By Budd Bailey, Buffalo Sports Page Columnist
Maxim Afinogenov of the Sabres
Taken in Round 3 in 1997
Other picks in the round: The Sabres clearly took the most valuable player of the round. No one else scored even a third of Afinogenov’s career goal total. Ville Nieminen (Colorado) did take part in 385 NHL games. Jeff Farkas of Williamsville went at No. 57 to Toronto, and played in ll career NHL cames.
The details: Only a handful of Sabre players had more talent than Afinogenov, who at times was a treat to watch. He spent nine seasons in Buffalo, with a career-high of 73 points in 2005-06. Maxim was a part of the fine Sabre teams in the middle of the 2000s. Afinogenov jumped to the Thrashers in 2009 for a season, and then crossed the ocean and returned to Russia in the Kontinental League. He played for the Moscow Dynamo as late as 2019-20.
Other 69s: Glenn Parker spent seven seasons with the Bills, and was a starter for most of that time. That included the Super Bowl era of the early 1990s. T.J. Graham (2012) saw some action at wide receiver for two years. Rumun Ndur (1994) spent small parts of three seasons with the Sabres before playing for more than 10 years on both sides of the Atlantic. Cliff Pu was the only actual player to go from Buffalo to Carolina in the Jeff Skinner trade; Pu hasn’t reached the NHL as of this writing.
They got away: Books could be written about Gilles Gratton, a goaltender with a unique personality. In fact, he wrote one himself. Gratton signed with Ottawa of the WHA after he was drafted by the Sabres in 1972. Paul Martha was a first-round pick of the Steelers in 1964, while the Bills selected him in the ninth round. Martha signed with Pittsburgh and played seven years in the NFL.
(Follow Budd on Twitter @WDX2BB)