FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Their list has been finalized and the Buffalo Sabres scouting staff is ready for the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft.
The Sabres hold the second and 21st picks in the first round as well as the two picks (31 and 51 overall) in the second round on Saturday. Having options to either use those later picks or trade them for other assets makes this a very exciting time for Greg Royce, the Sabres director of amateur scouting.
Round One begins Friday night at 7 p.m. from BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida and with Sabres general manager Tim Murray in charge, Royce said you never quite know what to expect.
“Working with Tim in the past, he makes the draft very exciting,” he said. “Being on his staff, we’re not sure what he’s going to do, what he’s going to pull out of his pocket, [if] he’s going to pull some magic out of his pocket.”
Royce did say that the choice they have to make at No. 2 is pretty easy. If the Edmonton Oilers take Connor McDavid first overall – which they’re expected to do – Hobey Baker-winner Jack Eichel will be there waiting for Buffalo to call his name.
“[He’s] very exciting, a franchise player,” Royce said. “He does things that are unexpected, high hockey sense, unbelievable skater. He’s going to be a No. 1 center for a long time.
“…He has the confidence. We have the confidence that he could be the best player in this draft.”
Royce has not only been impressed by Eichel’s hockey skills, but by his off-ice demeanor and personality as well.
“As good as a hockey player that he is, he’s even a better person,” Royce said. “He’s going to be a quality guy for us and, I think, a future captain. Just a natural leader, no question.”
After the top two, however, is where the debate rages on.
“I’m just glad we’re not at three,” Royce said. “I don’t know where that’s going to go but it’ll be an interesting process and maybe Tim might be able to work some magic and get within that Top 10.”
If the Sabres end up using all of those early picks they currently hold, Royce is confident they’re going to be able to develop players who can make it to the highest level.
“I think it’s a very deep draft,” he said. “I think the guy we get at 21, 31 and even 51 are future NHL players.”