Saturday, June 2, 2018

Quick notes on three '16 Sabres draft picks hanging in the balance

Published by, 6-1-2018

Buffalo Sabres GM Jason Botterill and his staff have decisions to make on three players from the 2016 NHL Draft class. All of them come from former GM Tim Murray's last class and all were selected in the lower rounds.

First off, a quick look at that 2016 class with those players either signed or deferred:

1st round (8th-overall)--F, Alexander Nylander. The Mississauga Steelheads winger made the jump right to the pros but has struggled in both AHL seasons as a teenager

2nd round (33rd)--C, Rasmus Asplund. The Swedish center was the object of Murray's affection in a draft-day trade with the Florida Panthers is under contract and will make his North American debut this season.

3rd round (69th)--C, Cliff Pu. Tore up the OHL with the London Knights the season after being drafted and continued his solid play after being traded from the Knights to the Kingston Frontenacs last year. Was signed to his three-year entry-level deal by Buffalo on October 23, 2017 which will kick in this season.

3rd round (86th) D, Casey Fitzgerald, 4th round (99th) LW, Brett Murray and 5th round (129th) D, Philip Nyberg are all in college at Boston College, Penn State and Wisconsin, respectively. No decisions need to be made on any until they leave college.

7th round (190th) C, Vasily Glotov. According to WGR550 Radio's Paul Hamilton, the Sabres needn't make a decision on him for two years because he's on loan to the QMJHL. Glotov has impressed every time he's hit the ice at Sabres camp. He dipped his toes in the pro game this season playing five games with the Cincinnati Cyclones (ECHL) and one game with the Rochester Americans (AHL.)

The three remaining players from that draft are:

5th round (130th) D, Vojtech Budik. At 6'2" 195 lbs. Budik has NHL size and the kid can also skate very well. He had 41 points (14+27) in 63 games for the Prince Albert Raiders of the WHL last season, but was it enough to convince the Sabres brass to use one of 50 pro contracts on him?

6th round (159th) LW, Brandon Hagel. Many in Sabreland thought they unearthed a gem in the late rounds as he tore it up in 2016-17 with 71 points (31+40) in 65 games for the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL. Kris Baker of called him "a bulldog" but since that impressive season his play has tailed off. Of the three he seems like the most likely to be signed.

7th round (189th) D, Austin Osmanski. The big, East Aurora, NY native looked like a token pick at the 2016 draft which was held in Buffalo, and the might end up being the case. Osmanski was projected to be more of a project player and he has shown year-over-year improvement. But the big 6'4" 207 lb. d-man might not have moved the needle enough to land a contract with his hometown Sabres.

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