I'm not sure if t's a good thing or a bad thing that si.com put the Buffalo Sabres farm system at the top of it's list. Especially when author Allan Muir said, "it wasn't easy to whittle down the top five clubs. Well, it wasn't easy to narrow down two through five. No. 1 was a no-brainer."
But we'll take it for what it is. SI is not alone in this regard as Hockey's Future has the Sabres up top and most hockey people marvel at the talent Buffalo has been stockpiling.
And Muir rightfully gives some credit to former GM Darcy Regier, mainly for drafting defensemen--Rasmus Ristolainen, Nikita Zadorov, Mark Pysyk and Jake McCabe.
AGM Kevin Devine who was Head Scout throughout those years, and his scouting staff, deserve most of the credit for their work. The highest pick amongst those four is Ristolainen at 8th overall. Zadorov was 16th, Pysyk 23rd and McCabe 44th.
Regier deserves a heap of credit, though, for dismantling his "core" and getting a huge return for them as a whole on the trade market.
Five core players--Paul Gaustad, Derek Roy, Jason Pomiville, Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller--were traded over the last two years. Add in some ancillary trades involving the initial return and it gets better.
Here's a look at the trades involving each player:
Paul Gaustad (2000, 220th overall) and a 2013 4th round (G, Juuse Saros) for a 2012 first round pick:
- The 2012 1st round pick turned out to be #21. That pick was traded to Calgary along with #42 to the Flames for their 1st rounder (#14) and their second rounder (#44.) The Sabres selected C, Zemgus Girgensons and D, Jake McCabe respectively.
Derek Roy (2001, #32) traded to Dallas for veterans Steve Ott and Adam Pardy
- Ott was traded along with Ryan Miller to St. Louis (see below)
- Pardy re-signed by Winnipeg
Jason Pominville (2001, #55) traded to the Minnesota Wild for C, Johan Larsson, G, Matt Hackett a 2013 first round pick and a 2014 second round pick:
- Both Larsson and Hackett are still in the organization and both may have a shot at sticking with the big club out of camp.
- The 2013 1st rounder was 16th overall. The Sabres selected D, Nikita Zadorov.
- With the 2014 2nd rounder (#49) Buffalo selected RW, Vaclav Karabacek
Thomas Vanek (2003, #5) traded to the NY Islanders for Matt Moulson, a conditional 1st rounder and a 2015 2nd rounder:
- Matt Moulson and Cody McCormick were then traded to Minnesota for F, Torrey Mitchell, a 2014 2nd rounder (WPG) and 2016 2nd rounder (MIN) at the trade deadline
- At the 2014 Draft, Sabres traded Winnipeg's 2nd round pick (#39) to Washington for pick #44 used to select C, Eric Cornel and a 3rd round pick (#74) used to select D, Brycen Martin
- Both Matt Moulson and Cody McCormick sign with Buffalo on July 1.
- The 2016 2nd round pick from MIN was traded to Montreal on July 1 for D, Josh Gorges.
- The Sabres still have the NYI 1st and 2nd round picks in 2015
Ryan Miller (1998, #138) and Steve Ott to St. Louis for G, Jaroslav Halak, F, Chris Stewart, F, William Carrier, a 2015 1st and a conditional 2016 3rd:
- Goalie Halak and Buffalo's 2015 third round pick were traded to Washington for G, Michal Neuvirth and D, Rostislav Kelsla. Klesla failed to report to the Amerks, was suspended by the Sabres and is now in Europe
- Ott is in limbo and there's an outside chance that he could return to Buffalo
- Both Neuvirth and Stewart are still with the club
While Regier was masterful at maximizing the return for his "core," new GM Tim Murray followed up nicely with some saavy work.
The bottom line is this.
The "core" players from the Regier era--Gaustad , Pominville, Vanek and Miller (Roy was a wash thus far)--plus a 2013 fourth rounder and a 2015 third rounder were traded for:
- (5) NHL'ers--F, Matt Moulson; F, Torrey Mitchell; F, Chris Stewart; G, Michal Neuvirth; D, Josh Gorges
- (3) Prospects--F, Johan Larsson, Matt Hackett and William Carrier
- (4) First round picks--2012 (Zemgus Girgensons,) 2013 (Nikita Zadorov,) 2015 (2)
- (3) Second round picks--2014 (Eric Cornel and Vaclav Karabacek,) 2015
- (2) Third round picks--2014 (Brycen Martin,) 2016