The NHL Draft lottery is Friday night and even though the Buffalo Sabres' odds are remote to draft in the top-three, it feels as important as ever that the lottery balls fall right. The Sabres have a 6.5% chance at the first pick, a 6.8% chance at pick No. 2, and a 7.1% chance to pick third overall.
Should the Sabres land one of the top-three picks, they'd have what would likely be an impactful franchise player. Alex Lafrenière, Quinton Byfield, and Tim Stützle would be as good a start as it gets for new general manager Kevyn Adams.
However, the chances are the Sabres will be picking between picks seven and nine. The odds of that are roughly 79%. Should that be the case, Adams will need to do a lot better at selecting than his predecessors.
In the first round, where you have to hit on your pick, there have been too many misses in recent Sabres memory.
It really starts in 2012. Darcy Regier, who was already on thin ice, took a chance on a polarizing Russian center named Mikhail Grigorenko. Big stats in juniors and filthy hands made fans excited, thinking they had gotten the steal of the draft. Then he showed up and everyone realized he couldn't skate. The Sabres selected a center that never had any business being selected 12th overall with his skating ability.
Regier then traded up to select Zemgus Girgensons with the 14th overall pick in the 2012 draft. It seemed like a home run early. Girgensons showed well in his first years after turning pro, and many thought he had the makings of a future captain. Fast forward a few years, and he has become a bottom-six role player. I'd consider that a miss.
The next year, in 2013, a pick was made that can be debated as much as the player has been himself. I don't believe Rasmus Ristolainen is the type of player you should be hoping for with an eighth overall pick. You want defensemen like Zach Werenski of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Quinn Hughes of the Vancouver Canucks, who were also drafted eighth overall years later. Ristolainen is an overused, second-pair defenseman, who is a trap that every coach falls into.
Luckily for Ristolainen, it's hard to label him a bust when so few great players were picked after him. Would it be nice if the Sabres had Bo Horvat or Max Dom