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Terrible drafting reason for Sabres struggles

By: Kevin Collins

Drew Stafford's efforts are just don't matter because their isn't much help for him in Buffalo.

Drew Stafford’s efforts are just don’t matter because their isn’t much help for him in Buffalo.

After finishing fourth from worst in 2013 the Buffalo Sabres finished off last season with the least amount of points in the NHL. They have not made the playoffs the past three seasons and currently have the second fewest points in the league with a 2-7 record. Only Carolina is worse at 0-5 with two overtime losses.

Where can we look for answers as to why the Sabres are so bad right now?

Perhaps it is their draft picks. Since 2011, out of 34 draft picks, only four have played professional games for Buffalo. Understandably the 2014 class might need time to develop but having only two players from the 2011 class play collectively in only one season should raise some eyebrows as to what decisions are being made and who is making them in the war room.

One notable draft dud is Finnish winger Joel Armia, who has yet to develop in Buffalo’s AHL affiliate, the Rodchester Americans. He was the 16th overall pick in 2011. No player drafted after the first round has played for the Sabres since 2010. The later rounds are where teams build their depth but instead Buffalo is forced to spend money in free agency on depth guys rather than one established star.

And then there was the Ryan Miller trade. Was it strictly a cap move? Doubtfully. The Sabres currently have an $11 million surplus in their salary cap and next year, although the team is young and they still have time to re-sign their players, that number can jump up to $23 million. The cap space is a beacon of hope that will likely get drowned in the fact that Buffalo will likely have to spend money on depth rather than talent.

After getting torn apart by the sluggish looking Bruins a weekend ago in a 4-0 shutout that had Boston goaltender Niklas Svedberg literally relaxing and stretching, putting his arms up over the goal while the puck was sliding around the ice, it seems as though Buffalo might have already given up on this very young season. With only two wins in one month of play it’s going to be a long winter in upstate New york.

It will also be interesting to see how owner Terry Pegula balances his ownership duties between the Sabres and newly acquired Buffalo Bills.

Will he be able to get a sizable audience for both teams when the Sabres play on a Sunday afternoon? None of it matters unless the Sabres start winning, and that is something they have not been accustomed to in northern New York in a few years.

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Kevin Collins

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