The Sabres enter the NHL Draft Lottery with the best odds at the top selection for the fourth time in the last eight years.
Buffalo boasts a 16.6% chance at the first overall selection, a 15% chance at second, and a 68.4% chance of picking 3rd overall.
With new changes to the lottery this year, the Sabres can pick no worse than 3rd overall.
How to watch 📺
Date: Wednesday, June 2
Time: 7 p.m. ET
TV channel: NBCSN, NHL Network, Sportsnet CA
The Power is in your hands; defenseman or a forward?
Despite no clear consensus throughout the season, one player has begun to emerge at the top in Owen Power. While the likes of Beniers, Luke Hughes and William Eklund have been mentioned as the potential top pick, the smooth, hulking Power was unanimously ranked #1 in Bob McKenzie’s April survey of NHL scouts. He’s done nothing to potentially diminish his stock since the ranking, enjoying a nice tournament thus far with Team Canada at the IIHF World Championships. It’s hard to imagine a scenario right now where he doesn’t go first.
But is it the right move? And would it be the right move for the Sabres specifically?
How much of a risk would it be to go against the grain — taking a forward like Beniers or Eklund?
- A pair of our draft analysts would be on board with the Sabres selecting Power:
“There wouldn’t be anything wrong with taking Power #1 because I do think he is the real deal, but i’m on the side of taking a forward if the Sabres get the top pick. Buffalo has decent defensive prospects and could get-by taking a defenseman later in the draft. Given their need for high-end forward prospects, it makes sense to go in that direction. Especially given the debate about the the number one prospect in this class.“
“The Sabres should plain and simply take the player who they feel is the best player in the draft if they win the lottery. There are holes at all positions in their prospect pool and defense is still a need — although it would be a controversial pick. With the current state of the organization, they should just pick the best player available.“
- On the other hand, one feels Power would be a reach for Buffalo:
“They should not take Power at #1, plain and simple. I think the consensus are caught up too much in what Power could be instead of what he is now. There’s a floor/ceiling combination with Power that is wide enough to scare me off taking him at 1, even though he’s a good prospect. With the forwards at the top of this class, they offer a greater chance of panning out into a top line player with low risk.“
- Another would be comfortable with the selection, despite preferring other players:
“I have some forwards rated higher than Owen Power on my personal draft board, but Power is looking like the consensus #1 overall pick on draft day. I do think there are some forward sat the top who may end up having better NHL careers. However, Power is still a high-end prospect who is a safe bet to become an effective NHLer.“
An interesting dynamic to Power discussion is the debate of whether to take a forward or defenseman in general. Even if the Sabres pick 2nd or 3rd, choosing between the likes of Luke Hughes (D), William Eklund (F) and Matthew Beniers (F) will stir some debate.
With Jack Eichel’s future up in the air, we posed the question: What effect does a potential Eichel trade have on your desired pick?
- Two analysts agree that an Eichel trade should not effect the Sabres selection:
“It’s still going to “best player available” like always. The team is clicking the reset button with an Eichel move and will likely enter another multi-year rebuild. The last place Sabres need to just accumulate as much talent as they can as every position is a position of need at this point.“
“Regardless of whether or not Eichel is traded, I am not changing the way I approach this draft. Take a forward at one, two, or three no matter what and don’t look back. I subscribe to the ‘taking the best player available’ mindset and this year, the top two players are forwards. The nice thing with Power being a consensus #1 by most is that even if they do lose the lotto, both of those forwards will likely be available to Buffalo.“
- One says passing on a forward here doesn’t matter, the Sabres will have their crack at them in upcoming drafts regardless:
“A potential Eichel trade shouldn’t really have an effect on who the Sabres pick in the first round. If they are going to trade Eichel, they’re likely going to be in-the-running to pick high in 2022 and 2023 — where there are potential franchise changing forwards at the top of the draft.“
- On the flip side, one scout feels an Eichel trade could actually make them more inclined to take a defenseman, assuming Owen Power is their best-player available:
“A potential Eichel trade does give me some pause on my approach to the Sabres draft because it can be assumed that forward talent would be coming back in the deal. If the high-end forward talent comes from an Eichel deal then by all means you strictly go BPA regardless of positional need. I’d still prefer a forward with the top pick, but if the Eichel trade is fruitful then the pick becomes less important this year in my eyes.
How important is this lottery?
Regardless of how tonight’s lottery plays out, there’s no reason to overreact in either direction. Winning the lottery would be a nice way for the Sabres to embark on the forthcoming rebuild, but losing it wouldn’t be a killer. Depending on how things shake out, you can see that some of our analysts wouldn’t even mind dropping back a spot or two, not taking Owen Power at #1. Others would be happy to win it and take the consensus top player. It would be hard for the Sabres — holding our breaths — to mess up their pick here at any of the one, two or three spots. With the murky consensus at the top, they may even get lucky with their guy falling to their lap. More importantly, the organization needs to maximize the return from the looming Eichel trade and hit on the draft capital or prospects acquired there.
Wear your lucky socks.