Thursday, April 24, 2014

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Geography rules at NHL draft

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From as far away as Russia and Finland, to as close as Amherst and West Seneca, the Sabres have added players with a wide geographical difference to their prospect pool.

With the eighth overall selection, the Sabres chose Finnish defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen. He's a 6'4'' 203 pound blueliner with a rocket of a shot. Ristolainen is known for physicality and an ability to play on the powerplay. He averaged 25 minutes of ice time in the Finish Elite League last year - against pro's. Mikhail Grigorenko played against Ristolainen in the World Juniors.

"(He's a) big right handed defenseman, tough to play against," Grigorenko told YNN. "Always good to have big right handed defenseman. Probably a little bit like Tyler Myers probably, so it's going to be good, good for Sabres."

The Sabres broke a trend last year when selecting the Russian Grigorenko in the first round. They made it a new trend this year. The organization grabbed another Russian with their 16th overall pick. Nikita Zadorov, a 6'5'' defenseman with an offensive upside. He seems to be cut from the mold of Sergei Gonchar and Sergei Zubov.

In the second round, the Sabres picked three times after acquiring an extra selection by trading Andrej Sekera. JT Compher, who led Team USA in scoring at the under-18 championships, was drafted 35th overall. He's expected to attend the University of Michigan in the fall.

Three picks later, the Sabres added Connor Hurley. He led Edina High School to a state title in Minnesota.

Later in the second round, the Sabres picked up Amherst's Justin Bailey. He was one of the top rookies in the OHL, with 36 points in 57 games for the Kitchener Rangers last season.

"It was amazing for my family and for myself," Bailey told Sabres.com. "You grow up and you're playing hockey and especially for me, loving the Sabres and quoting Rick Jeanneret when I was younger, knowing every guy on the team and growing up with them as well. It's just absolutely amazing."

In the third round, the Sabres added right wing Nicholas Baptiste from the OHL's Sudbury Wolves.

In the fifth round, the organization took goaltender Calvin Petersen, right wing Gustav Possler, and defenseman Anthony Florentino.

Then in the sixth round, the Sabres added more local flare. West Seneca's Sean Malone was taken 159th overall after skating in USA Hockey's National Development Program. He had 27 points in 44 games last year.

The Sabres rounded out the draft with center Eric Locke in the seventh round.

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