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Sabres Fall To 8th Pick In Draft Lottery, Should They Keep Or Trade It?

June 26, 2020, 9:26 PM ET [1267 Comments]
Michael Ghofrani
Buffalo Sabres Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Sabres fell to 8th overall in the 2020 NHL draft lottery, an unfavourable outcome but not a disastrous one by any means. The draft is loaded with talent at the top, particularly at the forward position, where the Sabres need the most help.

The initial reaction from the majority of the fan base will be to trade this pick for NHL talent. That's certainly understandable as the Sabres are going on nine straight years without a playoff appearance, and if they don't make one soon you have to wonder how much more toleration they can get from superstar Jack Eichel.

The problem here is that pick #8 is in a word, awkward. You're not nearly low enough to say that you can't find someone that could one day be part of your team's core, but you're also not high enough to say that your odds are any better than 50/50 of selecting this player. The history of the 8th overall pick isn't very good, especially for the Sabres. They've selected 8th 3 times since 2013 and in all three cases they failed to select an impact player (no, Rasmus Ristolainen did not improve under Krueger nor does he need more time it's been 500 games). There's still some hope for 2017 draft pick Casey Mittelstadt, but his 114 games in the NHL were downright awful and his AHL numbers while solid, are probably not enough to say you can bet on him turning the corner any time soon.

While the 8th pick hasn't been an inspiring one for drafting teams, picks in the top 10 involved in trades haven't faired that much better. Here's a look at the top 10 picks that have been traded in the salary cap era.



8th overall has seen the most trade action, which is good news. However, it also features the most lopsided deal of the bunch and even though the Jakub Voracek trade was nearly a decade ago, it may have been one of the defining factors that drove the Columbus Blue Jackets into a more analytics driven approach. It was bad enough they gave up 8th overall and Voracek, but to watch that pick turn into one of the best two way centres in the NHL (the kind they could have used) is the kind of recurring nightmare that really haunts teams and fans.

The most recent example we have a top 10 pick being traded is 2017, the Derek Stepan trade.



This is the core issue with trading a pick like 8th overall. Simply put, because it's not anything remotely close to a sure thing, you're likely not going to get even a cap strapped team to part ways with cost controlled top end talent. The Stepan deal did exactly what the numbers usually predict will happen in trades like these, everyone lost. The New York Rangers received the 7th overall pick, who couldn't establish himself in the NHL and has recently opted to stay in Europe, and another player who would probably do well to delete all of his social media. The Arizona Coyotes received a player who was paid like a top line centre, but never once performed like one for them.


These are unprecedented times so it's hard to predict what the off-season trade market will look like and if the Sabres can entice a team to give up a young-ish centre with upside on a good deal then that would absolutely be the optimal play for them. If the best offers out there are Stepan-like deals, as desperate as they may be for a playoff berth, they should probably turn it down. If the Sabres want to add a mediocre place holder for the second line centre position, there are easier/better ways to do that than moving a top ten pick.

Thanks for reading!
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