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Preparation Complete, Draft Saturday

Friday, 06.23.2006 / 12:00 AM / News
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Preparation Complete, Draft Saturday
Buffalo Sabres Director of Amateur Scouting Jim Benning and his staff have combed North America and Europe in an effort to determine the most talented players among the pool of eligible draftees in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.

After arduous months of preparation and a weekend of conversing with more than 70 prospects at the combine in Toronto, Ontario, the scouting staff is prepared to make its first selection in Saturday's draft.

"In today's game, we're looking for a player with good skating, hockey skills, hockey sense and character," said Benning. "Those are the four main ingredients we are looking for in our first-round draft pick."

Hockey skills are the basic the foundation for any developmental player: ability to handle the puck, passing and shooting. Benning described hockey sense as thinking the game, reading plays and functioning within a system on the ice.

So the 24th overall selection in the draft has been devoted to the best player available.

What about the team's other five picks?

Benning stated that Buffalo would probably focus more on positions where the franchise may be lacking some depth in the latter rounds.

During the 2005 draft, Buffalo selected Slovakian center Marek Zagrapan in the first round at 13th overall and towering right wing Philip Gogulla in the second. The team then used five of its remaining seven selections on defensemen.

"We always want to have young players coming through our system," said Benning. "We just pick guys that have enough talent with some development, hopefully can make our NHL team someday."

Buffalo's draft philosophy coincides with the team's philosophy on the ice and in the locker room. One of the most important traits for a player to possess is integrity.

"We try to pinpoint the hard working, character type kids that are team players," said Benning. "We want guys who can be molded together to create a team that cares about each other and works hard for each other.

"Given Lindy Ruff's philosophy of all players being reliable defensively and able to make plays in the offensive zone, we have created a mold of the players we are looking for along with character. That's the blueprint of the players we want to draft and we feel that's going to be a recipe for success for the team."

The age decrease of unrestricted free agency has put even more pressure on the Sabres scouting staff to identify quality talent. Buffalo will rely on prospects and draft picks to fill the void left by departing players in the coming seasons.

"With the new collective bargaining agreement, teams are going to sign more of their players and try to develop them faster because they don't know what's going to happen at the other end with unrestricted free agency," Benning said. "Development now becomes even more important. Going forward, you're going to see more teams signing more and more of their draft picks."

Proof is in this summer's signings. Buffalo has inked six of eight players drafted in 2004, including the 13th-overall selection Drew Stafford.

Said Benning: "The sooner we can get them into (Rochester), the better we will be in the long run."
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Gilbert Perreault, Andrew Peters and Sabretooth have been scheduled to appear at the Sabres' 2006 NHL Draft Party. Click here for more details.

SCHEDULE

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Hodgson 72 20 24 -26 44
T. Ennis 80 21 22 -25 43
D. Stafford 70 16 18 -19 34
C. Ehrhoff 79 6 27 -27 33
C. Stewart 63 15 11 0 26
C. Conacher 79 7 19 1 26
T. Myers 62 9 13 -26 22
Z. Girgensons 70 8 14 -6 22
M. Foligno 74 7 12 -17 19
J. McBain 69 6 11 -13 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
M. Neuvirth 4 8 2 .921 2.78
J. Enroth 4 17 5 .911 2.82