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Sabres opted for safe pick instead of possible ‘home run’ Nichushkin

2012 NHL Entry Draft - Round One

during Round One of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at Consol Energy Center on June 22, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Bruce Bennett

The Buffalo Sabres, with the eighth overall pick in Sunday’s NHL Draft, had their doubts about Russian prospect Valeri Nichushkin.

And so, they passed up on him. The risks, they felt, weren’t worth the potential rewards of selecting the touted and towering forward.

Instead, the Sabres went the safe route, and chose defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen out of Finland.

“We thought that Ristolainen, he was close. Nichushkin, he could be a home run, but if things don’t work out,” Kevin Devine, the Sabres’ director of amateur scouting, told the Buffalo News.

“He’s been quoted in the paper as saying if he didn’t play and some things didn’t go right this year he was going back to the KHL. Then if he goes back there, do we ever see him again?”

However, it didn’t take long for an NHL club to select Nichushkin. Two picks later, the Dallas Stars grabbed him at 10th overall.

“We plan on signing him as soon as possible,” Stars GM Jim Nill told the Dallas Morning News recently.

“He’s free. His contract is free from Russia. We have notice from the NHL, from the KHL. So there was no problem that way for us. That’s not a concern.”