Buffalo Sabres Draft Preview Part 3: The No. 16 Pick

Matt Clouden@@mattcloudenCorrespondent IJune 15, 2013

HALIFAX, CANADA - JANUARY 16: Zachary Fucale #31 of Team Cherry looks back as the puck crosses the line during the CHL Top Prospects game against Team Orr at the Halifax Metro Centre on January 16, 2013 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.  Team Orr defeated Team Cherry 3-0.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

This will be a six-part series highlighting what the Buffalo Sabres' draft plans may be, including an individual look at all four picks the Sabres have in the top-50.

The Buffalo Sabres will be busy during the first round of this month's NHL Entry Draft. 

After projecting them to select Elias Lindholm, a center/wing hybrid from the Swedish Elite League, with their No. 8 overall pick, the Sabres will have eight picks to see what unfolds for them at pick No. 16. 

There are a few directions the Sabres can go with the 16th pick. Their first inclination, having taken a forward at No. 8, will probably be a defenseman. There are a few three-zone defenseman who could or should be available at the 16th spot. 

The most wanted at that spot will likely be Ryan Pulock, who starred for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL. While considered an offensive defenseman right now, many believe he has the tools to become an excellent defensive zone guy as well. His shot also draws rave reviews, a quality the Sabres are currently lacking on their blue line. Pulock led his team in scoring this season as well with 45 points in 61 contests. 

Pulock has been projected to go as high as No. 8 (to the Sabres) and No. 20 to the San Jose Sharks, but most have him in the 10-14 range, so he may only be there if he slides or the Sabres move up. 

The other defenseman the Sabres will be taking a long look at is Mirco Muller, also playing in the WHL for the Everett Silvertips. The Swiss defenseman has been shooting up draft boards as of late due to his complete playing style and high ceiling. He may not be flashy, but he will get the job done in all three zones, something the Sabres sorely need. 

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Muller flew under the radar until the World Junior Championships in Ufa this year, so he is not projected nearly as high as some defensive prospects, but the most recent mock drafts have him going as high as No. 16 to the Sabres. 

There is a dark-horse pick here, and it depends on what the Sabres' top brass feel about their goaltending future. 

Zach Fucale is the clear No. 1 netminder in the draft this year, but the talent in the pool of skaters this year has likely pushed him out of the lottery picks, and possibly even the first round entirely. He backstopped the stacked Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL to the Memorial Cup this year and posted a ridiculous 45-5-3 record this season. 

While clearly a blue chipper, Fucale has been projected everywhere in the draft, from as high as No. 11 to the Philadelphia Flyers to as low as No. 34 to the Montreal Canadiens in the second round. 

If he is available, it will depend on the Sabres' evaluation of Matt Hackett and Jhonas Enroth as their starting goalies of the future, but may be a shoo-in if Ryan Miller is traded, as many expect him to be. 

Another consideration is if the Sabres take a defenseman with the eighth pick. That opens up the possibility of them taking a wing here, making Adam Erne, Valentin Zykov, Ryan Hartman and Hunter Shinkaruk guys to keep an eye on. 

Overall, signs point to Pulock being the most desired guy at No. 16, but the reality is that he could be gone by the time the Sabres pick at No. 8. Muller has the goods but may be considered a reach with the 16th pick.

The best guess? 

Due to Miller's likely relocation, assuming they stay at No. 16, the Sabres' selection is: Zach Fucale, G, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)

Follow me on Twitter for NHL and Sabres news all offseason: @SwordPlay18.

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