland Winterhawks.

With St. Thomas Academy, Isackson recorded over two points a game. Isackson seems to always be in the right place to make a play. He can finish, he can pass and he does all the little things right. However, this is just high school hockey. If he can keep this up with the University of Minnesota next season he may be a solid pick.

The third last pick in the draft was Riley Boychuk. Boychuk seems to follow the tale of the tape for forwards drafted by Regier. Boychuk is not particularly gifted in the offensive department, but he is a fighter, and he is a great agitator. He projects to be a solid fourth liner.

 

Grades:

Offence: B-, Sundher and Shipley could be solid talents, but Regier picked too many gritty forwards that may not fit into the line-up. The Sabres needed offence and they didn't get it.

Defence: A+, The already strong Buffalo defence got even stronger. Pysyk, Gauthier-Leduc, and Mackenzie are all very solid prospects.

Goaltending: F, No goaltenders were drafted.

Overall: B, While the defence made good improvements the lack of offensive potential in this draft really hurts. The Sabres failed to address the key weakness in their game.

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Mark Pysyk (Defenseman—First Round, 23rd overall) Jerome Gauthier-Leduc (Defenseman—Third Round, 68th) Kevin Sundher (Center—Third Round, 75th) Matt MacKenzie (Defenseman—Third Round, 83rd) Steven Shipley (Center—Fourth Round, 98th) Gregg Sutch (Right Wing—Fifth Round, 143rd) Cedrick Henley (Left Wing—Sixth Round, 173rd) Christian Isackson (Right Wing—Seventh Round, 203rd) Riley Boychuk (Left Wing—Seventh Round, 208th) Well, the 2010 NHL Entry Draft may not have gone how fans had expected, but the Sabres have brought in some serious talent—especially on the blue line. “Of course we came in looking for some forwards, but we’re real happy with what we got,” Sabres director of amateur scouting Kevin Devine told the Buffalo News on Saturday. “When I went to bed last night, if somebody would have told me we got those three guys I would’ve been pretty happy...We had them higher than they went, so it was a good day.” If the Sabres were honestly going in with the intention of drafting a group of forwards then this should be considered one of the worst drafts in recent memory, but I can’t take that statement from Devine at face value—especially when the Sabres passed on left-winger Quinton Howden in the first round. Overall, eight of the nine players drafted are Canadian. Four players play in the Western Hockey League, two players are from the Ontario Hockey League, two are from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and Christian Isackson—the only American player drafted by the Sabres—plays for the Saint Thomas Academy High School in Minnesota.

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With the 23rd overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, the Buffalo Sabres selected defenseman Mark Pysyk of the Edmonton Oil Kings from the WHL.

It was obvious that the Sabres had one thing in mind when drafting Pysyk: puck movement.

“Skating is such a big part of the National Hockey League today and Mark fits that,” Sabres general manager Darcy Regier told NHL Radio. “Since the rule changes, mobility is a big factor. There is certainly room for a stay-at-home defenseman ... but largely, it's a skating, puck-moving game and again, Mark fits that.”

Pysyk, 18, marks the fourth defenseman taken with the Sabres first pick in the last five years. He recently completed his second season with Edmonton in the WHL. In just 48 games, he finished with seven goals and 24 points and led all defensemen on his team in points. His season was cut short due to a broken foot.

Although Pysyk did finish the season with an ugly minus-19 rating, he is noted as being an impressive all-around blue-liner. The 6’1”, 175-pound defenseman is a strong skater who can move the puck up ice quickly and, more importantly, effectively.

The Oil Kings’ passing is solid and according to the WHL scouting report, “Pysyk’s intelligence, hockey sense and passing ability make him a threat on the power play, and his skating enables him to join the rush when he sees the opportunity.”

“Mark is a pretty safe, reliable defenseman who doesn’t make a lot of mistakes, pays attention to detail, and does a lot of the little things that maybe go unnoticed,” Oil Kings’ general manager Bob Green told WHL.com.

“Definitely, his skating and his hockey sense are the first thing you’ll notice when you watch him play, but he’s got a lot of character, he’s a solid player who is dedicated to the game, he works hard, and has great habits on and off the ice.”

The drafting of Pysyk may now bring into question whether or not the Sabres are seriously considering acquiring Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Tomas Kaberle. Pysyk’s ability on the power play is certainly nowhere near Kaberle’s, but in time, he should develop nicely.

Overall, drafting Pysyk shouldn’t hinder any negotiations for Kaberle, but it does leave the Sabres with a nice option should any deal with Toronto fall through. Regardless, Buffalo’s goal to find a player who can open up the ice for others was reached. The Sabres next pick will not be until the third round, 68th overall.

 

 

 

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On Friday night, round one of the 2010 Entry Draft hit four hours as many were surprised by some of the selections. Taylor Hall went first overall to Edmonton, followed by Tyler Seguin to Boston.

Boston already has enough centers on the team as of right now. The Bruins may be looking to move a couple via trade, but there will have to be room for Seguin in the future. Boston and Edmonton could have gotten together and helped each other out.

