So how does a center ice corps of Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart, Mikhail Grigorenko and Johan Larsson sound? Well, considering only two of the four can legally drink in New York State, pretty young. And considering the top end of that group, pretty darn promising. As a group, Buffalo will continue to take its lumps as the Sabres continue through a painful rebuild. When you finish 30th in the NHL in successive seasons, the rewards at the draft are potentially astronomical. Even with Eichel, the Sabres will still finish near the bottom, meaning they’ll be getting another gem in 2016.
Round 1, pick 2
Round 1, pick 21
Round 2, pick 31
Round 2, pick 51
Round 4, pick 92
Round 5, pick 122
Round 6, pick 152
Round 7, pick 182
Buffalo’s future on defense is tied to Rasmus Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov, but if the Sabres are going to come close to competing in the next few seasons, they’re going to need depth, preferably in the form of a player who can help show the young blueliners the way.
After dealing away in succession three goalies in Ryan Miller, Jhonas Enroth and Michal Neuvirth, the Sabres need more depth and better goaltending to help the talent they’ll have up front and prevent the team from getting into too many last-goal-wins games.
After dumping salary at the deadline, the Sabres will have to get up to the salary floor. They have a lot of young players who don’t eat up much cap room, so they’ll have to fill things out with high-priced veterans. They have to sign or replace both goalies and have a number of young forwards who are RFAs.
IN THE SYSTEM 2015-16
Reinhart looked out of place in rookie camp and not much more comfortable in main camp, but he’ll be able to make this roster next season. Grigorenko has been maddeningly inconsistent and often drew the ire of former coach Ted Nolan. Rumors have swirled of Grigorenko bolting for the KHL.
DID YOU KNOW
The Sabres’ past two first-round picks have scored the winning goals in the past two world juniors. Ristolainen came through in overtime for Finland in 2014, and Reinhart potted the winner in Canada’s 5-4 victory over Russia in 2015.