How Did We Get Here?
With the draft coming up, I was taking a look back at the Sabres’ recent draft history, and it’s not a very pretty picture. If you take out Jack and Sam, who would skew the results, and ignore everyone from 2016 forward as too young to know for sure how they’ll turn out, there’s not much in the great player category.
Out of 11 1st round picks from 2005 through 2013, there are only two who are still with the team — Risto and Gus. The Sabres’ 2005 and 2006 1st round picks (Marek Zagrapan and Dennis Persson) never played an NHL game, and the Sabres didn’t have a 1st round pick in 2007. But three times during this period the Sabres had two 1st round picks, so that leaves us with nine 1st round picks from 2008 through 2013.
Things could’ve gone differently with those nine picks. In 2008, we could’ve drafted Erik Karlsson and John Carlson. In 2009 we could’ve had Chris Kreider. In 2010, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Brock Nelson were still available when the Sabres picked. In 2011 the Sabres could’ve gone way off the board and picked Nikita Kucherov. In 2012, how about Tom Wilson and Andrei Vasilevskiy instead of Grigorenko and Girgensons — maybe we’re all drinking beer from the Stanley Cup right now if we had those two!
Of course, the Sabres could’ve done even worse than they actually did too. They could’ve picked Samuel Morin or Emile Poirier or Morgan Klimchuk. All this is not to dampen your enthusiasm for the upcoming draft, it’s just to point out that picking kids is an inexact science and you never really know for sure how they’ll turn out three or five or 13 years down the line. The #1 pick doesn’t necessarily get you the best player and a first-round pick doesn’t necessarily even get you an NHL player. You just never know for sure.
So, what do you think? Out of the nine 1st rounders that the Sabres did pick, who was the best? The question here isn’t so much who was the best Sabre—since some weren’t here very long—but who was the best player that the Sabres picked in the 1st round during this time, even if they became their best with another team (and defining “best” relative to the other players on the list, not compared to who they could’ve picked).
Thanks for voting! And feel free to expand on your answer down in the comments.