The Buffalo Sabres held the number one pick in the NHL Draft for the first time since choosing defenseman Rasmus Dahlin in 2018. Adding a second first-round selection, general manager Kevyn Adams sent Rasmus Ristolainen to the Philadelphia Flyers.
He got back blue liner Robert Hagg, the 14th overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, and a 2023 second-round pick in return. Far from done, the team’s front office would strike another deal following the end of night one. Shipping out forward Sam Reinhart to the Florida Panthers, Buffalo acquired former world junior star goaltender Devon Levi and a 2022 first-round pick.
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Owen Power, D, University of Michigan-Big 10 (Round 1, Pick 1)
Isak Rosén, RW, Leksands IF-SweHL (Round 1, Pick 14)
Prokhor Poltapov, RW, Krasnaya Armiya Koskva-MHL (Round 2, Pick 33)
Aleksandr Kisakov, LW, MHK Dynamo Moskva-MHL (Round 2, Pick 53)
Stiven Sardaryan, RW, Krasnaya Armiya Moskva-MHL (Round 3, Pick 88)
Joshua Bloom, LW, Saginaw Spirit-OHL (Round 3, Pick 95)
Olivier Nadeau, RW, Shawinigan Cataractes -QMJHL (Round 4, Pick 97)
Viljami Marjala, LW, Québec Remparts -QMJHL (Round 5, Pick 159)
William Von Barnekow Löfberg, RW, Leksands-SHL (Round 6, Pick 161)
Nikita V. Novikov, D, MHK Dynamo Moskva-MHL (Round 6, Pick 188)
Tyson Kozak, C, Portland Winterhawks-WHL (Round 7, Pick 193)
Deciding on Power with the first pick, the University of Michigan standout posted 16 points in 26 games for the Wolverines during his final season. Upgrading their forward core, the team selected Swedish right-winger Isak Rosén with their following selection. Lauded for his skating and goal-scoring abilities, the Stockholm native recently scored seven goals in seven games at the World Under 18 Championship.
Recognized as a top-three player for Sweeden during the tournament, Buffalo rounded out the weekend by making nine selections on day two of the draft. The franchise was looking to upgrade up front after ranking 28th in goals for a year ago. Kickstarting their rebuild plans; the team added eight forwards to begin the final day. Highlighted by Russian winger Prokhor Poltapov, they also choose Saginaw Spirit forward Josh Bloom and Shawinigan Cataractes sniper Olivier Nadeau.
Best Pick: Owen Power
A mainstay at the top of draft boards, Power was the number one ranked skater by NHL central scouting. Playing two seasons with the Chicago Steel in the United States Hockey League before landing in Ann Arbour, the 18-year-old racked up 23 goals and 42 assists in 103 games. Helping lead Michigan to their second NCAA Tournament appearance in the last four years, he trailed only fellow defenseman Cam York last season with 13 assists in 26 games while being named to the Big Ten All-Rookie team.
A smooth skater with his 6’5″ inch frame, he benefits from exceptional hockey sense and on-ice vision. Possessing all the traits to be a top-pairing defenseman in the NHL, look for the Mississauga, Ontario native to be a mainstay on the team’s blue line for years to come.
Worst Pick: Josh Bloom
Bloom missed the 2020-2021 OHL season after it was canceled due to Covid-19. A member of the Saginaw Spirit, he racked up six goals and eight assists in 54 games two years ago. Known for his skating and high-end playmaking abilities off the rush, the Oakville, Ontario native can keep defenders off balance by changing gears in a flash.
Listed at 6’2″ and just 182 pounds, look for him to need to add weight to his frame to find success at the next level. Ranked as the 113th ranked skater by NHL central scouting, he has the tools to develop into a solid two-way player at the pro level. However, the franchise is heading into another rebuild as they look to stockpile as much talent as possible. Needing to focus on drafting the best player available, expect this pick to end up being a reach for Adams in the back half of round three.
Sleeper Pick: Prokhor Poltapov
Selected with the opening pick of the second round, look for Poltapov to continue to produce at the pro level. Spending last year in the MHL with Krasnaya Armiya Koskva, he racked up 25 goals and 27 assists in 61 games. Displaying a knack for finding open spots in the offensive zone can also lower his shoulder and drive to the net. Furthermore, he has the hands to maneuver the puck in tight while maintaining the reach to keep the puck away from defenders in open space.
Searching for point production in their bottom six, Buffalo received just ten goals combined from their third line last season. Capturing the silver medal with Russia at the World Under 18 Championship, Poltapov is skilled enough offensively to step in and contribute for head coach Don Granato immediately.
The Sabres continue to dominate the NHL news landscape as free agency is on the verge of opening. Already choosing to deal Ristolainen and Reinhart, the expectation league-wide is that star center Jack Eichel will be shipped out within the coming days. Headed for another retooling as they look to assemble for the future under Adams and Granato, expect the franchise to maintain a focus on addressing their lack of goal scoring and goaltending depth.
Helping to retool their roster during the draft, Buffalo added the consensus number one prospect. In addition to this, they built upon their young forward core after making nine selections upfront. Anticipated by many to be one of the worst groups in hockey during the next few seasons, look for their fortunes to begin to shift as they continue to add and develop talent.
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