"The Buffalo Sabres select ______ _____ from ___________."
Will new Sabres GM Jason Botterill be one of those guys who does the whole "We want to say hi to our fans watching from 716 Food and Sport back in Buffalo" or will he take after his predecessor and just announce the pick with a subdued look?
We will more than likely find out on June 23 at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft in Chicago. The Sabres hold the eighth overall pick and assuming they don't make a trade, they have plenty of options with their first selection. As the draft rapidly approaches we'll look at some intriguing prospects for the Sabres and break down what they bring to the table. Buckle up, it's going to be a fun few weeks.
Right Wing, Mississauga Steelheads, Ontario Hockey League
6'2" - 203 pounds
"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take. -Wayne Gretzky"- Michael Scott
Owen Tippett loves to shoot the puck, and more often than not, his shots find the back of the net.
"When I was a kid I just kind of shot pucks in the driveway whenever I could, whenever I got home from school," Tippett said when in Buffalo for the NHL Combine. "I kind of have a shoot-first mentality."
His fair share of garage door dents later, the practice has paid off. The 18-year-old winger is coming off an impressive 2016-2017 campaign, scoring 44 goals and adding 31 assists [75 points] in just 60 games. When you consider that Tippett had only 15 goals and 20 points the year prior, his increased production is quite startling.
"I'd say [I'm] an offensive, skilled forward," Tippett explained. "I like to use my speed, my shot and my vision to my advantage. I like to use my speed the most."
When asked who he likes to watch in the NHL, Tippett quickly responded '"Phil Kessel", so the Sabres should basically draft him no matter what. That's a joke, for those of you who can't read sarcasm. Kidding aside, Buffalo was one of the 26 teams Tippett met with at the combine and he said it went well.
"[It] was really good, they kind of just sat me down and got to know what kind of player I was, what kind of person I was, and a little family background, so it was good."
You can make the argument that the Sabres need to add defensive depth desperately (ayoo alliteration), however, they also need scoring wingers. Evander Kane, Kyle Okposo, and 2016 first round pick Alex Nylander aren't enough. There's no such thing as having too many players who can put the biscuit in the basket, just look at the Pittsburgh Penguins and their scoring depth.
Coincidentally enough, Tippett and Nylander were teammates in Mississauga -- Perhaps a reunion is in order? He was also teammates with Sabres prospect and Western New York native Austin Osmanski.
"My relationship with him is probably one of the best I've had."
Like Nylander, Tippett could use some seasoning when he plays away from the puck. It's something he's worked on and something he admits needs to be improved.
"I think I'm pretty close, one thing I really work on is being a more 200-foot player, just developing my game so I can play kind of both sides of the ice."
But does Tippett make sense with the eighth overall pick? Botterill needs to get some players in the organization that can play with Jack Eichel and Ryan O'Reilly for years to come.
Last year, when the Sabres drafted Nylander, the person next to me said: "Jack, meet your new winger." If that's the case, one side of his future line has prematurely been penciled in, but will Reinhart play on Eichel's right wing forever? Perhaps drafting a player like Tippett gives the Sabres some options, with all the aforementioned players -- especially if Evander Kane is traded or heads out of town.
Tippett, like most players in this draft, won't be ready for the NHL next year. That shouldn't scare Sabres fans away, it's all about building from the ground up like Botterill has said multiple times since he was hired in May. If he's drafted, Tippett becomes either the second or third most valuable prospect in the organization.
Personally, I believe teams should always go with the best player available, and if the Sabres are on the clock and Tippett is at the top of their draft board he should be the pick. It's pretty simple, really.
Previous Sabres Draft Watch profiles: