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GASabresIUFAN

The Sabres: Drafting and Prospect Development

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I noticed that the great Cal Petersen is in the AHL and it made me wonder about our drafting and development over the last decade.  Obviously Petersen spurned the Sabres for "greener" pastures, but Jonas Johansson, who was drafted a year after Petersen and who I and other probably wrote off as a legit NHL prospect, has quietly put himself in the running for a shot at the NHL this season.  Good for him.

Our organization seems to have infinite patience with goalies.  Ullmark was a 6th rd pick in 2012 and Johansson a 3rd in 2014.  Outside these two and the development of Victor Olofsson (7th rd pick in 2014).  Our drafting and development under DR and TM and now JB has been bad especially outside the 1st rd.  Even then in can be argued that we often drafted the wrong guy and or failed to develop them properly.

Here are some of the highlights

2010 - 9 picks and only 1, our 1st rd pick Mark Pysyk became an NHL player.  All others have never played a single NHL game.  We did show patience with Pysyk as he played significant parts of 3 seasons in the AHL

2011- 6 picks and only 1st rd pick Joel Armia became an NHLer.  Joel was found wanting and traded away after only 1.5 seasons in the AHL.  To bad we could use some depth scoring.  Other 5 picks have played 19 NHL games total.

2012 - A reasonably solid draft, but no stars.  We have 3 Sabres from this year, Girgensons (1st rd), McCabe (2nd rd) and Ullmark (6th rd).  However missing on Grigorenko (1st rd 12 the overall) hurt the rebuild. 8 picks overall.

2013 - Produced 2 D studs in the 1st with Zadorov and RIsto plus solid depth forward JT Compher early in the second, but we missed failing to develop 2 key additional 2nd rd picks (Bailey and Hurley) and highly thought of 3rd pick Baptiste.  Petersen (5th rd) spurning the Sabres also doesn't help.   Also TM dumped Zadorov and Compher as key assets to accelerate the rebuild.  Thus of the 11 picks, only Risto has had a lasting impact on the rebuild.

2014 - Reinhart 2nd overall was probably not the best pick there do to his mediocre foot speed, but hindsight is 20/20 and at least he is a top 6 forward.  Without the late development of Olofsson and maybe Johansson, this 9 pick draft is a bust.  It especially hurts that the 3 2nd rd picks never played a game for the Sabres.  Karabacek maybe one of the worst 2nd rd picks in Sabres history.  At least Cornel is still in the AHL but that is his ceiling.

2015 - Eichel and ???? Borgen (4th rd) has a chance, and Guhle (2nd rd) was traded away, but neither will ever be more then 3rd pairing NHL depth.  The other 3 picks are nothing.  This draft could have been so much more has TM held on to our other 2 1st rd picks and early 2nd rd pick.  Players like Beauvillier, Boeser, and Konecny could have been Sabres and helping our forward depth immeasurably.  

2016 - 10 picks and only early 2nd rd pick looks to have an NHL future.  At least Jbot turned TM's terrible selection of Alex Nylander 7th overall into Henri Jokiharju who is now a top 4 D for us in his 1st full NHL season.  The other 8 picks are all busts with only Fitzgerald and Murray (both Amerks) having an outside NHL chance.

NOTE: To Date we have 4 players from the 25 TM drafted.  Eichel, Reinhart, Olofsson, and Asplund.  Awful.

2017 - 6 Picks, all still in the organization.  Highlights: Mitts( 8th overall) in the AHL after being rushed to the NHL and then struggling, but seems to be getting his confidence back and , UPL a rising goalie star and a 1st year pro.  The other 4 picks are still on the radar.  Davidsson and Laaksonen are still in europe and Bryson (AHL) and Weissbach (NCAA) are worth watching.  This could be a great draft but we won't know for 2-3 more years.

2018- Dahlin is a star in the making.  Samuelsson and Pekar just played in the World Jrs but were of limited impact.  The other 3 look like busts.  Still we could get three players out of this draft.

