FanPost

With the 16th pick in the 2011 LHH mock draft, the Buffalo Sabres proudly select…

LHH Editor's Note: Our community NHL Mock Draft continues with DirtyIsle's selection on behalf of the Sabres.

Nathan Beaulieu, D, Saint John (QMJHL) | Ranking: CSS (N.A. skaters): 5; ISS: 14

In the new NHL, smooth skating puck moving offensive D-men who can play well in their own end are at a premium.  But truthfully, this pick was all about value and choosing the best player available.

To help provide my rationale as to why I chose Beaulieu (please forget my previous statement), I’ll do a quick positional breakdown of both current talent, and future prospects. 

Let’s start with the most important position in hockey, and maaaybe in all of professional sport…the goalie: 

The Sabres are currently set in goal for the foreseeable future with Ryan Miller, who turns 31 this year.  They also appear to have a solid goalie prospect in Jhonas Enroth who Hockey Futures ranks as the Sabres 2nd best overall prospect in their system and played 14 games in the show last year posting a very good record of 9-2-2 and equally solid GAA and Sv%. Beyond Miller and Enroth, they are thin and could use some depth, but not necessary with a first round pick.

Up front, the Sabres have very good depth and aren’t old by any means which includes Thomas Vanek, Derek Roy,  Drew StaffordJason Pominville, Brad Boyes, Paul Gaustad and of course, former Islander draft pick Tim Connolly.  The Sabres also have a few solid younger forwards who logged significant minutes with their big club last year including diminutive but highly skilled forwards Tyler ‘don’t call me anus’ Ennis and Nathan Gerbe, who are 5’9" and 5’5", and only weigh in at a mere 157 lbs and 178 lbs respectively. 

Ennis, the Sabres' 2008 first round draft pick, had a particularly solid rookie campaign scoring 20 goals and while logging almost 20 mins per game. With Gerbe and Ennis, I doubt the Sabres will go in the direction of the tiny Rocco Grimaldi. The Sabres' #1 prospect not playing with the big club is The Tower of Power Zach Kassian. Zach has been inconsistent but has a ceiling of a first line bruising and scoring power forward, and a floor of a very good and tough  third liner who  skates well.   

The Sabres' next best prospect  and one who could get a shot with the big club next year is centreman Luke Adam, who had a very good rookie year in the AHL last year. Beyond Kassian and Adam, the Sabres have some other solid forward propects but none who project to be top end scoring talent.  Let the ‘need versus BPA’ debate begin…

On D, their star of the present and the future is no other than Tyler Myers. Already playing a top pairing defenceman’s role, Tyler logged significant PP, PK and top pairing even strength minutes, and he did it well.  With Chara-like size, but possible even more offensive upside, he will be a top pairing D in the NHL for a very long time. No question.   

The Sabres also used their first round pick in 2010 on a defenceman named Pysyk who carries similar skills to Beaulieu, but maybe not the sure thing I think Beauliea will be. The Sabres overall organizational prospect depth at D beyond Pysyk isn’t great and lacks the overall well roundedness that Beaulieu will provide, hence why I believe that IF Beaulieu is available, he will be donning the Blue and Gold for years to come. 

<em>Submitted FanPosts do not necessarily reflect the views of this blog or SB Nation. If you're reading this statement, you pass the fine print legalese test. Four stars for you.</em>

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