The iron has been unkind for the Buffalo Sabres who have finished dead last in the league in points three of the past five years.
Despite the best of odds at the NHL Draft Lottery, however, the team never climbed higher than second overall, settling for Jack Eichel instead of Connor McDavid, Sam Reinhart instead of Aaron Ekblad.
But Lady Luck, she favors the bold.
With a lottery-best, but less-than convincing 18.5% odds of securing the first overall pick, the Queen City was finally granted a fresh start as the Buffalo Sabres open the 2018 NHL Draft with the No. 1 pick for the first time in 31 years set for June 22-23 at American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX.
The Sabres selected first overall in 1970 when Buffalo came into the league selecting Hall of Famer Gilbert Perreault. Buffalo waited 17 years before taking Pierre Turgeon with the No. 1 pick in 1987 but the Sabres have fallen on hard times recently. Tanking in 2014 and 2015 didn’t pay off for Buffalo, which settled for the second overall pick back-to-back years, but adding projected No. 1 pick in Rasmus Dahlin could alter the course of the franchise and provide a big boost on the backend.
“We’re absolutely ecstatic and very happy for our fans in Western New York,” Sabres General Manager Jason Botterill said. “I think it’s been a good couple of days for our fan base. Now we’re looking to add a great player to our group here at the end of June.”
6-Detroit Red Wings
9-New York Rangers
11-New York Islanders
12-New York Islanders (from Calgary)
Last season, despite an 8.5% chance of securing the first pick, the New Jersey Devils were awarded number one in the draft where they selected Switzerland-born center Nico Hischier first overall.
This season, Swedish defenseman Rasmus Dahlin is the projected number one pick. The swift-skating, left-handed shot recorded seven goals and 20 points for Frolunda in 2017-18. Dahlin, who won a Silver Medal with Team Sweden at the World Junior Championships this year, says he patterns his game after fellow countryman Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators.
Russian-born Andrei Svechnikov is listed as the top scoring North American skater after spending each of the past two seasons playing for Barrie (OHL) and Muskeegon (USHL) where he piled up 40-32-72 and 29-29-58, respectively.
PROSPECT PLAYER RANKINGS
Filip Zadina, another European fine-tuning his game in North America, has been rising up draft boards after scoring 44 goals in 57 games for Halifax of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). Zadina shined for his native Czech Republic at the World Junior Championships where he scored seven goals in seven games to earn All-Tournament honors.
Forwards Brady Tkachuk, Evan Bouchard and Noah Dobson as well as defenseman Adam Boqvist are all highly-coveted and projected to be selected in the top-10.
— Karin Housley (@KarinHousley) April 29, 2018
The 2018 Draft Lottery marked just the second time in eight years the team with the best odds was awarded the top overall selection.
— HockeyClan (@Hockey_Clan) April 28, 2018
It’s a great day for the @BuffaloSabres.
— NHL (@NHL) April 29, 2018
— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) April 28, 2018
Written by John Christian Hageny / @JCCSPORTS
Special to HockeyClan
Main Image: Canadian ice hockey player Pierre Turgeon smiles following his first round, first place selection by the Buffalo Sabres in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft at Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, Michigan, June 1987. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)
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