It would have been beneficial for both clubs to swap the picks, while Boston sends Tim Thomas to Edmonton. The Oilers are in need for a goaltender, and Thomas could have solidified that spot. The pick swap would have allowed Boston to take Hall, and Edmonton then would get Seguin. This suggested trade could have improved both clubs.

Buffalo was not even mentioned until the No. 23 overall pick came up. The Sabres end up choosing Mark Pysyk, a defensman from the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League. He was described as a safe and steady player, which is not what Buffalo needs right now.

It was rumored that the Sabres were going after Jarred Tinordi, but the Montreal Canadiens took him with the No. 22 overall pick after swapping in a trade.

It was a typical Darcy Regier thing to do by playing it safe. Buffalo had the chance to take players like Quentin Howden or Emerson Etem. 

Etem scored 65 points in 72 games with the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL this past season. The 19 year old center would have been a solid pick by the Sabres.

Pysyk scored 24 points in 48 games for the Oil Kings last season and is another so-so defenseman that will be in Portland for a couple of years. 

Perhaps the Sabres are preparing for backups if Henrik Tallinder and Toni Lydman leave town. Not only that, but Craig Rivet is going to be out for a few months due to surgery, which could force him to miss playing time come October.

Pysyk is not a horrible pick by the Sabres, but they could have done much better. If they really wanted a higher quality player, Regier could have traded up a few spots, especially with Cam Fowler and Brandon Gormley going 12th and 13th. Imagine one of those guys being paired up with Tyler Myers in a year or two.

The Sabres will not pick again until the third round, but will then have three picks in 15 spots. Buffalo also has one selection in each of the last four rounds as well.

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With 82 games, you may not be able to catch them all. For all the Sabres fans, here are the ones you should be looking forward to the most.

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General Manager Darcy Regier has not been known for making many trades over the years, but some have worked out to improve the team. Here is a look back at the best and worst Sabres trades over the last decade.

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It’s been a few years since General manager Darcy Regier has made a significant move to improve the Sabres. The offseason has just started, and I am already tired of waiting for Regier to do something. It’s just not going to happen.

There were plenty of positive thoughts and opportunities, but none of them have or will come through. Tomas Kaberle has been the biggest rumor in Buffalo, but apparently the deal fell through. Even though Regier still has a chance to acquire Kaberle, it’s not likely.

Henrik Tallinder and Toni Lydman are both on their way out as well, meaning Buffalo will have to fill two spots on defense already. Even if the Sabres bring up Marc-Andre Gragnani, it still leaves an open spot.

The Sabres lost a chance to acquire Nathan Horton from the Florida Panthers. Boston got him by giving away two draft picks and Dennis Wideman, who scored 30 points and went -14 last season. Why couldn’t the Sabres at least match that offer?

Not only did the Sabres not get Horton, but now he has become a divisional rival. The Bruins will now have Marc Savard, Nathan Horton, and the 2nd pick in the draft in the lineup this year, significantly improving the team.

Buffalo fans are now sitting and waiting for Regier to do something. This Sabres team needs a change. Players need to go. The management needs changing. You don’t even see owner Tom Golisano at the games anymore.

When the Sabres re-acquired Mike Grier, Grier said he was excited to be back because the team was headed in the right direction. Take another look. 

Regier hasn’t brought in a solid player since his Briere/Drury days. Then he lost them both, along with Brian Campbell. Since then, what has he done?

Steve Bernier, Dainius Zubrus, Dominic Moore, Raffi Torres, and Craig Rivet have been the biggest moves for Regier over the past few years. Look at what all the other teams around the NHL are doing. Philadelphia was able to get Chris Pronger, Boston got Horton, and Toronto got Phaneuf.

Buffalo has a few key players locked up that are holding the team together. Ryan Miller, Tyler Myers, and Thomas Vanek are the team right now. The Sabres finished 4th in the league last season in goals against. If Lindy Ruff is going to “roll four lines,” the Buffalo is going to need some solid players to do that effectively.

Tim Connolly, Drew Stafford, and Derek Roy have all been mentioned in the possibility of being traded, but it’s not probable. Instead, Regier is letting two solid defensemen go, along with the backup goaltender, but that part is understood.

Regier has numerous options and opportunities, but he needs a different approach for the Summer. This is hopefully his final year as general manager. He’ll be on his way out if he continues to be his usual self.

The fans are waiting on you, Darcy. Make something happen!

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Having already covered a total of ten Eastern Conference teams, we now turn our focus to the next five: the Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh Penguins, Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils and the Washington Capitals. Needless to say, drafting between 18th and 30th overall, the pickings get a little slim towards the end. That said, many have seen players slip through the cracks. Will the 2010 edition of the NHL Entry Draft be any different?

