News | 6/25/2011 4:31:28 PM | Rob Crean
The 2011 NHL Entry Draft netted both current and future players for the Buffalo Sabres organization over the weekend. In addition to the six draft picks (four forwards, a defenseman and a goaltender) they added, the Sabres also acquired defenseman Robyn Regehr and forward Ales Kotalik from the Calgary Flames.
After choosing Joel Armia, a Finnish right winger described as a “power forward” with great scoring touch by Sabres General Manager, with the 16th overall pick on Friday night, Buffalo continued to add forwards with their first two selections on Saturday.
In the third round (77th overall), the Sabres took center Daniel Catenacci, who led the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in scoring this past season with 71 points (26-45-71) in 67 games. The Sabres, who did not have a second round pick in this draft, were delighted when they were able to grab one of the fastest skaters in the OHL in the third round.
“Catenacci we had (rated) in the second round. That was kind of what we were looking for, hoping someone would slide to the third round,” said Sabres Director of Amateur Scouting Kevin Devine. “Really solid on his skates, explosive speed, good wrist shot, and we’re glad to have him.”
Catenacci was equally excited to be joining the Sabres.
“For all the hard work you’ve put in, and to be selected by an NHL team, and it’s such a great organization like Buffalo, it’s a dream come true,” he said. “I’m really happy I landed in Buffalo.”
In the fourth round (107th overall), the Sabres tabbed forward and Texas native Colin Jacobs, who registered 22-22-44 in 68 games for Seattle of the WHL this season. He played in the 2011 CHL Top Prospects Game and ranked third on his team in scoring.
“I’m speechless,” he said. “I’m so excited to finally be picked and be picked by a great organization. I can’t wait to get everything started and see what happens in the future.”
Jacobs is described as a two-way forward by NHL Central Scouting’s B.J. MacDonald.
"He gets better every game out,” MacDonald said. “He pays attention to the defensive side at both ends of the rink. He helps out down low. He's learning to use his size much better and has good positioning. He's playing on a low-scoring team, but he's getting more effective offensive instincts each game. He's always around the puck, plays well in traffic and the corners. He's strong on the puck.”
In the fifth round (137th overall), Buffalo went with a local product, taking West Seneca, NY native Alex Lepkowski, a defenseman with Barrie of the OHL.
“He’s a big guy, he moves well,” said Devine, who added that Lepkowski is also willing to drop the gloves when needed. “His ex-teammates in Saginaw were devastated when he got traded. He’s a great team guy, so we think we’ve got some potential there.”
The 6-foot-4, 212-pound defenseman played in 39 games last season for Saginaw and Barrie.
The next round, Buffalo went with a goaltender, selecting Nathan Lieuwen of the WHL’s Kootenay Ice with the 167th pick. Lieuwen helped lead the Ice to the WHL Championship and a berth in the Memorial Cup as a teammate of Sabres prospect Bryaden McNabb.
Lieuwen went 33-16-1 with a 2.79 GAA, a .903 save percentage and three shutouts during the regular season. He also went 16-2 with three shutouts in an impressive postseason run.
Devine noted that while he went down with a concussion injury during the 2009-10 season, he rebounded with a terrific year in 2010-11 that ended with a WHL Championship.
To close out their 2011 Draft, the Sabres chose a Wisconsin High School star in center Brad Navin with the 197th selection. Navin, who was one of the 35 prospects who attended the Sabres private combine earlier this month, scored 52 points in just 14 games for Waupaca High last season. Next season, he’ll be a freshman at the University of Wisconsin.
“Everybody I met was awesome,” Navin said of attending the Sabres combine in Buffalo. “All the coaches that ran drills and interviewed me were awesome. I really enjoyed it.”
The next step for the newest members of the organization will be Development Camp, which takes place July 5-10 at Dwyer Arena on the campus of Niagara University.