Friday, June 20, 2014

Two top-40 draft picks to stretch out the pipeline

Reprinted with permission from

The Buffalo Sabres hit Philly in just over a week with four of the first 49 picks in the draft this year and are slated to have three second rounders at this time.

Over the course of the last two drafts they've taken 19 players filling up their prospect pipeline pretty well. Not all will make the cut, obviously, but there are still a lot of bodies in the organization to sort through over the next couple of years.

With a pretty good bounty of picks in this draft and movable assets within the organization, there's a good possibility Sabres GM Tim Murray will be able to move back into the first round and snag another first round pick using a little quantity for some quality.

But should they not trade up, the Sabres will ultimately need to go the college/European route to stash away some prospects and stretch out the pipeline.

Last year they did quite a bit of that by drafting two top-40 players in the second round who were slated for college--JT Compher (No. 35 overall) and Connor Hurley (#38.)

Hurely in particular was really stretching it out as he spent last season in the USHL. He was the youngest player in the draft and had he been born a day later, he'd be in the 2015 Draft.

He starts his college career this year by joining Sabres goalie prospect Cal Peterson at Notre Dame.

The European route is also a way that a club can give a team an extra time with a prospect before they need to make a decision on his future.

The Sabres used a 5th round pick on F, Gustav Possler last year. Possler will be overseas for at least another year or two before he comes to North America.

Even if Buffalo moves back into the first round this year, they may still be interested in taking more of a project player with a remaining second round pick to continue stretching out the pipeline.

Here's a couple they might look at.

D, Jack Dougherty, USNTDP

Just like the possibility of drafting a goalie early to keep that position stocked, the Sabres should also look to keep adding to their prospect pool on defense as well.

Buffalo has a strong group of youngins slated to hit the big club within the next three years, but there's a bit of a drop-off after that.

Dougherty is a lanky 6'2" 185 University of Wisconsin commit who can skate well and plays a strong all-around game. With his defensive game well grounded he's been jumping in on offense more without being a determent on the back-end. He also has excellent hockey smarts as he reads the ice very well and hits the open man up ice very well.

He'll need to fill out his frame some and continue working on his skating, but the college route will give him plenty of time to address both of those areas.

The Sabres have a pretty good relationship with Badgers coach Mike Eaves as he was responsible for the strong development of D, Jake McCabe who recently turned pro and there's no reason to believe that Dougherty can't develop just as well.

Dougherty came in at #30 on Central Scouting's list of North American skaters while TSN's Craig Button has him way down at #81 overall. Most think that he'll end up somewhere in the 28-35 range.

LW Anton Karlsson, Frolunda, Jr. Sweden

Karlsson is a budding power-forward who's been playing a rugged North American game in his native Sweden.

The book on Karlsson is that he gets his 6'1" 187 lb. frame rolling like a freight train, barreling into the corners with abandon while making life miserable for the opposition.

Although he's shown signs of being able to finish, right now his passing ability seems to supersede his scoring touch.

In a profile piece,'s Mike Morreale quoted Karlsson as saying, "I think the scouts see a warrior in my game. I'm a big player, big size (6-foot-1, 187 pounds). I like to hit bodies and just be a pain in the [neck] for the other team."

Karlsson may have the talent to become a top-nine player, but in the very least he looks to project out as a bottom-six agitator with some scoring prowess on the wing. Teams will have a few years to figure out his ceiling as he'll developing overseas for a few years.

Central Scouting has him as the #11 on list of European skaters while Button has him clocking in at #40 overall.

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