2019 - 6 players with some intriguing prospects.  Cozens (7th overall) played solidly for Canada at the World Jrs and could be a Sabre as early as next year, but I hope they don't rush him as they did Mitts. 3rd rd pick  Portillo looks to have an NHL future but considering Ullmark and Johansson's slow development who knows when he'll arrive.  1st rd pick Johnson has a ways to go as well.   The other 3 picks are unknowns at this point, and it is to early to tell but none seem to be making a great impact on their current teams.

Edited by GASabresIUFAN
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IF you want to really know why our rebuild has failed, look no further then the crappy drafting done over the last decade.

Current Sabres

Forwards:

1st Line Eichel (1st - 2015), Reinhart (1st- 2014) and Olfosson (7th 2014)

4th Line Girgensons (1st 2012) and Asplund (2nd  2016)

Defense

1st Line Dahlin (1st 2018)

2nd Line RIsto (1st 2013) McCabe (2nd 2012)

Goaltending

Starter - Ullmark (6th 2012)

62 picks since 2012 and only 9 players on the Sabres from these 8 drafts and 3 are from 2012.  Exclude 2012 and we have 6 players and 4 are top 8 selections.  

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This is all good info and most are aware of these failures. I would also argue that there have been 2 rebuilds and the 2nd one is still up in the air.

Another thing, weren't we using video scouting for some of that time? That might account for some issues.

Also, how do we rank against all other teams during this time frame? Would be interesting to see if others have failed  and which teams were very good at drafting.

Good work though on your behalf.

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You can’t judge it without comparing it to the rest of the league.  How did we do relative to the rest of the league?

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1 hour ago, Weave said:

You can’t judge it without comparing it to the rest of the league.  How did we do relative to the rest of the league?

Exactly 

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Two things:

- Have to compare it to the rest of the league to see it it was actually good or not, as others have said.

-The players drafted, who were then traded but are now successful NHL players can not be excluded from the final analysis.  Just because a player was traded does not mean that they were a poor draft pick or poorly developed.

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Nice analysis from the OP.  Something I feel has been missing from the drafting history are some players with more grit and tenacity.  Yes, you need to draft talent, but I also wanted to see some more size with toughness sprinkled in.  We drafted "nice" players, but few or none brought an edge with them.

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Yeah, @GASabresIUFAN -- we're glad you stayed up until 3:00 AM putting that post together, but now we need you to repeat the exercise for another 30 teams -- so get to it!

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19 minutes ago, Carmel Corn said:

Nice analysis from the OP.  Something I feel has been missing from the drafting history are some players with more grit and tenacity.  Yes, you need to draft talent, but I also wanted to see some more size with toughness sprinkled in.  We drafted "nice" players, but few or none brought an edge with them.

Columbus stated Dalton Smith in the 2nd round in 2011.  He's plenty tough.  🙂

2 minutes ago, nfreeman said:

Yeah, @GASabresIUFAN -- we're glad you stayed up until 3:00 AM putting that post together, but now we need you to repeat the exercise for another 30 teams -- so get to it!

But we've been down this road before. The most recent drafts may be different but a few years ago the same analysis was performed against the rest of the league and the Sabres were middle of the pack. 

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1 hour ago, Curt said:

Two things:

- Have to compare it to the rest of the league to see it it was actually good or not, as others have said.

-The players drafted, who were then traded but are now successful NHL players can not be excluded from the final analysis.  Just because a player was traded does not mean that they were a poor draft pick or poorly developed.

In addition, those players drafted, who were flipped to another team in which a player came back to the Sabres and made it to the roster should also be counted. For example, if Nylander never pans out but Jokiharju does then the Nylander draft wasn't a bust per se.  It resulted in an NHL player for the Sabres, just not the one they intended.

If one were to narrowly focus on the success of the draft as those players who the Sabres picked who made it to the NHL, that wouldn't tell the whole story. You could also draft a player, flip them to another team who mismanages them and they never make it.  We might not know if they would have made it to the NHL in the Sabres organization.

