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by Chris Ryndak / Buffalo Sabres

NEWARK, N.J. -- The Buffalo Sabres decided to get bigger on defense with each of their two first-round picks in the 2013 NHL Draft.

With the eighth overall pick, the Sabres selected Rasmus Ristolainen, a 6-foot-4 blueliner from TPS of SM-liiga in Finland. General manager Darcy Regier and Kevin Devine, the director of amateur scouting, followed that selection up with Nikita Zadorov, a 6-foot-5 defenseman, who played with the London Knight of the OHL with the team’s pick at No. 16.

“The plan wasn’t going in to take two defensemen, but we had those guys neck and neck, Zadorov and Ristolainen,” Devine said. “Some [scouts] actually liked Zadorov better than Ristolainen. To get those two big guys was pretty nice.”

Buffalo then made a trade in the second round, sending Andrej Sekera to the Carolina Hurricanes for defenseman Jamie McBain and the 35th overall pick. They took left wing JT Compher.

“We had had some conversations with Carolina earlier. They had asked about [Sekera] and we needed to add a right-handed defenseman,” Regier said.

In the end, the Sabres ended up selecting seven forwards, three defensemen and a goaltender with their 11 picks.

Two picks, Justin Bailey and Sean Malone are Western New York natives. Defenseman Connor Hurley and goaltender Calvin Petersen are both committed to Notre Dame.

“It worked out pretty good. When we got the two big D to start off, we started concentrating on the forwards right after that,” Devine said


No. 8 - Rasmus Ristolainen
D (TPS, Finland)
D.O.B.: 10/27/94. Born: Turku, Finland.
Height: 6-foot-4. Weight: 207 lbs. Shoots: Right.

Devine on Ristolainen:
“He’s played the last two years in the Finnish Elite League. So since he was 16 years old, he’s been playing against men. Those guys are all 27 to 35 in that league … He’s got a good chance to play in the League next year.”

Ristolainen on his game:
“I’m a two-way defenseman, best in the offensive side. I have a good shot. I play physically. I can help the team on the power play and on the [penalty kill] also. .. I think that’s my goal, to play next season in the NHL.” Profile:
• He competed for Team Finland at the 2012 and 2013 World Junior Championships, totaling nine points (2-7--9) in 13 tournament games. He also represented his country at the 2012 Under-18 World Championship, recording three points (2-1--3).

• Ristolainen has garnered attention on YouTube for his nifty shootout goal (more than 18,000 views) and a hit that sent Jokerit forward Tomi Maki into the bench (more than 17,000 views).

• He began playing hockey as a five-year-old, but did not make the move from forward to defense until he was 12.

• Ristolainen patterns his heavy shot and physical play after Predators captain Shea Weber, his childhood hockey idol.

From McKeen’s Draft Guide:
“Top weapon is a heavy slapshot that finds its way to the net … No stranger to jumping to the attack – knows how to integrate himself into the rush and find productive trailing lanes supporting the play … Can be a smart, assertive physical presence – using his size advantage to bully the puck away.”

From The Hockey News:
“Ristolainen does have some offensive pop to his game and finished the season as the top-scoring blueliner on TPS, but evaluators would prefer for him to stay in his wheelhouse.”

No. 16 (from Minnesota) – Nikita Zadorov
D (London, OHL)
D.O.B: 4/15/95. Born: Moscow, Russia.
Height: 6-foot-5. Weight: 221 lbs. Shoots: Left.

Zadorov on his style of play:

“I think I’m a two-way defenseman. I’m a big guy who can a physical game. … I think Buffalo got a good defenseman … I just love to hit people and score goals.” Profile:
• In his first Ontario Hockey League season, Zadorov led all rookies with a plus-33 rating and ranked second among first-year defensemen in points (6-19--25), helping London finish first in the 2012-13 standings (50 wins, 105 points). It was the seventh time in the last 10 seasons the Knights have posted more than 100 points.

• In the 2013 playoffs, he led all defensemen in penalty minutes (36) and posted six points (2-4--6) as London won the OHL championship. Zadorov added two goals in the 2013 Memorial Cup, including the game-winner in London’s opener against the host Saskatoon Blades.

• Zadorov won gold with Team Russia at the 2012 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge (0-3--3) and also competed at the 2012 Under-18 World Championship, recorded two goals and finished with a plus-4 rating.

• He wears No. 16 in honor of former Russian star Vladimir Petrov.

From McKeen’s Draft Guide:

“A remarkably light and agile skater given his mammoth 6-foot-5, 230-pound frame … Transitions rapidly to offense, his mobility allowing him to jump into the rush and recover with relative ease … Erases opponents with mean punishing take-outs.”

From The Hockey News:

“Zarodov skates well for his size and though his transition game and offense improved with London as the year went on, what tantalizes most scouts is his frame.”


No. 35 (from Carolina) – JT Compher

DOB: 4/8/95. Born: Northbrook, Ill., USA.
Height: 6-foot-0. Weight: 165 lbs. Shoots: Left. Profile:
• Compher will attend the University of Michigan this fall, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Richard Meyer, who played collegiate basketball for the Wolverines.

• Compher was Team USA’s second-leading scorer (3-4--7 in seven games) at the 2013 Under-18 Championship, helping the team win silver. He also was the second-leading scorer (4-7--11 in six games) at the 2012 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge, again leading Team USA to a second-place finish.

• Compher won gold at the 2012 Under-18 World Championship as the youngest player on Team USA and contributed five points (2-3--5) in six games, including a goal in the final.

• In 2011, just before Compher moved to Ann Arbor, Mich., to play with the National Team Development Program, his father, Bob, was diagnosed with prostate cancer. After his father’s successful surgery and inspired by the support his family received, Compher decided to help raise funds at a NTDP game to benefit prostate cancer awareness: "I wanted to do something. There was so much support from all my friends and everyone in the town.”

