With the 23rd overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, the Buffalo Sabres selected defenseman Mark Pysyk of the Edmonton Oil Kings from the WHL.
It was obvious that the Sabres had one thing in mind when drafting Pysyk: puck movement.
“Skating is such a big part of the National Hockey League today and Mark fits that,” Sabres general manager Darcy Regier told NHL Radio. “Since the rule changes, mobility is a big factor. There is certainly room for a stay-at-home defenseman ... but largely, it's a skating, puck-moving game and again, Mark fits that.”
Pysyk, 18, marks the fourth defenseman taken with the Sabres first pick in the last five years. He recently completed his second season with Edmonton in the WHL. In just 48 games, he finished with seven goals and 24 points and led all defensemen on his team in points. His season was cut short due to a broken foot.
Although Pysyk did finish the season with an ugly minus-19 rating, he is noted as being an impressive all-around blue-liner. The 6’1”, 175-pound defenseman is a strong skater who can move the puck up ice quickly and, more importantly, effectively.
The Oil Kings’ passing is solid and according to the WHL scouting report, “Pysyk’s intelligence, hockey sense and passing ability make him a threat on the power play, and his skating enables him to join the rush when he sees the opportunity.”
“Mark is a pretty safe, reliable defenseman who doesn’t make a lot of mistakes, pays attention to detail, and does a lot of the little things that maybe go unnoticed,” Oil Kings’ general manager Bob Green told WHL.com.
“Definitely, his skating and his hockey sense are the first thing you’ll notice when you watch him play, but he’s got a lot of character, he’s a solid player who is dedicated to the game, he works hard, and has great habits on and off the ice.”
The drafting of Pysyk may now bring into question whether or not the Sabres are seriously considering acquiring Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Tomas Kaberle. Pysyk’s ability on the power play is certainly nowhere near Kaberle’s, but in time, he should develop nicely.
Overall, drafting Pysyk shouldn’t hinder any negotiations for Kaberle, but it does leave the Sabres with a nice option should any deal with Toronto fall through. Regardless, Buffalo’s goal to find a player who can open up the ice for others was reached. The Sabres next pick will not be until the third round, 68th overall.