Why not review last year's draft class and see how the prospects have improved and if our opinions of them have changed any?
1 (13), Drew Stafford, RW, U of North Dakota (WCHA)
UND: 42 GP, 13 G 25 A 38 TP, 34 PIM, +13
WJC: 7 GP, 5 G 4 A 9 TP, 14 PIM, -3
2 (43), Michael Funk(ytown), D, Portland (WHL)
Portland (regular): 71 GP, 8 G 22 A 30 TP, 84 PIM, +13
Portland (playoffs): 7 GP, 1 G 1 A 2 TP, 4 PIM, +2
3 (71), Andrej Sekera, D, Owen Sound (OHL)
OS (regular): 51 GP, 7 G 21 A 28 TP, 18 PIM, +9
OS (playoffs): 6 GP, 0 G 4 A 4 TP, +3
5 (145), Michal Valent, G, Sparta Praha (Czech Extraliga)
Sparta (Extra): 24 GP, 17-4-2, 2.00 GAA, 3 SO, .928 SV%
NED Hockey Numbyrk (2. liga). ????
6 (176), Patrick Kaleta, RW, Peterborough (OHL)
Petes (regular): 62 GP, 24 G 28 A 52 TP, 146 PIM, +15
Pets (playoffs): 14 GP, 3 G 3 A 6 TP, 30 PIM, -1
7 (207), Mark Mancari, RW, Ottawa (OHL)
OTT (regular): 64 GP, 36 G 32 A 68 TP, 86 PIM, +11
OTT (playoffs): 21 GP, 14 G 10 A 24 TP, 24 PIM, +11
8 (241), Mike Card, D, Kelowna (WHL)
KEL (regular): 72 GP, 10 G 35 A 45 TP, 85 PIM, +22
KEL (playoffs): 24 GP, 2 G 5 A 7 TP, 38 PIM, +6
9 (273), Dylan Hunter, LW, London (OHL)
LDN (regular): 67 GP, 31 G 73 A 104 TP, 64 PIM, +50
LDN (playoffs): 18 GP, 10 G 11 A 21 TP, 16 PIM, +5
I won't dedicate too much time to Stafford as the thread about him recently has been bumped. I'm slightly less opposed to him now that I was last year but I'm still not a big fan. It doesn't help that Meszaros has a strong debut season in the Dub and addressed a more pressing need in the organization.
Funkytown had an impressive season statistically with personal highs in goals, assists, points, PIMs and +/-. My understanding of his season was he struggled somewhat early but came on big time down the stretch. He'll be Portland's #1 guy next year so it will obviously be a big season for Michael and the Sabres organization. It seems as though his stock has risen a bit.
Sekera might have been the most intriguing pick in this draft and I know many of us were high on him going into the start of the OHL season. Again, anecdotelly, he also had consistancy issues as well as injuries. Sekera doesn't have ideal size but he seems like a kind of fiesty individual, maybe in the same way Afinogenov or Bartovic are.
Valent was someone I was willing to take in the 3rd and I was very happy with him as a sleeper. Impressive numbers in the lower Czech league and here's hoping he gets time in the top league next year (I don't remember the name, I can never keep them straight).
Kaleta, an Angola native, is one of the great pests in juniors and added a scoring touch this year. In retrospect he's looking like a pretty good asset. Mancari is a player that I'm really excited over. He's got a great combination of size and leadership with an ability to get to the net and get goals. A year older than most of the class, he reminds me of another late round unknown: Paul Gaustad. Mike Card had a bounce back year for Kelowna after a terrible draft year that dropped him from potential first rounder to not ranked. Dylan Hunter's numbers are gaudy but at his age and on the team he's on I think it's more of an illusion.
I may be in the minority here, but after Funkytown and Card's seasons supplimented with Ezhov's, Denisov's and Paetsch's years, I don't think the Sabres defensive corps is on high alert any more. Don't take me wrong, of that group I think only Funkytown and maybe Ezhov are potential Top 4 guys and they only squeak into that category and the organization needs to add either a legitimate top pairing prospect or young player at the NHL level but there's enough bottom pairing players to at least hold the line for a while.
Forward wise, we all know what kind of players this organization is peppered with in the Paille, Stafford, Thorburn, Gaustad, MacArthur etc etc etc group. Hopefully more top end players can be added to compliment Vanek and Roy but whether that happens a week from today is unknown. I'd like to see another goalie added for depth purposes.
I was very unenthusiastic about this draft last year. I like it more now. I'm not ecstatic but I think, for the most part, good players that can and have improve were brought in. Anyone else?
Personally I think we did great in rounds 3-9, but in 1-2 we dropped the ball. We could have had Meszaros and Lyamin instead of Stafford and Funk, and that bugs the crap out of me.
I still think Valent could be the steal of the draft. Those stats he put up last year were pretty damn good, and I expect alot out of him this year too.
I agree with you. This isn't to say that Funk can't turn out to be a serviceable guy from the blue/orange line. He has the size and talent, he just needs to get stronger. Valent seems to be a winner who's still a few years away. Sekera sometimes fancies himself as a forward, but looks like a decent pick. Overall, I like what we did in the late rounds with Card, Mancari, and Kaleta. These three could turn into good players with some seasoning (esp. Card). Kaleta is an absolute hammer, and Mancari's no slouch either. I'd like to see these guys in Rochester in 2006-07, with maybe Mancari getting a look sooner(?). I'm really curious to see if Hunter can produce on a non-super team. I have my doubts (ECHL), but I'm hoping for the best.
I definitely see Kaleta possibly taking on an Adam Mair-esque role in 2-3 years, which is awesome value for the 6th round.
I'm also extremely high on Sekera possibly turning into a Timonen-type player in a few years.
Out of Card, Mancari, and Hunter... I think if we were to do the draft over with hindsight, they would all be selected higher than where Buffalo took them. If 1 out of the 3 could stick in the NHL (which I think is entirely possible), we could have a good haul. I'm just going to pretend we didn't have a 1st and 2nd round picks because I don't see either of them making it to the NHL for more than a few games. Total draft grade so far would be a 7.6 out of 10, and rounds 3-9 I'd grade around 9.2 out of 10.