• One little-known fact about Compher is that he modeled as a toddler.

From McKeen’s Draft Guide:

“Smart, tenacious forward plays an authoritative all-around game … His vision of the ice is exceptional – sees plays before they happen which powers stout positioning and strong puck support – in the right place at the right time.”

From The Hockey News:

“Quick and competitive, Compher has proven effective when the NTDP played against college squads, which is good since he’s committed to Michigan next year. He’s made the most of the opportunities that come with the NTDP’s unique schedule.”

No. 38 – Connor Hurley
C (Edina High, HIGH-MN)
DOB: 9/15/95. Born: Eagan, Minn., USA.
Height: 6-foot-1. Weight: 172 lbs. Shoots: Left.

Devine on Hurley:

“The fact he came out [of high school] and played with the Development Program and played with Muskegon [of the USHL] two or three times during the year showed me he’s serious about his hockey career … He has a chance to become a second-line center in the NHL.”

From McKeen’s Draft Guide:
“Speedy and talented playmaker … More a ‘pass-first’ type – who prefers to tap his stickhandling and passing prowess … Outstanding skater – with explosive first-step quickness and electrifying top speed.”

From The Hockey News:
“He’s seen as a smart, two-way player who can play in most situations. He’s also raw and will likely be a much different player in a couple years than the one drafted in June.”

No. 52 (from St. Louis) – Justin Bailey
RW (Kitchener, OHL)
DOB: 7/1/95. Born: Buffalo, N.Y., USA.
Height: 6-foot-3. Weight: 186 lbs. Shoots: Right. Profile:

• Among OHL rookies in 2012-13, Bailey finished second with a plus-22 rating and tied for eighth with 17 goals (17-19--36) in 57 games.

• Bailey competed for the U.S. at the 2012 Under-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament. He also was selected for the 2012 All-American Prospects Game, but was unable to participate due to injury.

• He spent the 2011-12 season with the Long Island Royals Midget Under-16 National Team, recording 21 goals and 13 assists in 22 regular-season games. Coached by Hockey Hall of Famer Pat LaFontaine, the Royals won the Under-16 Tier I National Championship in April 2012. Bailey posted three points (2-1--3) in the team’s 5-1 victory over the Dallas Stars Elite in the championship game.

• In 2010-11, Bailey competed for the Buffalo Regals. He had a goal and an assist in the USA Hockey New York District Tournament 16-Under Tier I championship against the Long Island Royals.

• He is the son of former Buffalo Bills linebacker Carlton Bailey.

• On expert guidance from his neighbors: “Growing up in Buffalo, we lived in the same condo as Matthew Barnaby, Michael Peca and Rob Ray. Barnaby helped me along the way with a lot of decision-making . . . It's good to have someone who has your back. He's experienced everything that I'm going to experience this year."

From McKeen’s Draft Guide:
“Tall, athletic forward … Best weapons are a stinging wristshot and snapshot that literally explode off the blade of his stick … Just scratching the surface of his mostly untapped raw potential.”

From The Hockey News:
“His potential and size tantalize those who evaluate talent for the NHL.” 


No. 69 – Nicholas Baptiste

RW (Sudbury, OHL)
DOB: 84/95. Born: Ottawa, Ont., Canada.
Height: 6-foot-1. Weight: 189 lbs. Shoots: Right.

From McKeen’s Draft Guide:

“A powerful skater propelled by a strong lower body … Generates a steady acceleration drive by pumping his legs hard and digging into the ice.”

From The Hockey News:
“Speedster with nice hands had a great second half [of the season].”


No. 129 – Calvin Petersen
G (Waterloo, USHL)
DOB: 10/19/94. Born: Waterloo, Iowa, USA.
Height: 6-foot-2. Weight: 183 lbs. Catches: Right.

From McKeen’s Draft Guide:
“A competitive goalie who relies on his size and raw natural athleticism … Generates an explosive lateral push – supported by quick feet and strong overall footwork.”

No. 130 – Gustav Possler
LW (Modo Jr. Sweden Jr.)
DOB: 11/11/94. Born: Södertälje, Sweden.
Height: 6-foot-0. Weight: 183 lbs. Shoots: Left.

From McKeen’s Draft Guide:
“Plays a brave and determined game – exhibiting a warrior-like mentality … Drives hard to the net and competes for every inch.”

No. 143 – Anthony Florentino
D (South Kent School, HIGH-CT)
DOB: 1/30/95. Born: Boston, Mass., USA.
Height: 6-foot-1.  Weight: 227 lbs. Shoots: Right.

From McKeen’s Draft Guide:
“Strong, hard-nosed defender … Militant and punishing presence – finishes checks hard, exploiting a thickly-built frame .. Hits show impressive timing and power.”


No. 159 – Sean Malone
C (USA U-18, USHL)
DOB: 4/30/95. Born: Buffalo, N.Y., USA
Height: 5-foot-11. Weight: 183 lbs. Shoots: Left.

Devine on Malone:

“[Malone] is a very good skater, very hard worker. Just a real tenacious guy .. Bright guy, obviously, he’s going to Harvard.”

From McKeen’s Draft Guide:
“Smart, spirited pivot with quick hands and explosive wheels … Throws feistiness into an energetic two-way game … Showed growing confidence in physical play.”


No. 189 – Eric Locke

C (Saginaw, OHL)
DOB: 11/21/93. Born: Toronto, Ont, Canada.
Height: 5-foot-10. Weight: 184 lbs. Shoots: Left.

Scored 97 points (44+53) last season.

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