Buffalo - August 19, 2014 - With the focus on the Sabres’ drafting and stockpiling prospects being the main talking points when it comes to the team these days, I couldn’t help but think: “who are some of the worst misses in the team’s history of drafting?”
There’s obviously Taro Tsujimoto, who didn’t even exist, but that was more of a joke by General Manager Punch Imlach than anything else. No, I want to get into more of the straight up flops who showed the potential to be successful NHLers, but just never managed to put it together for one reason or another.
Today’s choice is one of the more recent flops for the Sabres and one of their biggest. Today, we look at the 13th overall selection in the 2005 NHL Draft: Marek Zagrapan.
The 6’1” 200 center had been making waves with Chicoutimi of the QMJHL, collecting 169 points in 118 games and he even went toe-to-toe in goals during the 2005 QMJHL playoffs with Sidney Crosby, finishing second with 11 goals to The Kid’s 14.
Blessed with undeniable skills, there were serious questions about his maturity and effort, but his skating, balance and quick hands were just too much for the Sabres to pass up.
After his selection, there’s not much else to report as far as his time in the Buffalo system. He would spend two years in Rochester, failing to live up to his offensive potential before ending up in Portland for the 2008-09 season and, finally, the KHL by 2010. He failed to have much of an impact there, either, and has spent the last four years playing in the Czech Super League having a minimal impact.
Now comes the fun part: some of the names Buffalo passed over in favor of selecting Zagrapan. Here we go: Martin Hanzal (17th overall), Tuukka Rask (21st overall), Nicklas Bergfors (23rd overall), T.J. Oshie (24th overall), Andrew Cogliano (25th overall), Matt Niskanen (28th overall), Steve Downie (29th overall), James Neal (33rd overall), Marc-Edouard Vlasic (35th overall), Ondrej Pavelec (41st overall), Paul Stastny (44th overall) and Mason Raymond (51st overall).
Oh yeah, there’s also Kris Letang (62nd overall), Kris Russell (67th overall), Jonathan Quick (72nd overall) and Cody Franson (79th overall). Hell, the team got Chris Butler in the fourth round (96th overall) and Nathan Gerbe in the fifth (142nd overall). So many names that could have helped Buffalo. I mean, even a seasoned water boy would have done more good than Zagrapan.
It’s hard to swing and miss as badly as the Sabres did here. Thankfully, they didn’t make a habit of taking too many Marek Zagrapan’s.
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