СЕЗОН 1999-2000 ГГ

ДРАФТ 2000
Калгари, Канада. 24-25 июня 2000 года.

Sabres roll dice in picking Kriukov

Head injury scared off other teams 

By BUCKY GLEASON News Sports Reporter 6/25/00

CALGARY, Alberta - The Buffalo Sabres have been looking for a playmaking center to replace Pat LaFontaine for the last three years. They found one in Artem Kriukov, who comes the way LaFontaine left: surrounded by questions about concussions. 

The Sabres selected Kriukov, a 6-foot-3, 180-pound Russian, in the first round Saturday of the NHL entry draft. He suffered a concussion in November playing against Slovakia. Apparently, it was severe enough that he was unconscious for several minutes and a stick blade was used to prevent him from swallowing his tongue. 

"I was unconscious," Kriukov said through an interpreter. "I don't remember." 

Different versions of Kriukov's injury floated around the Saddledome on Saturday afternoon. Several scouts who attended the game thought it was a serious injury and suggested their teams remove him from draft consideration.

Obviously, the injury wasn't enough to scare off the Sabres, who picked him 15th overall. 

"I was at the game it happened," Sabres Player Personnel Director Don Luce said. "It looked bad, but it was just a concussion. He got a little hurt and played the rest of the season after coming back with no problems. It was mild. . . . We looked into it. We're fine with it."

The Sabres selected offensive defenseman Gerard Dicaire in the second round, 48th overall. They did not have a third-round pick after sending it to Tampa Bay in the trade that brought Chris Gratton to Buffalo. The draft concludes today with rounds 4 through 9. 

Buffalo has been one of the better teams drafting over the last seven years, but its selection of Kriukov was curious considering the increased concern the NHL has had regarding concussions. Teams have been wary of acquiring players who have suffered several over a short period. 

Eric Lindros' problems last season, in which he suffered multiple concussions and missed all but one playoff game for Philadelphia, were well documented. LaFontaine's troubles in Buffalo led to his exit and eventual retirement. Buffalo obviously believes Kriukov does not fit into the same category.

"(Kriukov) has had one concussion," Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier said. "The medical work has been done. Everybody is satisfied with him being back 100 percent. As much as there should be a concern, it's also something that you don't want to overreact to, too. It needs to be examined, which it was, and then you move on." 

Kriukov, 18, was rated 14th among European skaters according to the Central Scouting Service, which called him "a big, fast skater with a powerful shot." Scouts said he's a smart player and good puckhandler who moves well through traffic. Buffalo needed a playmaking center. 

He had no points in three games for Torpedo Yaroslavl II in a men's league a step below professional hockey in Russia. Kriukov said he had eight goals and nine assists in about 20 previous games in junior hockey after coming back from the injury. Sabres scouts saw him play 15 games after the concussion. 

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