Making Sense of it All

by Ryan

From John Vogl at the Buffalo News:

The Buffalo Sabres general manager coveted defenseman Tyler Myers, the 6-foot-7 defenseman who could fill several needs with one large appearance. But the Los Angeles Kings wanted a defenseman, too, and before they would swap spots with the Sabres, the teams had to make sure they didn’t desire the same prospect.

So Regier and the Kings’ draft head hastily wrote down their top prospects’ names. They made an agreement to show their papers at the same time. If the names were the same, the Kings were keeping the 12th overall pick. If the names were different, L. A. was canceling its deal with another team and would move down one spot to allow the Sabres to pick 12th.

The Kings wanted Colten Teubert. The Sabres wanted Myers. They got him, and the two-day draft was a success from the start.

That suddenly makes a lot more sense. Darcy wanted Myers bad enough to agree to trade the third round pick even if LA didn’t want the same guy. We may never know who that other team involved was, but even if they didn’t want a defenseman (although you would have to guess at that spot they did) Regier risked losing a pick for no reason.

However, for all the flack Darcy gets for his dealings with contracts and keeping players around, if he wanted Myers so badly I think you have to trust him. His draft history is quite impressive, and he hasn’t missed on a first round pick since Jiri Novotny in 2001 (Keith Ballard hasn’t blown anyone away, but he did draft Paille 20th in 2002.)

There isn’t much you can say about a draft class just yet, but you have to like that Darcy went out and got the player he wanted, as well as the fact that we drafted specifically with a nod towards the system. There are knocks against every player in the draft, but as a small market team with limited salary flexibility you absolutely must draft with the system in mind.

It is what made sole partnership with an AHL team so important, and why we even know Salty Pete the Pirate exists. The Sabres may not be extremely active next Tuesday on UFA day, but drafting a kid like Myers shows you how much the Buffalo Sabres believe in the way they do business.

Whether it is trust in video scouting, trust in your GM’s instincts, trust in the player, or trust in your minor league system; the progress of Tyler Myers over the next few years will show us just how “with it” Darcy Regier and the Sabres’ front office really is.

They blew us away coming out of the Lockout and were labeled as “ahead of the curve”. Now the rest of the pack has caught up, and the last 18 months has even shown the market grow ahead of their expectations. No pressure on the kid, but Tyler Myers will be the benchmark for this organization when it comes to how well they understand the game and where it is heading.

Forever in my mind there will be the memory of that exchange of papers. Whether we like it or not, the growth of the Kings and the resurgence of the Sabres is inexorably tied. The Sabres did two things in the first round; they picked a player they loved (Myers) and a player that fits their philosophy (Ennis). The future of this organization, of this regime, lies in their hands.

How’s that for a graduation present?