This work has started way before. In my opinion, the Sabres started the work for this draft when they traded for Cody Hodgson. For me, Hodgson is a top-six forward in any team in the NHL. Now that he'll have time to get acclimated with the city and his teammates, I can see him putting up 50 points per season as a second-line center.
The Sabres were handed a gem when Grigorenko was still available in the 12th spot. There was no real Nail-or-Mikhail debate. Yakupov has been dominating while there still are questions as to Mikhail's mindset. His bout with mononucleosis during the QMJHL's playoffs certainly played against him after having played through an injury in the World Juniors.
The are no questions about his skills. His hands are second to none in this draft and, if he ends up filling up his frame, Grigorenko will be competing with the top centers in the league. His drive, on the other hand, has been scrutinized to exhaustion.
If he doesn't follow the Russian suit of the last couple of years, he might have been a steal at 12th. If he follows the likes of the Alexes, both Ovechkin and Radulov, Nikita Filatov and other Russian players, he might be out of the organization in three years.
All we can do is wait and see.
After the Sabres traded up to 14th, it was a win-win situation. If they had gotten Radek Faksa or Zemgus Girgensons, both players would've been excellent for an organization that lacked in size.
If they had gotten Faksa, though, there would've been a little organizational problem, in my opinion. Since Paul Gaustad was traded away, the Sabres didn't have anyone to cover that role.
With Girgensons, the Sabres get a player who is tailor-made for Gaustad's role. Girgensons, not only has the leadership potential to take over the C or an A in the future, he plays the type of game that Ruff's system calls for. He can make plays in the smallest of spaces.
The most successful European third-line center was Bobby Holik, and I see some of his characteristics in Girgensons. Although he doesn't have the fighting skills that Gaustad has, he has, arguably, more skill than him.
In three years, I can see the Sabres playing with Grigorenko in the first line, Hodgson in the second, Girgensons in the third with Cody McCormick rounding up the centers.
All in all, the Sabres have won big in this year's first round.
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