It's tough to just look at those aspects, because ultimately it all goes to demonstrating their success at building a team. Which clearly has not been exceptional. But, it does play out the balance of building your team from the ground up as opposed to where Colorado is at the moment. Given how few players on their roster are their own draft picks.,

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I’ve seen this claim before by other posters and other forums. And when it’s kindly pointed out that such claims of ineptitude or lack of success can’t be measured unless you do a “hit/miss” analysis with all teams so a comparison can be done ... there are crickets from the OP who made the claim in the first place. Is this one of those threads. Again? 
 

Because I’ll just counter and speculate that the Sabres are pretty average when “hitting” on players outside the 1st round. Hell, I’ll even claim outside the top 10.

 

and what constitutes “hitting” on a player? I bet everyone has a different answer for that.

And what constitutes “missing” on a player? I bet everyone has a different answer for that.

Edited by Zamboni

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Nice write up OP.

It would be interesting to know how the scouting department evolved after Peguoa took over and when we consider the "video scouting" era to have run its course.  IIRC, Murray added some scouts and then Botterill did a heavy revamp.  Correlating those changes with the players selected would be interesting to see.  (Not suggesting anybody actually do that legwork; just stating it would be good info to see if somebody has done that.)

Also, for a long time THN would rate the league's scoutingbdepartments by # of selections still in the NHL & # of games played in the bigs (whether they were with the team that originally selected them or not).  Prior to video scouting, the Sabres were historically near the top of those ratings.  Not sure how they've fared since.  If anybody has that handy, it would be interesting to see that as well.

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5 hours ago, nfreeman said:

Yeah, @GASabresIUFAN -- we're glad you stayed up until 3:00 AM putting that post together, but now we need you to repeat the exercise for another 30 teams -- so get to it!

Up taking care of sick child.

8 hours ago, Weave said:

You can’t judge it without comparing it to the rest of the league.  How did we do relative to the rest of the league?

I don’t care what other teams did during the same period.  We had resources to do a good job and we either struck out on most of the picks or foolishly traded away picks for vets that mostly failed for us.  
To succeed we needed to get 3 full time players each year and have some non 1st & 2nd rd picks step up into top 6 forwards and top 4 D. So far only Olofsson this year qualifies.

With drafts 17-19 still developing, the hump of the rebuild, drafts 12-16 needed to produce 15 players for us.  We did produce 12 current NHLers, but that isn’t good enough especially since Zadorov, Lemieux and Compher were traded away.

Edited by GASabresIUFAN

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You can go back even further than that and see why the tank was a necessity in the first place.  We spent 5 straight seasons under Darcy missing badly on their 1st round selection, and trading away their 2nd rounders for utterly failed rentals.  Murray was quite bad, especially for a supposed scouting savant, but the tank was made necessary by a decade of awful drafting before Murray.

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8 minutes ago, triumph_communes said:

You can go back even further than that and see why the tank was a necessity in the first place.  We spent 5 straight seasons under Darcy missing badly on their 1st round selection, and trading away their 2nd rounders for utterly failed rentals.  Murray was quite bad, especially for a supposed scouting savant, but the tank was made necessary by a decade of awful drafting before Murray.

Draft analysis in 2018 rating draft results up to 2017 had Buffalo 11th.

You can’t blame them for missing on picks if there wasn’t anyone to pick. Casey is a perfect example, whether he hits or not, they had no other reasonable choice, that draft year just stunk.

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22 minutes ago, tom webster said:

Draft analysis in 2018 rating draft results up to 2017 had Buffalo 11th.

You can’t blame them for missing on picks if there wasn’t anyone to pick. Casey is a perfect example, whether he hits or not, they had no other reasonable choice, that draft year just stunk.

I meant in the prior decade under Darcy.  I agree about the 2017 draft-- Botterill didn't really miss, there wasn't much there.

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11 hours ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

IF you want to really know why our rebuild has failed, look no further then the crappy drafting done over the last decade.

Current Sabres

Forwards:

1st Line Eichel (1st - 2015), Reinhart (1st- 2014) and Olfosson (7th 2014)

4th Line Girgensons (1st 2012) and Asplund (2nd  2016)

Defense

1st Line Dahlin (1st 2018)

2nd Line RIsto (1st 2013) McCabe (2nd 2012)

Goaltending

Starter - Ullmark (6th 2012)

62 picks since 2012 and only 9 players on the Sabres from these 8 drafts and 3 are from 2012.  Exclude 2012 and we have 6 players and 4 are top 8 selections.  

