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The Sabres Observer

Sabres Should Hail Nail Or Mikhail

“You know a guy is good when you want your team to lose just so they have a chance at drafting him.”  - James Duthie of TSN on Nail Yakupov.

“This kid (Mikhail Grigorenko) could be Evgeni Malkin.  It’s not out of the question.” – an unnamed scout speaking to TSN’s Bob McKenzie.

I was hoping for an Edmonton victory over Toronto last night, fellow Sabres fans, but perhaps not for the same reason as you.

As of this week, my daily NHL standings viewing habits have changed.  I’m sorting by league instead of conference.  I’m looking down instead of up. 

I just had a dream of a smiling Darcy Regier (his starry-eyed owner really isn’t going to fire him, right?) on the floor of the Consol Energy Center on June 22, anxiously awaiting the first overall selection of the Columbus Blue Jackets.  He looked thrilled because, regardless of what his friend and peer Scott Howson was about to announce, the Sabres were preparing to get their hands on one of two great players capable of giving them an immediate and invigorating infusion of star forward talent.

Then I awoke to the shuddering thought of the Sabres making a valiant surge to finish ninth in the East.

Is this wrong?  Sometimes you root for weird things in sports.  I just watched a Super Bowl where it was the correct strategy to let the other team score.  It’s not like I’m selfishly placing large bets on the Sabres to lose games.  This short-term death wish is strictly a vision of the path towards the glorious resurrection of my team.

Or, put in simpler terms, why settle for a Chevy when you can have a Cadillac?

Russian winger Nail Yakupov looks to be the most exciting player in the draft.  His offensive skill set is off the charts.  Scouts are comparing him to Sergei Fedorov and Pavel Bure.  He also has that certain swagger and attitude that would be a much needed addition to a Sabres team whose mental toughness is still in question.

Yakupov’s fellow countryman, Mikhail Grigorenko, has drawn comparisons to Malkin and Joe Thornton, and has a good chance of being the big impact center the Sabres so desperately need.  Despite being 1B to Yakupov’s 1A, Grigorenko appears to have the tools and makeup to put an end to Buffalo’s five-year search for a true top gun up the middle.

(Check out the video clips on TSN’s draft page and

take that Caddy for a test drive

see some of the buzz on these two players for yourself.)

Sure, sometimes you get superstar players in the middle of the first round.  Sometimes.  The odds are much greater that you land a gem when you pick first or second overall.  Thanks to the Oilers earning a loser point last night against the Leafs, Buffalo (draft lottery results pending) has the illusion of being only four points away from that dream as of today.

The Sabres are getting ready to start their backup goaltender tonight against an elite power in an enemy building in Philadelphia.  Assuming the better team is destined for victory, the Flyers are going to win this one.

And I say, with no shame, that I am fine with it.

Twitter: @DaveDavisHockey

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About The Sabres Observer

Dave Davis has covered the Buffalo Sabres for various NHL accredited websites and newspapers since 2003.  He was the senior writer and Sabres correspondent for The Fourth Period, covered hockey for Western New York Sports and Leisure Magazine, and has had articles featured on NHL.com, FOX Sports, Yahoo Sports and in New York Sportscene.  Sabres news and notes can be found on his Twitter page.

2014-15 NHL Reverse Standings


Email: dd@kuklaskorner.com Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]