Kukla's Korner

The Sabres Observer

Why Did The Avs Pass On Brendan Lemieux?

Patrick Roy and Joe Sakic have known Claude Lemieux's son Brendan since he sat in the Stanley Cup as a three-month-old baby in 1996.  Brendan's dad remains good friends with Roy and Sakic to this day.

Lemieux (left wing with 27 goals, 26 assists and 53 points for the OHL's Barrie Colts last season) had made it clear Colorado was his first choice, and it seemed like a great fit.

So why did the Avalanche not take the 6'1" 209 lb. truculent forward at number 23, even though many had him rated as a first-round talent in this year's draft? 

The answer is Conner Bleackley.

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Avalanche chief amateur scout Rick Pracey said of Bleackley (29-39-68 for the WHL's Red Deer Red Deer Rebels last season), a center, that he’s a competitive player with good leadership abilities who’s strong on the puck.

Bleackley was also something of a rarity in that he was captain of his junior team at the age of 17.  Another big factor is that he spent about 100 fewer minutes in the penalty box last season than Lemieux.

So while Lemieux is considered a great character player, Colorado chose to go with a different character player but with more of a resume as a leader and perhaps a bit more self-control on the ice.

I've heard a few Sabres fans question why Lemieux slipped in the draft until Buffalo selected him with the first pick in the second round.  I wouldn't worry about it at all. 

NHL Central Scouting had Lemieux ranked higher than Bleackley, and there are no analytics to measure the fury and determination of a man who feels spurned by 29 teams.

Tim Murray got a player who could add a feisty edge to a contending Sabres team down the road, but with more scoring ability than guys like Patrick Kaleta and Cody McCormick. 

If Lemieux is ever good enough to be a regular in the NHL, it's a safe bet that Sabres fans will love him.

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Filed in: | The Sabres Observer | Permalink
  Tags: brendan+lemieux, buffalo+sabres, conner+bleackley

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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.

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