The 2013 NHL Draft Lottery was held Wednesday and the Buffalo Sabres came out with the eighth overall selection in the 2013 NHL Draft. This is the highest the Sabres have selected since selecting Thomas Vanek fifth overall in the 2003 draft. The Sabres also hold the Minnesota Wild’s first round pick from the Jason Pominville trade, which would currently be the sixteenth pick in the first round.
The Sabres should be able to get a very good pick but not an elite prospect, unless one sees a precipitous fall on draft day much like current Sabres player Mikhail Grigorenko saw last year. The Sabres have multiple needs, especially if they end up trading either Thomas Vanek or Ryan Miller or both. So picking a player they need shouldn’t be a problem.
The Sabres roster is currently filled with scrappy but undersized forwards and puck-moving and unimposing defensemen. They are almost all offense all the time, which is fine when you have a goalie like Miller that can weather a maelstrom of shots from game to game. But what happens if they trade Miller? Backup Jhonas Enroth looked solid at times but will he be able to handle the workload the Sabres’ lackadaisical defense allows? Not to mention, if Miller does go, is the front office sold on Enroth as the goalie of the future or will they target one early in the draft?
The Sabres need more defensive-minded players on both offense and defense. This was never more evident than on special teams. The Sabres’ penalty-kill percentage was in the bottom five of the entire league and the Sabres powerplay led the league in shorthanded goals against. If the Sabres don’t get more defensive-minded players, it will most likely be more of the same in Buffalo next season.