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The Buffalo Sabres are a team that prides itself on winning games through solid defense and incredible balance. Unfortunately, the team’s balance wasn’t enough to get past the sixth-seeded Boston Bruins in the opening round of the 2010 playoffs. The Sabres’ balance makes it difficult to pinpoint one specific position or type of player to draft. One thing the Sabres will not need in this draft is a goalie. Ryan Miller will have the reigns between the pipes in Buffalo for years to come and 21-year-old goaltender Jhonas Enroth is developing nicely with the Portland Pirates in the AHL. Rumor has it that the Sabres would like to land Notre Dame freshman Riley Sheahan in the first round of this year’s entry draft—which will be held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on June 25-26—assuming all of the other picks go according to plan. But would the well-rounded center fit into what the Sabres need to draft? There are a lot of “what-ifs” taken into account in my thought process—and a lot of them will rely on the opening of free agency on July 1. The planning that it takes to account for every possible move that can be made by the 22 other teams that get to pick before the Sabres in the first round is incredible. Since the Sabres don’t have a second-round pick this year—thanks a lot Craig Rivet—a lot of importance will be placed on who they take in the first round. Buffalo also has three third-round picks to make up for that long stretch between the first and third round without a selection. Here are five types of players Buffalo should be looking to select in this year’s draft.

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Edmonton/Boston: Will A Trade Be Made?

As draft day approaches, the question remains: Taylor or Tyler? Edmonton has given no hints as to whom it plans on taking with the first overall pick, but most analysts concur that Taylor Hall will go first overall in the 2010 draft. This is despite the fact that the Central Scouting Bureau ranks Seguin number one. It seems that raw offensive skill is just too sexy to pass on.

Taylor Hall is one of the most electrifying and dynamic forwards in years. He closely resembles Zack Parise of the New Jersey Devils. Expected to go second overall is Tyler Seguin, Taylor Hall’s equal in the OHL. Seguin is a hard working and high scoring two way centerman in vein of Stevie Yzerman. The closest modern day example of Tyler Seguin would be the most recent Conn Smythe recipient, Jonathan Toews.

Here’s where the plot thickens: While both players should develop into excellent NHL’ers, Boston is said to have its eyes on Taylor Hall. The Bruins, already deep at center, would love to draft Hall, not Seguin, to replace high scoring winger Phil Kessel (whose 30+ goals were greatly missed this season.) Add into the equation that Hall is a self proclaimed Boston Bruins fan, and it seems like a match made in heaven for the B’s.

Edmonton is fully aware of Boston’s desire to draft Hall over Seguin, and may be willing to wheel and deal. Look for Boston to attempt a draft day splash; trading the second overall pick (Tyler Seguin) and All-Star goalie Tim Thomas to Edmonton for the 1st overall pick (Taylor Hall). This could pay huge dividends for Edmonton, a team which currently has no legit starting goaltender.

UFA’s

Anton Volchenkov : The biggest defenseman in this year’s UFA list is Anton Volchenkov. A hard hitting, shot blocking rock at the blueline, Volchenkov is exactly the type of defenseman teams on the cusp of a cup run look to acquire. Volchenkov is said to be greatly desired by both Pittsburgh and Washington, two teams which were bounced out early in the playoffs due to a lack of physicality and size. Washington was said to be the front runner to sign Volchenkov on July 1st, but has since backed away. Look for Pittsburgh to take a strong run at him.

Sabres

Lydman, Tallinder, Or Neither ?

It would be in the Sabres best interest to take a serious look at their defense this summer. Both Henrik Tallinder and Toni Lydman are UFA’s . The Sabres should attempt to bring back one of the pair, preferably Lydman. Lydman is a more physical dman, and has been known to elevate his game during crunch time. Tallinder, a more finesse dman, played well last season for Buffalo, but shouldn’t be resigned. Look to Toronto and GM Brian Burke as a hint to where the NHL is heading in a few short seasons: big, mean physical defenseman will be all the rage. Keep Lydman over Tallinder.

Powerplay QB

Look for Regier to try and fix the busted Sabres power play by acquiring a power play specialist. Two power play specialists will be available this summer (albeit at very different costs): Tomas Kaberle and Sergei Gonchar.

Kaberle has a year remaining on his contract in Toronto, but GM Brian Burke is looking to move him due to a glut at the defense position (Burke acquired Dion Phaneuf in a blockbuster trade at the deadline in March.) Thus, the only way to acquire Kaberle is via trade. The Sabres would need to surrender their 1st round pick in this years draft, combined with a NHLer and possibly a prospect as well. Our 1st round pick, Drew Stafford and Grangani could get it done. It could be an expensive trade for Regier though; after Kaberle’s contract expires, there’s no guarantee he resigns with the Sabres. Kaberle’s cap hit would be a reasonable $4.25 million.

Sergei Gonchar will most likely be available this summer as a UFA. Word out of Pittsburgh is the Pens are ready to part ways with their longtime PPQB. At 36 years old, Gonchar is entering the twilight of his career.  Signing a player at his age is risky business; there’s no guarantee that the wheels wont fall off half way through the new contract. However, if the Sabres are prepared to take the financial risk to acquire Gonchar, they won’t have to surrender any draft picks or players to acquire him.

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