Published by hockeybuzz.com, 4-10-2019
The general consensus concerning the prospect rankings in the upcoming 2019 NHL Draft is that it starts at the top with two players, C, Jack Hughes and RW Kaapo Kakko, who are considered to be the only two NHL-ready players. The next tier of players stretches from No. 3 to picks past the Buffalo Sabres who now sit at No. 7 after the NHL Draft Lottery last night. Buffalo, who finished 27th in the league, went into the lottery in the five hole but after the ping pong balls settled, two teams who finished ahead of the Sabres in the standings made the jump into the top-three and pushed the Sabres down.
The Chicago Blackhawks made the big move going from 12th-overall to No. 3 while two Eastern Conference teams moved up in the draft after the lottery was complete. The NY Rangers, finished one spot ahead of the Sabres in the standings (26th,) but moved up to the second-overall pick and the New Jersey Devils ended up going from third to first-overall.
The immediate impact of the lottery on the Sabres means that they'll have a pool containing two less players to choose from when the draft rolls around on June 21st in Vancouver, British Columbia. Sure, who wouldn't want to be in the top two or three spots in any draft but Buffalo landed in a spot where close to where the initial odds projected them to be. Prior to the lottery, the Sabres had the best odds (34.7%) of drafting sixth-overall with the next highest odds being seventh-overall (26.7%.) None of the remaining possibilities went beyond 8.7%, which was for the second-overall pick.
Although it's no consolation for missing out on two NHL-ready 18 yr. olds and picking where the consensus odds said you would to begin with, they'll be getting a good player at No. 7. How good depends upon a number of factors as to how they fit into the overall team concept and how they develop within the organization. In Sabreland under general manager Jason Botterill, proper development is a key area of focus moving forward and unless the players they select seventh-overall wows them this summer and at camp, they're probably at least a year away, maybe more dependent upon their progress which includes their physical stature.
While looking through some of the early rankings, projections and mock drafts these are names (all forwards) that seem to be popping up most consistently in and around No. 7 (in no particular order) Dylan Cozens, Matthew Boldy, Kirby Dach, Peyton Krebs and Trevor Zegras. There are two names that consistently appear in the top-five or six--C, Alex Turcotte and D, Bowen Byram--who could potentially slide down to Buffalo if another team goes off the board. Another player is 17 yr. old Russian winger Vasili Podkolzin, who some are considering a bit of a wild card because of a perceived "Russian factor." Most post-lottery mocks have him going No. 3 to Chicago.
For us in Sabreland, here's a quick rundown of the players who look to be in Buffalo's wheelhouse come draft day using quick hits from Steve Kournianos of The Draft Analyst plus some further analysis via insight from Mike Morreale, Adam Kimelman and Guillaume Lepage from NHL.com:
C/LW Dylan Cozens, 6'3"180 lbs. (Lethbridge, WHL)
"A versatile player who scores in the clutch and has an infectious attitude as a team leader. Can impact the game which includes playing the wing as a sniper."--Kourianos
"A strong skater for his size, which allows him to play at a high pace. He's also proven to be a consistent net-front presence in the offensive zone."--nhl.com
LW Matthew Boldy, 6'2" 192 lbs. (USA U-18, NTDB)
"An exceptional 200-foot player who sacrifices points in favor of proper positioning. Has a mature frame, powerful stride, excellent shot and possesses one of the highest hockey IQ's of any prospect."--Kournianos
"Is and excellent skater with quick and mobility to create offense on the rush. He's very creative with an excellent release and accurate shot. While he's best known for his scoring ability, Boldy is able to do just about anything on the ice."--nhl.com
C, Kirby Dach, 6'4" 197 lbs. (Saskatoon, WHL)
"An exceptional set-up man with size who reads the play as well as anyone and competes hard every shift."--Kournianos
"A right-handed center with Dach's size, strength, playmaking ability and maturity doesn't come around very often. He can make plays at full speed and has a good scoring touch."--nhl.com
C, Peyton Krebs, 5'11" 180 lbs. (Kootenay, WHL)
"Gives off a Bo Horvat kind of vibe thanks to his leadership, vision and ability to carry a thin roster."--Kournianos
"An elite two-way player who can serve as an offensive threat or shutdown player. Is dynamic and always in motion making him a constant offensive threat."--nhl.com
C, Trevor Zegras, 6'0" 169 lbs. (USA U-18, NTDP)
"Has jaw-dropping vision and playmaking ability similar to Matthew Barzal or even Hughes himself."--Kournianos
"Scouts have been impressed by his vision and patience with the puck, his skating is spectacular, he can find seams in the defense, knows when to shoot, has got deception to his game and is fearless."--nhl.com