“It seems like the Sabres pick 8th every year,” read the top comment on our Instagram post revealing the Sabres draft lottery odds last month.
Well, let’s take a look:
2012 – 8th
2016 – 8th
2017 – 8th
2019 – 7th
2020 – 8th
Choosing in this spot every few years doesn’t feel great to anybody as it’s reminiscent of spinning your tires in a hole of mud. Every few years, new attempts at stepping on the pedal give a momentary jolt of acceleration, providing hope of an escape, only to sink back to a deeper position in the mud.
Obviously, the Draft Lottery was very underwhelming, but it certainly was not unexpected. The Sabres entered with a 39.5% chance of picking 8th overall compared to only a 26% chance of picking 7th overall. The odds dwindled to a measly 6.5% when talking about the 1st overall selection.
Albeit not quite every year, choosing 7th or 8th overall five times in the last nine years is enough to get your head spinning. Factoring in that the remaining of those four years involved three top-2 picks, one may be skeptical to find hope in the future of yet another selection in this spot.
Despite the Sabres questionable (to put it one way) draft history at this position, our prospect analysts insist that the Sabres should come away with a strong piece of their future given this year’s deep pool of players.
Here’s Curtis, Joe and Austin on the Sabres pick at eight, who might be available and a placeholder team selecting 1st overall.
Let’s get this out of the way: should the Sabres trade the pick?
Walt: I do not think they should actively look to trade the pick as this is probably one of the deepest forward groups at the top of the draft in recent memory. I feel like the fans and media sometimes overestimate the quality of players one can acquire with the 8th overall pick. Teams are typically not willing to part ways with a young top six contributor for a draft pick unless they are all in on a rebuild or there are some other unique circumstances. I would not expect a player of Anthony Cirelli’s caliber to be had in a deal for the 8th overall pick.
Where do the Sabres stand at pick #8? Who is likely to be available?
Austin: The lottery went as planned for the Sabres, the most likely scenario was 8th overall and that’s where they ended up. They’re in great shape to grab a high-end forward prospect for a starved pool.
Alexander Holtz or Lucas Raymond would be a great selection if they’re there, but I wouldn’t mind seeing them go for Lundell, who could be the most pro-ready player in the entire draft.
Walt: I do not think much changes in the Sabres’ draft approach. I think the only players that will be out of the Sabres reach at 8th overall are Alexis Lafreniere, Quinton Byfield, and Tim Stützle. The wild cards are the two defenseman (Jamie Drysdale and Jake Sanderson) and Yaroslav Askarov.
If 2 or 3 of those players go in the top 7: one of Rossi, Raymond, or Perfetti will be there for the Sabres at 8. How the top 10 picks in the 2020 NHL Draft shake out is going to be very interesting as there does not appear to be much separation in that 4 through 9 range in the NHL scouting community.
Curtis: I think that the names available will be Lundell, Perfetti, Drysdale and now Raymond after hearing some scouts express concerns over his skating. Lundell is such a complete 2-way Center already with a polished game that is NHL-ready in my eyes. He’s such a safe pick, but in a good way.
I firmly believe that Raymond is a top 5 talent, so if he falls to 8, it would be practically stealing. Raymond is an agile and dynamic player who produced very well on a per 60 basis in the SHL with minimal minutes for Frolunda.
He has an excellent release on his shot and understands where the high danger zones are. It’s Raymond’s vision with the puck and ability to be a playmaker though that really make him the complete package offensively. He boasts 1st line winger potential.
What do you think about a ‘placeholder’ team selecting 1st overall? The combined odds of a ‘placeholder’ team selecting 1st overall were the best in the league entering the lottery (24.5% compared to Detroit’s 18.5%).
Curtis: The NHL needs to end this format of teams outside the bottom 5 jumping straight to 1st overall. It’s absurd and they deserve to look bad because of it.
Walt: I know we are in unprecedented times, but this year’s lottery format was unprecedented in how unfair and unnecessarily complex it was. The NHL could have come up with a better solution.
Austin: From the league’s side of things it’s a bit murky. They set themselves up for a laughable moment and they got just that when a placeholder team won’t the lottery.
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I’ll be disgusted if the Sabres take Lundell…he’s a poor skater and will never be anything more than a 3rd line center.