Niagara Gazette

Pro Sports

June 18, 2012

Four early picks should give the Sabres draft options

(Continued)

BUFFALO —

–About four of the top 15 prospects experienced season-ending injuries, so scouts couldn’t get the look they wanted.

“That’s not a good feeling,” Devine said. “You have to go on their underage year basing what these kids did.”

–Three of the top 10 players are Russian, including winger Nail Yakupov, NHL Central Scouting’s No. 1 prospect. Big money from the KHL can make getting Russians over to North America an arduous task. Some bolt later on.

“They’re risky guys,” Devine said. “Having said that, at 12, if one of those guys is around, I’m not going to say I’m not going to pick them.”

The Sabres haven’t selected a Russian since 2005.

The draft is heavy on defensive talent early, a position the Sabres have a lot of organizational depth at.

“You could bide your time and get a forward with your first pick and maybe pick up a good defenseman with your second pick,” Devine said.

The Sabres’ emphasis could be on forwards, Regier said. Sometimes depth vanishes quickly, though.

“You can make a trade and effectively deplete what depth you have in any position,” he said.

Four early picks should make for an intriguing weekend.

xxx

Although Regier said the Sabres haven’t made any “final decisions” on forwards Brad Boyes and Jochen Hecht, it’s “probably less likely than likely” the veterans, unrestricted free agents, will return. Nothing is final, however.

Hecht, the longest-tenured Sabre at nine seasons, has battled concussions recently.

xxx

Forward Joel Armia, the 16th pick last year, should be at the team’s prospect camp next month, Regier said.

The Sabres had to keep the Finn, who’s serving his military duty, in Europe another season as part of the three-year, entry-level contract he signed Saturday.

Armia’s talented enough he could crack the NHL immediately when he comes over in 2013, Regier said.

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