Adam Kleber goes through fitness testing at the NHL Scouting Combine on June 8 in Buffalo. ©2024, Micheline Veluvolu

NHL Draft Tracker: Sabres select Adam Kleber 42nd overall, make trades

LAS VEGAS – Jerry Forton said Adam Kleber, the defense prospect the Buffalo Sabres selected in the second round at the NHL Draft, 42nd overall, forced his way onto USA’s roster at the World Junior A Challenge as the team’s youngest player.

“Started as the seventh D-man,” the assistant general manager said Saturday following the NHL Draft in The Sphere.

By the end of the tournament, Forton said the 6-foot-6, 215-pound Kleber had morphed into “their best player.”

Kleber, 18, showcased rapid growth throughout his draft season, jumping from 60th in NHL Central Scouting’s midterm rankings to 34th in its final list.

“It’s just kind of a natural progression,” Kleber said of his development.

Kleber compiled five goals, 26 points, 26 penalty minutes and a minus-12 rating in 56 games last season for the United States Hockey League’s Lincoln Stars. He plans to play at Minnesota-Duluth next season.

Kleber, a right-handed shot, said he’s a “two-way defenseman.”

“I can shut down other teams’ top players,” he said. “I like to break out the puck well and join the rush.”

Skating has become one of Kleber’s strengths, no easy task for a big man.

“I worked on it a lot over the summer,” he said. “I think I prioritized it a lot and just tried to make it something that I could make more of an asset for myself. I just think working on it this summer helped me a lot with it.”

– The Sabres traded their third-round pick, 76th overall, and their fifth-rounder, 161st, to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for the 71st selection.

They used the pick to take Brodie Ziemer, a winger from the US National Team Development Program. Central Scouting ranked him 59th among North Americans skaters.

The 5-foot-11, 196-pound Ziemer compiled 27 goals, 70 points, 16 penalty minutes and a plus-40 rating in 61 games as captain last season.

Ziemer, 18, said hockey sense is his greatest strength.

“I’m still trying to become a better skater and with my hockey sense, it allows me to play a little bit faster than I really am,” he said.

That’s why he tries to model his game after Winnipeg Jets forward Tyler Toffoli.

“The way he kind of uses his hockey sense to play a little bit faster,” he said.

Ziemer plans to play at Minnesota next season.

– The Sabres drafted left-shot defenseman Luke Osburn in the fourth round, 108th overall.

Central Scouting ranked the 6-foot-1, 172-pound Osburn 87th among North American skaters.

Osburn, 18, compiled eight goals, 23 points, 36 penalty minutes and a plus-7 rating for the USHL’s Youngstown Phantoms last season.

“Definitely my defensive game probably has to grow a little bit,” he said. “I try to work on everything, but defensively, as far as stick detail, being able to defend one-on-one is definitely something I can work on.”

Osburn said he plans to play for Youngstown next season and finish high school.

The Sabres then traded the 109th pick to the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for the 123rd and 219th selections.


– The Sabres selected right-shot defenseman Simon-Pier Brunet in the fourth round, 123rd overall.

Central Scouting ranked the 6-foot-2, 196-pound Brunet 185th among North American skaters.

Brunet, 18, compiled four goals, 14 points, 56 penalty minutes and a plus-12 rating in 52 games with the Quebec Maritime Junior Hockey League’s Drummondville Voltigeurs. Drummondville won the Memorial Cup, the Canadian Hockey League championship.

– The Sabres selected left-shot defenseman Patrick Geary, a Hamburg native, in the sixth round, 172nd overall.

Geary, 20, wasn’t ranked by Central Scouting.

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Geary compiled five goals, 13 points, 30 penalty minutes and a plus-1 rating in 32 games for Michigan State last season as a freshman.

He played for the Jr. Sabres as a teenager.

– The Sabres selected forward Vasily Zelenov, 18, in the seventh round, 204th overall.

Central Scouting ranked the 6-foot, 180-pound Zelenov 96th among European skaters.

Zelenov recorded 14 goals, 37 points, 24 penalty minutes and a plus-22 rating in 40 games for Red Bull Hockey Junior in Austria last season.

– The Sabres selected goalie Ryerson Leenders in the seventh round, 219th overall.

Central Scouting ranked the 6-foot, 165-pound Leenders 10th among North American goalies.

Leenders, 18, compiled a 24-17-4 record with a 3.12 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage in 46 games for the Ontario Hockey League’s Mississauga Steelheads last season.

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