With their final pick in this year’s draft at 181st overall, the Sabres selected 19-year-old right winger Victor Olofsson from MODO in Sweden. The 5-foot-11 and 175-pound Olofsson has speed to burn, and scored 32 goals and 53 points at the J20 level last season.
Buffalo went back into the high school ranks for their 151st selection with Christopher Brown, the son of former NHLer Doug Brown. A center from Cranbrook Kingswood in Michigan, Brown accumulated a ridiculous 84 points (26+58) in 28 games this season. Brown has committed to Boston College, and is expected to play with the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers in 2014-15. His uncle, Greg, is a coach at BC and was drafted by the Sabres in 1986.
After having the fourth round off, Buffalo used their lone pick in the fifth round (121st overall) to take Max Willman, a left winger from Williston-North Hampton High School in Massachusetts. Willman, who will attend Brown University in the fall, had 44 points (21+23) in 25 games this season.
WATCH: WILLMAN MEDIA SCRUM
The Sabres went for a goalie with their first of two picks in round three, going to Sweden for 6-foot-4 Jonas Johansson at number 61 overall. Johansson, the second-ranked European goalie by Central Scouting, spent most of the 2013-14 season with Brynas of the Swedish junior league, posting a 2.32 GAA and .911 save%.
Brycen Martin became Buffalo’s first defenseman selected, as they took him with the 74th overall pick. The 6-foot-1 Martin finished second among defensemen on Swift Current with 37 points (6+31) in 72 games, while playing alongside Julius Honka (14th overall, DAL) on the Broncos’ blueline.
WATCH: MARTIN MEDIA SCRUM
The Sabres owned three picks in the second round to start day two of the 2014 NHL Draft. With the first pick of the second round, Buffalo opened the day’s proceedings by taking left winger Brendan Lemieux from the OHL’s Barrie Colts with the 31st overall selection. Brendan had a team-leading 145 PIMs along with 53 points (27+26) last season, and is the son of former NHLer Claude Lemieux.
WATCH: LEMIEUX MEDIA SCRUM
Buffalo then traded pick 39 to Washington in exchange for the Capitals’ 44th and 74th picks this year. With the 44th pick, the Sabres selected Eric Cornel, a centerman from the OHL’s Peterborough Petes. Cornel finished third in team scoring in 2013-14 with 62 points (25+37) in 68 games, often lining up alongside Nick Ritchie on the top line.
WATCH: CORNEL MEDIA SCRUM
With their third and final pick of the second round at 49th overall, the Sabres grabbed left winger Vaclav Karabacek. In 65 games with the Gatineau Olympiques of the QMJHL last season, the native of the Czech Republic had 21 goals and 47 points, good for fifth in league rookie scoring.
The wait is finally over - the Buffalo Sabres selected forward Sam Reinhart with the second overall pick in the 2014 Entry Draft.
Reinhart led Kootenay with 105 points (36-69—105) in 60 games during the 2013-14 season, tying for fourth overall in the Western Hockey League with Leon Draisaitl (No. 4-ranked North American Skater) of the Prince Albert Raiders.
He also led his team with 23 points in 13 playoff games (6-17—23), advancing three rounds before Kootenay fell to the Portland Winterhawks in the Western Conference Championship.
AUDIO: REINHART REACTS TO BEING DRAFTED
Kris Baker of SabresProspects.com
There is little flash to Reinhart's game, but the lack of sizzle is made up with consistent smarts, vision and character that puts the productive pivot among the elite forwards in the 2014 draft class. He can slow it down and speed it up, and his ability to see open passing lanes is a skill that cannot be taught.
The Hockey News
On a disappointing Canadian WJC team, Reinhart was one of the best and more consistent forwards, behind Ottawa Curtis Lazar. “He’s so smart that it makes up for his weaknesses,” said one scout. “He takes away space and uses his angles. He’s a good enough skater, deadly on the power play and his linemates get five or six chances a game because of him.
A lot has changed since Larry Playfair was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in 1978.
When Playfair was selected 13th overall by the Sabres that year, the 22-round Amateur Draft was held in a ballroom at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal. (This was the last draft to be referred to as the Amateur Draft. It became known as the Entry Draft in 1979.)
There was no television coverage or social media. There were no prospects or fans in the room, just representatives from the league’s 17 teams.
When the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft takes place on Friday at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, the building will be full of aspiring NHLers and their families, and fans will be able to watch the live television broadcast in the United States and Canada.
The draft is now just a seven-round affair, with rounds two through seven expected to be rundown in under four hours on Saturday starting at 10 a.m.
More than 14,000 free tickets were available for both days of this year’s draft, and they were gone instantly. There’s now a waiting list in Philadelphia for people to come watch future hockey players not play hockey in a building with no ice.
Playfair, who grew up in British Columbia, recently shared his draft day experience with Sabres.com. It really goes to show just how much the draft process has changed in 36 years.
“My agent Peter Smith called me at 7:30 a.m. (PDT) to let me know I’d been drafted.
I borrowed my mom’s car and left the house to go tell my dad. He worked for the town as the superintendent, and I found him fixing someone’s water line about three blocks away.
Later on that morning, I was out at a friend’s shop changing the motor in my pick-up truck when the office called the shop. It was around 12:30 p.m., and they announced over the shop’s PA system that Sabres GM Punch Imlach was on the phone and he wanted to talk to me.
The first reporter I spoke to that day was Warner Hessler from The Courier-Express; he called me on the phone later that afternoon.”
Playfair went on to play 688 games over 12 seasons with Buffalo and Los Angeles.
PHILADELPHIA – The blockbuster trade that saw Wayne Gretzky go from Edmonton to Los Angeles in 1988 sent shockwaves through the sports world. It also made hockey cool in Southern California, spawning the growth of the game at all levels. One of the residual effects from that growth should hear his name called in the first round of the NHL Draft on Friday night.
Thatcher Demko, NHL Central Scouting’s top-rated goalie, was born seven years after the Gretzky trade in San Diego. He grew up playing minor hockey for the San Diego Junior Gulls and Los Angeles Junior Kings. The 6-foot-4 Demko is now a standout at Boston College, and is expected to be the starter for Team USA at the 2015 World Junior Championship.
Demko, who still calls San Diego home, is the first to admit that without the Gretzky trade, there’s probably a very good chance he’d be doing something else.
“I remember my dad telling me that before Gretzky came, there was no hockey in the state,” Demko said on Thursday. “Then there was that boom so to speak when he got there, and clubs started forming. You’ve got to think that without him coming to Los Angeles, I probably wouldn’t have gotten into hockey.”
Demko credits his father, Brenton, – who has dual U.S. and Canadian citizenship – for instilling his passion for hockey.
“Ever since I can remember I’ve always wanted to play goalie, but I couldn’t tell you why,” Demko said with a smile. “It was my dad who gave me that kick into the sport that I needed. He has supported me ever since, always buying me gear. He was always trying to find me the cheapest gear that he could when I was growing up, probably so he could still pay the mortgage. He was always doing what he could for me to play, and I still appreciate that.”