After a completely disastrous 2011-12 regular season, that saw the Buffalo Sabres miss the postseason, the 2012 NHL entry draft became a much more important day for the Sabres organization than originally anticipated.
After Buffalo GM Darcy Regier was given the green light to go out and spend an exorbitant amount of money on free agents like Ville Leino and Christian Ehrhoff, the Sabres were expected to be among the Eastern Conference's leaders from October until April.
Instead, they were bottom feeders for the duration of the season, leaving many questioning why they spent so much money on players like Leino and Ehrhoff.
With the Sabres only having about $11.8 million in cap space this offseason, and the need to sign six players, it didn't appear as though the Sabres were going to be able to make big waves in the free agent market this year in order to make a push to become a contending team once again.
Enter the 2012 NHL entry draft.
This past weekend was Darcy Regier's chance to add a few assets to the Sabres system to help build a successful team for the future.
Entering the draft with four of the first 44 selections, Buffalo was in a great position to do just that.
Luckily for Sabres fans, Darcy Regier handled himself in superb fashion, managing to flip Nashville's first-round pick (21st overall) along with the Sabres own second rounder for Calgary's 14th overall draft choice.
This allowed Regier to address his need for organizational depth at the center position not once, but twice, as he was able to snag top-tier Russian prospect Mikhail Grigorenko, as well as the top Latvian prospect Zemgus Girgensons.
According to hockeysfuture.com, the Sabres were in dire need of some offensive prospects, particularly at center and left-wing.
There isn't really a grade that would suit Buffalo's first round other than an "A."
Choosing a player who was ranked as the second best prospect in the draft earlier in the season and may be able to contribute immediately, along with the addition of a top-15 pick to further improve your organization's offensive depth is exactly what Buffalo needed to do.
As for day 2 of the draft, Regier used his remaining picks to bring in three more centers, a goalie (albeit one that is likely to never see much time in the NHL), and two more defensemen to keep Buffalo's depth on the blue line intact.
If Buffalo's previous free agent signings from last year can have a rebound kind of season, and Mikhail Grigorenko can crack the Sabres' lineup this fall, the Sabres could be primed for a return to the postseason, as well as a bright future thanks in large part to Darcy Regier.
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