The Buffalo Sabres were thanked for posting the league's worst record in 2013-14 with a draft lottery defeat.
The Florida Panthers snuck ahead of them in the lottery to grab the first overall pick. But recent draft history indicated that may not mean much for the blue and gold.
Draft history indicated that, whether drafting first or second, the top-drafting teams consistently get NHL-ready players who usually become solid performers, if not All-Stars. Here's a look at the top two picks from the last 10 NHL drafts. The Sabres figure to get either defenseman Aaron Ekblad or forward Samuel Bennett, whomever the Panthers don't pick. The past offers up that the Sabres will be fine either way.
- No. 1: Nathan McKimmon, Colorado Avalanche. He is a Calder Trophy finalist after scoring 24 goals and 39 assists while playing every game for Colorado. He also scored one of the finest goals of the playoffs in Colorado's first-round defeat.
- No. 2: Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers. he registered eight goals and 16 assists over 54 NHL games.
- No. 1: Nail Yakupov, Edmonton Oilers. He's spent his first two seasons in the NHL, scoring 28 goals and 27 assists over 111 games.
- No. 2: Ryan Murray, Columbus Blue Jackets. He missed 2012-13 with an injury. The blueliner had four goals and 17 assists in 66 games this past season.
- No. 1: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers. He has yet to eclipse the 20-goal mark in any one season, registering 41 goals and 91 assists in 182 NHL games.
- No. 2: Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche. The 21-year-old is already the Avs' captain. He had a career-high 26 goals this past season and has 57 for his career to go along with 77 assists in 199 games. He also had three goals in this year's playoffs.
- No. 1: Taylor Hall, Edmonton Oilers. He's eclipsed 22 goals in each full NHL season he's played, topping off with 27 in 2013-14. He has 92 career goals and 133 assists in 246 games.
- No. 2: Tyler Seguin, Boston Bruins. He had 29 goals in 2011-12 and 16 in the strike-shortened 2012-13 season, but scored only once in Boston's Stanley Cup run that year. He was dealt to the Dallas Stars last offseason, where he exploded for 37 goals and 47 assists in 2013-14 for former Sabres coach Lindy Ruff.
- No. 1: John Tavares, New York Islanders. The Islanders' captain had 24 goals this past year in an injury-shortened season. He topped 30 goals in 2011-12 and had 28 goals in 48 games in the strike-shortened 2012-13 season while adding three goals in six playoff games that season.
- No. 2: Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning. He's become one of the Bolts' blueline mainstays. He set career highs in 2013-14 with 13 goals and 42 assists whole going plus-5.
- No. 1: Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning. Stamkos has twice scored at least 51 goals and added a 45-goal season in between. Injuries limited him to 37 games in 2013-14, but he still managed 25 goals. He has 233 career goals in 410 games.
- No. 2: Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings. He's been the Kings' top defenseman in two deep playoff runs. He's scored double-digit goals four times, including 10 in 2013-14. He also went plus-17 this past season.
- No. 1: Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks. The Buffalo native has proven a key catalyst in the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup teams. He won a Conn Smythe Trophy in 2012-13 after scoring nine goals and 10 assists in their Stanley Cup run. He's scored at least 21 goals in every NHL season, including 29 in 2013-14.
- No. 2: James Van Riemsdyk, Philadelphia Flyers. A 21-goal season in 2010-11 was followed by a disappointing 11-goal campaign in 2011-12 that prompted his being sent to the Toronto Maple Leafs. The left wing scored a career-high 30 goals in 2013-14 and has 95 for his career.
- No. 1: Erik Johnson, St. Louis Blues. Three so-so seasons in St. Louis were followed by his being sent to Colorado. He scored nine goals and 30 assists in 2013-14 while going plus-5, only the second time in seven NHL season his plus-minus rating was positive.
- No. 2: Jordan Staal, Pittsburgh Penguins. He topped the 20-goal mark four times in six seasons before signing with the Carolina Hurricanes prior to the 2012-13 season. He has yet to surpass 15 goals since.
- No. 1: Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins. Injuries have slowed what yet might be a Hall of Fame career. He played his first full season in 2013-14 in four years and registered 36 goals and 68 assists. He's still tolled 30 goals six times and 100 points five times over nine NHL seasons.
- No. 2: Bobby Ryan, Anaheim Ducks. He worked his way into the Ducks' lineup near the end of the 2007-08 season and has been a mainstay since. He put up four straight 30-goal season before slipping to 11 goals in the strike-shortened 2012-13 season. He was then traded to the Ottawa Senators, for whom he scored 23 goals and 25 assists this past season.
- No. 1: Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals. Ovechkin led the NHL in goals in 2013-14 for the fourth time in his career with 51. He's topped 50 goals five times and has 422 career goals in 679 games, along with 392 assists. He also had four straight 100-point campaigns to start his NHL career.
- No. 2: Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins. Malkin has scored at least 47 goals twice and is coming off a 23-goal campaign in 2013-14. He's topped 100 points three times and has 240 career goals and 392 assists in 518 games.
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