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NHL Entry Draft review June 28, 2011

Posted by calvin in Uncategorized.
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By all accounts the Sabres have had a pretty successful entry draft; if you were looking for one word to describe the process it would have to be ‘steal’ . Of course, all of this is on paper until the players actually prove it by cracking the starting lineup. In the NHL more so than any other pro sports, this does have a longer timeline. GM Regier and his crew have been enjoying a pretty good success rate of converting draft picks into roster spots, but at the same time those results are tempered by the fact starting places on the Sabres lineup might have been easier to have come by due to the grooming policies in place during the Golisano era, and the fact that Sabres were never big players in the free agent or trade markets thanks to their recruiting style of using retreads and bit-part players.

1st Rd – #16: Joel Armia, RW – While the Sabres were expected to go with the safe and solid pick of Mark McNeill to address the weak C position, instead they picked Finn Armia, who is not only a big body at 6’3″ 191lb, but is also a sniper of repute, and has been often compared to fellow Finn Teemu Selanne. Armia was a lock to go higher in the draft and getting him at #16 can be considered a steal. Described by the experts as a pure finisher equipped with an amazing set of hands and excellent creativity, he is expected to make the Sabres squad in a year or so.

2nd Rd – #46: No pick – Traded to St. Louis Blues at the deadline for Brad Boyes

3rd Rd – #77: Daniel Catenacci, C – Finding this former OHL #1 pick in the third round was definitely a heist for the Sabres. Catenacci is a speed merchant, arguably the fastest skater among all the prospects, and plays with a physical edge despite his 5’10”, 183lbs frame. A natural center who scores at a point-per-game, he has good vision, a quick release and fills the gap created when Paul Byron was traded.

4th Rd – #107: Colin Jacobs, C – More of a two-way forward than Catenacci, Jacobs is another big body (6’1″, 197lbs) who seems destined to be a checking line center who can score as well. Expected to go between the late-first and early-second rounds, Jacobs fell to the Sabres in the fourth round who gladly picked him up. Ironically, he only started playing hockey after being inspired by the Dallas Stars beating the Sabres in the famous ‘no-goal’ Stanley Cup Finals. Jacobs is a power forward and relies on his size to fight for the puck around the boards.

5th Rd – #137 – Alex Lepkowski, D – Keeping up with their newer trend of picking local kids as well as gritty players with size, Lepkowski is a 6’4″, 212lbs from West Seneca not ranked on the pre-draft boards. However he will drop the gloves when required and can fit into the Mike Weber mold. Many of the Sabres D prospects are of the flashy offensive kind and Lepkowski should be able to take care of business in his own end anchoring them. Should turn into a fan favorite if he can make the squad.

6th Rd – #167 – Nathan Lieuwen, G – The Sabres goalkeeping prospect depth has been looking thin, and this athletic, 6’5″ goaltender will provide cover in Rochester as Jhonas Enroth should be the backup in Buffalo this year. He will compete with David Leggio as both Brad Eidsness and Connor Knapp are still in college. Limited in his ability, he is destined to be a backup more than anything else.

7th Rd – #197 – Brad Navin, C – For a seventh round pick, Navin is more than just a depth player. Navin tore it up in the Wisconsin high school system last year offensively and made the jump straight to college, committing to the Wisconsin Badgers, without the almost-mandatory one year USHL transition. His all-round offensive ability (Navin also played QB in his high school football team) has the potential to to make him a late-round star.

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