Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com.
At one point in the draft rankings Sarnia Sting defenseman Anthony DeAngelo looked to be a sure first-rounder.
Central Scouting had him rated as the No. 10 rated North American skater while ISS had him ranked No. 23 and TSN had him 24th.
DeAngelo is an exceptional offensive defenseman. He's an excellent skater who can log big minutes. As his 11 goals and 42 assists in 35 games attest, he's a gifted playemaker as well as finisher. With number like that, and with a big drop-off after top defenseman Aaron Ekblad, he was well on his way to being plucked in the top-15 if not higher.
In February this year, DeAngelo was suspended by the OHL for violating the league’s harassment, abuse and diversity policy. He was said to have made a racist, sexist or homophobic comment at a teammate. For the second time.
There's room on almost any NHL team for a Kris Letang-type defenseman who could run the powerplay, distribute the puck, score and log big minutes. Yet, because of his red flags, there are very few who might be willing to take on the excess baggage DeAngelo's be bringing with him.
As of right now, the draftniks expect him to drop out of the first round all together with a couple of them having him at No. 31 overall. Right where the Sabres presently stand with the first of their three second-rounders.
Were DeAngelo to drop, would it behoove the Sabres to pluck him with the 31st pick?
Although Buffalo has a strong stable of defensemen in the system, like Kris Baker of sabresprospects.com pointed out, they do not have that preeminent offensive defenseman.
There are mobile defensemen and there are puck movers, but there is no pure offensive defenseman. In fact they haven't had one since Brian Campbell was traded.
At this point in time and with the team at least a year or two from respectability, grabbing a player like DeAngelo and having him slowly develop for a few years is not a bad idea.
Sure it's a gamble, but so is the whole draft process.
Buffalo has a number of character guys throughout the system. They have a number of steady defensive defensemen and players like Rasmus Ristolainen, Mark Pysyk and Jake McCabe who have a strong two-way game. And they have some players that are gritty and tough and who play with an edge.
But they don't have that offensive threat from the blueline.
Sure. DeAngelo needs to mature and he may be one cocky S.O.B. And, yes, the rebuilding Sabres organization may end up throwing away the 31st pick in the draft.
It's a gamble worth taking, though.