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by Rob Crean / Buffalo Sabres
The 2011 Entry Draft will be held June 24-25 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The fast approaching 2011 NHL Entry Draft offers a reminder of just how big a role Sabres draft picks are playing in the organization, whether it’s contributing to the success of the Sabres, receiving honors in the American Hockey League or playing for the Memorial Cup.  Four Rookie of the Year Awards in the last three years at two different levels of professional hockey is one sign of successful drafting.  Here are a few more draft-related items as we wait to meet the 2011 class next month in Minnesota: 

- The 2010-11 roster was built through the Draft, with 18 Sabres selections from nine different Drafts between 1999 and 2008 suiting up for the Sabres over the course of the past season.  The most well-represented draft class was the 2004 group, which included Drew Stafford, Andrej Sekera, Patrick Kaleta and Mark Mancari. 

- Among the draft classes between (and including) 1999 and 2008, the only year that was not represented on this year’s roster was 2002.

- The highest-drafted player on this year’s Sabres team was Thomas Vanek, taken with the fifth overall pick in 2003.   The lowest pick was Paul Gaustad, who was selected in the seventh round (220th overall) in 2000.

- The breakdown of this year’s team by draft year and order was as follows:
Ryan Miller (5th round/138th overall)
          2000: Paul Gaustad (7/220)
          2001: Derek Roy (2/32); Jason Pominville (2/55)
          2002: None
          2003: Thomas Vanek (1/5)
          2004: Drew Stafford (1/13); Andrej Sekera (3/71); Patrick Kaleta (6/176); Mark Mancari (7/207)
          2005: Marc-Andre Gragnani (3/87); Chris Butler (4/96); Nathan Gerbe (5/142)
          2006: Jhonas Enroth (2/46); Mike Weber (2/57)
          2007: Paul Byron (6/179)
          2008: Tyler Myers (1/12); Tyler Ennis (1/26); Luke Adam (2/44)

- Five of the 18 draftees were called up from AHL Portland at various times throughout the season while the remaining 13 played prominent roles with the Sabres from the beginning of the season.

Tyler Ennis was named AHL Rookie of the Year in 2009-10 while playing for Portland (Heather Harvey)
- The home-grown talent has manifested itself at the American Hockey League level as well, with Luke Adam giving Portland and the Sabres a third consecutive AHL Rookie of the Year this season as he joined Nathan Gerbe (2008-09) and Tyler Ennis (2009-10) as yet another recipient of  the Dudley (Red) Garrett Memorial Award.  All three players were drafted by Buffalo.

- This year’s top rookie, Adam earned the award with a 29-goal, 62-point campaign in Portland. He also scored three goals in 19 games with the big club.  In addition to winning the Rookie of the Year Award, Adam was also named to the All-Rookie Team and represented Portland in the 2011 AHL All-Star Classic.

- The hardware hat trick is even more remarkable when Tyler Myers’ Calder Trophy is taken into account. Myers was named the NHL’s Rookie of the Year following the 2009-10 campaign, the same year Ennis won the AHL honor. 

- Myers and Ennis, gold medal-winning teammates for Canada at the 2009 World Junior Championship, were both taken in the first round of the 2008 Entry Draft by the Sabres, making them the first pair of Sabres’ first round picks from the same draft year to play together in Buffalo since Jay McKee and Martin Biron, who were each selected in the first round of the 1995 Draft.

Marc-Andre Gragnani (Photo: Derek Philippon)
- Adam wasn’t the only Portland Pirate honored for a stellar season.  Marc-Andre Gragnani and Mark Mancari were both named to the AHL First All-Star Team.  Mancari led the team with 32 goals and 32 assists to rank among the top 15 AHL scorers despite appearing in just 56 games due to recalls to Buffalo.  Gragnani, meanwhile, led all AHL defensemen in scoring with 12-48-60.  His 48 assists and 60 points set Portland franchise records and helped earn him the league’s Eddie Shore Award as the AHL Outstanding Defenseman. 

- Defenseman Drew Scheistel, selected in the second round (59th overall) in 2007, was chosen to play in the 2011 AHL All-Star Classic, but was unable to play and had his season cut short due to injury.

- While the 2010-11 Sabres were buoyed by picks from ’99 to ’08, the 2009 Draft class had a successful year in its own right.  Zack Kassian (1st round, 13th overall) won a silver medal at the 2011 World Junior Championship in Buffalo.  He also registered 26-51-77 and 67 PIM in 56 games with Windsor of the Ontario Hockey League before adding 16 points in 16 playoff games.  At the conclusion of his OHL season, he was re-assigned to Portland and made his professional debut with the Pirates in Game 3 of the Atlantic Division Finals.

- Buffalo’s second pick in the 2009 Draft is still playing.  Defenseman Brayden McNabb (3rd round, 66th overall) and his Kootenay Ice teammates won the WHL Championship recently and will play in the Memorial Cup beginning Thursday.  McNabb ranked among the WHL’s top scoring defensemen this season with 21-51-72 and posted a +25 rating.  He also registered 3-24-27 in 19 playoff games during his team’s championship run to rank tied for second in WHL postseason scoring and first among defensemen.

Marcus Foligno (Photo: Sudbury Wolves)
- Marcus Foligno was Buffalo’s 4th round selection (104th overall) in 2009 and earned Second Team All-OHL honors this season.  The captain of the Sudbury Wolves and son of former Sabre Mike Foligno, Marcus registered 23-36-59 and 92 PIM in 47 games.  He was also a member of Team Canada's silver medal-winning squad at this year's World Junior Championship held in Buffalo.

- Gregg Sutch, who was drafted in the fifth round (143rd overall) in last year’s Draft, will also be appearing in the Memorial Cup as a member of the host Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors.

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