What should the Sabres plan be in the offseason?
Sabres awarded with no. 9 and no. 16 overall pick in the first round of this year's NHL draft, but what will they use to build up their roster?
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BUFFALO, N.Y. (May-11-2022) - Bill Daly announced the Montreal Canadians as the winner of the 2022 NHL Draft Lottery. However, for Sabres fans, this means they have to watch a division rival select a potential superstar player.
The Canadians are likely to take OHL star Shane Wright out of Kingston. The 18-year-old center broke Connor McDavid's record of points per game in his 2019 rookie season.
While the Sabres missed a chance at drafting an instant impact center, they still have plenty of options with their three first round draft picks. The team has one draft pick along with two acquired in trades with Florida and Las Vegas respectively.
The Sabres entered the lottery with a 5% chance of winning the first pick, instead the team got placed with the no. 9 and no. 16 overall picks in the first round. This gives general manager Kevyn Adams a wide range of options on what to do on July 7.
According to mock drafts, the Sabres could select Joakim Kemell out of Finland with their top pick. The 18-year-old helped lead Finland to the bronze medal at the 2022 IIHF World U18 Championship.
Steve Kournianos, an NHL draft analyst, said Kemell is a confident puck carrier and a big problem for goaltenders as soon as he enters the offensive zone. He also said he has a hockey IQ at the same level as both Wright and Logan Cooley.
Kournianos notes suggest Kemell has potential as a winger in the NHL. However, the question is, does he look like he can play right away?
Going into this draft, the Sabres look like a different team than they were in the past few years, finishing with an unexpected 75 points. This resulted from breakout seasons by young players Tage Thompson, Rasmus Dahlin, Dylan Cozens, Victor Olofsson and Peyton Krebs. They also had help on the experience side with guys like Alex Tuch and goaltender Craig Anderson guiding the team's young core.
Despite the improvement, Adams and head coach Don Granato should look to add guys that can make an instant impact on the team, rather than prospects who need a year or two to develop.
The team's young core stayed competitive throughout the season under Granato's coaching and can keep up with other teams in terms of scoring goals with 229. However,Goaltending proved to be a problem once again, with Anderson missing time due to injury and inconsistent performances from Dustin Tokarski and Malcom Subban. With Anderson's future unknown and Ukko-Peka Luukonen still in Rochester, the team should consider using whatever resources they have to add consistency to their goaltending lineup.
The Sabres have a lot to work with this offseason with $40-million in cap space. While time will tell if Adams decides to make trades or sign established free agents, the possible addition of Kemell could help the development of Krebs, Vinnie Hinostroza and other arriving prospects into players that can help the Sabres break their playoff drought in 2022.