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4 check: Sabres options with No. 14 pick

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — As general manager Kevyn Adams works the phones trying to make another deal that could provide immediate help to the roster, the Sabres now hold the 14th selection in the first round of the 2024 NHL draft.


Sabres slide back to pick 14, add 2nd, still ‘actively shopping’ at NHL draft

If the Buffalo does make the pick at No. 14, it will be the lowest first choice for the franchise since 2011, following the Sabres’ last playoff appearance. It also would be the 20th first-round pick Buffalo has made since the dawn of its record playoff drought, and the 14th selection in top 14 of the past 14 drafts.

The Sabres most recently picked 14th in 2021, drafting forward Isak Rosen, one of their top prospects in Rochester over the past two seasons. Zemgus Girgensons, a pending free agent who has been an alternate captain for three seasons was drafted 14th in 2012. Among the other 14th picks were a pair of defenseman who played more than 500 games for the team, Ric Selling (1977) and Jay McKee (1995), along with popular forward Brad May (1990), defensemen Kevin Haller (1989) and Calle Johansson (1985).

Here are four prospects the Sabres could consider drafting at No. 14:

Carter Yakemchuk, D, Calgary Hitmen (WHL) — A 6-foot-3, right-handed shot blue-liner with offensive ability and a mean streak, Yakemchuk checks a lot of boxes for Buffalo’s wish list. Was a finalist for WHL defenseman of the year after compiling 71 points in 66 games. Only the top D-man in the draft Zayne Parekh has a better offenisive profile than Yakemchuck. But he’ll need to improve his skating to be a quality defender in the NHL.

Stian Solberg, D, Valerenga (Norway) — The biggest hitter in the draft has been rising up draft boards since showcasing his game at the world championships and testing well at last month’s NHL Combine in Buffalo. The Sabres figure to play a more physical style under coach Lindy Ruff, and while possessing perhaps the deepest prospect pool in the league, Buffalo is lacking in that regard. Playing in Norway’s top professional league age 18, he could became first of his countrymen to be drafted in the first round.

Berkly Catton, F, Spokane Chiefs (WHL) — Similar to last year’s No. 13 pick Zach Benson in both stature (5-foot-11, 163 pounds) and offensive production (54 goals, 62 assists over 68 games) in Canadian juniors. Won 53% of his faceoffs and led the league with seven shorthanded goals. Buffalo will take the best player available regardless of lineup need or skillset duplication. So if Catton slides because of his size like Benson did a year ago, the Sabres could find themselves with another forward they deemed worthy of a top 10 pick.

Cole Eiserman, F, USNTDP — A gifted scorer whose 127 goals are the most in the history of the USA Hockey National Development Team, might have been the best player available at No. 11. Now he could be going to San Jose to play with former junior teammate, certain No. 1 pick Macklin Cellebrini. Assistant GM Jerry Forton said there is little consensus around the league of where to rank players outside of the top six prospects, so the sweet-shooting 17-year-old shouldn’t be ruled out as an option unless Sharks GM Mike Grier, the former Sabres winger, tipped his hand in trade talks.

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Jonah Bronstein joined the WIVB squad in 2022 as a digital sports reporter. The Buffalonian has covered the Bills, Sabres, Bandits, Bisons, colleges, high schools and other notable sporting events in Western New York since 2005, for publications including The Associated Press, The Buffalo News, and Niagara Gazette. Read more of his work here.

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