The Sabres could have a number of players available to them at No. 7

Buffalo also has the 31st pick in the first round

Paul Hamilton
June 21, 2019 - 2:46 am

Photo: Paul Hamilton (@pham1717)

Vancouver, BC (WGR 550) - Welcome to the 2019 NHL Draft.

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The Sabres come into Friday night with the seventh overall pick and are pretty assured of getting a very good hockey player. It’ll be interesting to see if Jason Botterill looks for a center.

The Director of NHL Central Scouting is Dan Marr. He thinks this is a draft that has many good players, “This is a deep draft at the top end for the first 30, 40 players.”

The USA Under-18 team could have five players taken in the top-10. Marr has been around these players for a while, “This is a special group, we spent time with them in the beginning of the year and we had them all week at The Combine and they really live up to that projection of being a special group.”

There are four others from that team that could go in the first round. Marr said, “I anticipate that USA Hockey will have the biggest smiles on their faces on draft day because the number of players to go in the first round and the top three rounds and the entire draft I think they’re going to set a record for that program.”

Cole Caufield measured 5’ 7" at the NHL Combine in Buffalo. He’s the best goal scorer in this draft and Marr said teams will definitely be looking at his game and not how tall he is, “NHL clubs, they don’t look at size anymore, they look at good players, what they bring to the table and scouting has changed that way too, you dwell on what they do well and once you know if they can deliver, chances are they’re going to deliver when the get to the National Hockey League as well.”

It’s almost assured that Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko will go one-two to the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers. Marr said they bring different things to the table, “Right now, Kakko is a little more physically developed and that dictates the type of game that he’s capable of playing, the situations he gets used in and the results that he gets.

“Jack comes across more as that skilled, elite forward where you play the game with speed and quickness.” Marr added, “They both have some natural abilities and it’s going to be hard to say who is going to be better than who because they’re both going to bring different things to the table.”

Dylan Cozens is a big center from the WHL and he might be a top-five pick Marr said, “He’s a young man who’s still growing into his frame and he brings a lot to the table when it comes to speed because speed can help dictate what you do on the ice.

“He’s shown that he’s got the hockey sense, the scoring ability and every game that we were at, when he’s on the ice, he finds a way to generate a scoring chance.”

Most hockey men think the top-two, maybe three guys will play in the NHL this season. Most of the Team USA guys have committed to colleges. That doesn’t mean they’re going as Zemgus Girgensons committed to Vermont, but turned pro instead. Marr said, “It’s a men’s league, it’s the best league in the world for a player to get into the lineup, but you always find there’s going to be one or two players that are taken a little later in the draft that are in the right place at the right time and they’re ready for that opportunity to take advantage of it, so every year you start off with five or six players having a good shot.”

Trevor Zegras was a center that played behind Hughes on the National Team. He had 26 goals and 52 assists for 78 points in 54 games. Marr thinks Zegras can excel at both ends of the ice, “When the game’s on the line, depending on what the situation calls for, he’s one of the guys you want to put on the ice, but also he’s the guy you can depend on to put out there when you want to defend that lead and not let anybody get back into a game. He’s just a very reliable, team first type of competitor.”

The draft gets going at 8:00, but Brayton Wilson and Joe DiBiase are on the air at 7:00 and will bring you the whole first round.

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