If you count guys like Compher, Zadorov, Lemieux, etc.... it looks much better.

Compher specifically would be one of their better middle 6 guys if he was here.

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51 minutes ago, tom webster said:

Draft analysis in 2018 rating draft results up to 2017 had Buffalo 11th.

You can’t blame them for missing on picks if there wasn’t anyone to pick. Casey is a perfect example, whether he hits or not, they had no other reasonable choice, that draft year just stunk.

That draft year did not "just stink".  I would agree that Mitts was the logical choice at 8. There is a lot of talent from round 1 in that draft.

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5 minutes ago, LGR4GM said:

That draft year did not "just stink".  I would agree that Mitts was the logical choice at 8. There is a lot of talent from round 1 in that draft.

I'm not a fan of these types of discussions.... judging a GM based strictly on the picks, there are many proposed moves up and down the draft board that we just don't have information on.

For example, the Mittlestadt draft, my hope was they moved up to take Makar... he was such a great looking prospect and he would've filled a need as well.    What would it have taken to move up 4 spots?  Was that spot even available for trade?   Who knows!

The Reinhart draft, my hope was Ekblad slipped to 2, otherwise trade down which puts guys like Draisaitl, Larkin, Pastrnak into play... plus whatever other picks you could acquire... who knows if that was even an option?   Reinhart's skating was a big concern of mine as the league was heading into a new era of speedy agile skaters.   

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21 minutes ago, pi2000 said:

I'm not a fan of these types of discussions.... judging a GM based strictly on the picks, there are many proposed moves up and down the draft board that we just don't have information on.

For example, the Mittlestadt draft, my hope was they moved up to take Makar... he was such a great looking prospect and he would've filled a need as well.    What would it have taken to move up 4 spots?  Was that spot even available for trade?   Who knows!

The Reinhart draft, my hope was Ekblad slipped to 2, otherwise trade down which puts guys like Draisaitl, Larkin, Pastrnak into play... plus whatever other picks you could acquire... who knows if that was even an option?   Reinhart's skating was a big concern of mine as the league was heading into a new era of speedy agile skaters.   

Draisaitl's skating was a big concern in his draft year as well. 

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Hindsight is 20/20 and every team in every sport can do this.

That said, some of Murray's picks are just getting to the AHL...I think it's way too early to be judging a lot of these picks.

How you can call mid-round draft picks from 2018 "busts" is beyond my comprehension and actually quite silly to me.

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2 hours ago, LGR4GM said:

That draft year did not "just stink".  I would agree that Mitts was the logical choice at 8. There is a lot of talent from round 1 in that draft.

Maybe stink was harsh but so far, and it’s early, there’s only 3 difference makers. Guys like a Thomas, Suzuki, Branstrom not doing much more then Casey yet,

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3 hours ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

Up taking care of sick child.

I don’t care what other teams did during the same period.  We had resources to do a good job and we either struck out on most of the picks or foolishly traded away picks for vets that mostly failed for us.  
To succeed we needed to get 3 full time players each year and have some non 1st & 2nd rd picks step up into top 6 forwards and top 4 D. So far only Olofsson this year qualifies.

With drafts 17-19 still developing, the hump of the rebuild, drafts 12-16 needed to produce 15 players for us.  We did produce 12 current NHLers, but that isn’t good enough especially since Zadorov, Lemieux and Compher were traded away.

You are basically saying that you don’t care whether your conclusion (that Buffalo drafted poorly since 2012) is correct, because the team is bad.

I would actually argue that they have done a decent job of finding NHL players.  What I think they have done an absolute ***** job of is finding high end talents without drafting them #1 or #2 overall.  Middle-Late 1st, 2nd, 3rd round hasn’t really been productive for Buffalo.  We are seeing this year what hitting on one of these unexpectedly very good players (Olofsson) can bring to a team.  Buffalo should have had a few more of those over the past 15 years, but they haven’t.

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Not to pick on the OP, but I love how another mega-thread gets created and y'all just start over from scratch.

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