With change in the air in the NHL as a result of the newly-signed CBA, the Buffalo Sabres seemed to get into the spirit of things at the 2005 NHL Draft by tapping several sources of talent that they had never, or rarely, looked to in the past. Leagues such as the USHL and EJHL had their number called by the Sabres for the first time, with the club also selecting their first German in many a year.
Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier and his staff largely focused on addressing needs in this draft, selecting a potential No. 1 center while also beefing up their defensive depth chart. The Sabres also looked to add some homegrown talent by adding a couple of players whose roots lie in Western New York. All told, the Sabres drafted nine players while adding another 2005 draftee via trade, with the breakdown being two centers, two wingers, five defensemen and one goaltender.
Marek Zagrapan, Center- Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL)
1st round, 13th overall
Height: 6’1, Weight: 198
With their first selection of the draft and the 13th pick overall, the Sabres chose center Marek Zagrapan of the QMJHL’s Chicoutimi Sagueneens. Zagrapan, a native of Slovakia now living in the Czech Republic, turned in a solid rookie season in 2004-05 for the Sagueneens, picking up 32 goals and 50 assists in 59 games. Zagrapan was ranked 23rd amongst North American skaters by Central Scouting Services (CSS), and ninth overall by International Scouting Services.
Zagrapan may be the skilled center that the Sabres have sought over the past few seasons. His stro Read more»
Sabres Top 10 Prospects
1. Thomas Vanek, LW
2. Derek Roy, C
3. Jason Pominville, RW
4. Drew Stafford, RW
5. Daniel Paille, LW/C
6. Clarke MacArthur, LW
7. Paul Gaustad, C
8. Chris Thorburn, RW
9. Nathan Paetsch, D Read more»
The Buffalo Sabres were just one year removed from an appearance in the Stanley Cup finals at the time of the 2000 NHL Draft. But the team barely made the playoffs in 2000, and, as a result finished in the middle of the overall standings, leaving them with the 15th selection in the draft.
With a roster that sported an aging Doug Gilmour, plus two younger, defensively-oriented centers in Mike Peca and Curtis Brown and little else at that position, the Sabres entered the 2000 NHL Draft looking to possibly upgrade their depth at center. The crop at that position, however, at least in the first round, was a modestly skilled group with no one player truly standing out. So, the expectation was that the Sabres would follow the tried and true “best player available” scenario in making that first round pick.
There was some thought that Darcy Regier and his scouts would be interested in choosing Czech center Vaclav Nederost if he fell to their position, but Nederost was chosen with the 14th pick by Colorado. With the Sabres pick up next, there were a few interesting names left unselected, including Russian winger Alexander Frolov, Buffalo-born defenseman Brooks Orpik, and Russian defenseman Anton Volchenkov. Instead, the Sabres made what many termed a “reach” by choosing center Artem Kriukov,, a large but largely unknown player in the Russian junior leagues. Kriukov had suffered a serious concussion in his draft year which limited the opportunities to see him in action, but the Sabres hockey braintrust liked his potential and felt that he wouldn’t be Read more»
In the preseason version of this listing of the Buffalo Sabres Top 20 prospects, forward Thomas Vanek knocked goaltender Ryan Miller from the top slot that the goaltender had held for some time. But the pendulum has swung back towards Miller in this mid-season presentation of the Top 20, with the two Rochester Americans teammates reverting back to their former standings.
This reversal is probably the most significant change in the top ten rankings, but there has been other movement in the lower half of the list that has a few new names appearing in the top 20 for the first time. Newcomers to the list include goaltender Michal Valent, a 2004 selection, and defenseman Nathan Paetsch, one of a handful of rearguards chosen by the Sabres in the 2003 NHL
As has been the case for the past couple of seasons, forwards have a solid hold on the top ten, with defensive prospects being better represented in the lower half of the list. There appears to be a solid mix of offensive players and grinders amongst the forwards, with Vanek, Roy and Pominville representing the former and Paille and Stafford amongst the latter. On the other hand, the defensive prospects seem to suffer from the lack of a real standout performer, while the group itself is characterized by more undersized players with decent ability. The goaltending is obviously topped by Miller, with the Slovakian netminder Valent having the potential to develop into a solid goaltendi Read more»
A quick reading of Drew Stafford’s pre-draft scouting report might have given the impression that the Buffalo Sabres used their top pick in the 2004 NHL Draft on a moderately skilled winger with a strong work ethic. To some, Stafford’s profile screamed “Barrett Heisten”, the Sabres 1999 top selection who, six years on, is still trying to secure regular employment in the NHL.
For his part, Stafford, currently one of the better forwards at the NCAA level, may have quieted some of the concerns for his game with a strong performance at the 2005 World Junior Championships held in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Perhaps it was a case of some home cooking for the University of North Dakota star, since the Ralph Englestad Arena where many of the WJC games took place is UND’s home arena.
Whatever the case, Stafford’s performance should have the Sabres hockey department feeling good about their most recent first round selection. They may even be feeling some pride in the play of two more of their WJC participants, Clarke MacArthur and Denis Ezhov. The pair turned in solid performances of their own, with MacArthur taking home a gold medal playing for Canada and Ezhov bagging silver with the Russian team.
Although his USA squad failed to defend their 2004 gold medal, Stafford showed that he is more than just a grinder with some ability. Indeed, the Faribault, Minnesota native finished the tournament as the team’s leading scorer and goal scorer. He finished with eight points (5 goals, 3 assists) to finish tied for eighth in scoring in Read more»