2015-16 Buffalo Sabres Top 10 Prospects

2015-16 Buffalo Sabres Top 10 Prospects

Buffalo Sabres season primer
Buffalo Sabres top 10 prospects include Lawrence Pilut, Victor Olofsson, and Ukko-Pekka Luukonen

After two seasons of historically bad teams, the Sabres now have accumulated a wealth of talented prospects which has allowed them to acquire some quality NHL talent in Evander Kane, Ryan O’Reilly and Robin Lehner.

While GM Tim Murray was openly disappointed the team was not awarded the first overall selection and a shot at Connor McDavid, the consolation prize of Jack Eichel will secure the teams future for a generation.

There may yet still be a year or two of struggling ahead, but the Sabres are poised to become a serious contender.

1. Jack Eichel: Center – 6’2” / 194 lbs
Drafted: 2nd overall in the first round of the 2015 draft by the Sabres.

Eichel won the Hobey Baker award as a college freshman, took BU to the Frozen Four Championship, won the Bean Pot, and was the focal point of the USA World Junior team. After a dominant season on the ice he continued to be a headliner after turning heads at the NHL scouting combine before ultimately being selected second overall by the Sabres. He will debut in the NHL this season and begin his path to shattering Sabres all-time scoring records.

2. Sam Reinhart: Center – 6’1” / 190 lbs
Drafted: 2nd overall in first round of the 2014 draft by the Sabres.

Suddenly the Sabres have a glut of stars at the centre position in Eichel, Reinhart, Ryan O’Reilly, Zemgus Girgensons, and David Legwand. Some of these players will be forced to the wing sooner or later, sooner if Reinhart shows ready to break into the NHL out of training camp. It is unlikely he would be returned to junior again, but then again, the Sabres should be in no rush to push Reinhart until he is ready and forces his way onto the roster.

3. Jake McCabe: Defense – 6’1” / 210 lbs
Drafted: 44th overall in the second round of the 2014 draft by the Sabres.

McCabe continues to make strides towards becoming a factor on the Sabres blue line. In his first full season of pro, he scored 29 points in 57 games in the AHL with Rochester. He has had a couple cups of coffee with the big club, nine games in total with one assist, but more impressive is he has only a minus 3 rating in that time playing on some woeful Sabres rosters. The former team USA Captain at the world juniors has leadership qualities and puck moving skills. Some more seasoning in the AHL would not hurt, but he is close.

4. Nick Baptiste: Right Wing – 6’1” / 190 lbs
Drafted: 2013, 3rd round 69th overall in the third round of the 2013 draft by the Sabres.

Baptiste was traded to Erie early in the season and his offensive support on a stacked Otters team went almost unnoticed. He provided some huge timely goals in the playoffs, driving the Otters past the London Knights and Greyhounds to the finals. The move from Sudbury helped his development as the Wolves won fewer games than the Sabres, which is saying something!

5. Justin Bailey: Right Wing – 6’3” / 202 lbs
Drafted:  52nd overall in the second round of the 2013 draft by the Sabres.

The Buffalo native matured in his third season in the OHL and the trade from Kitchener to the Soo may have helped, as he was part of a strong team in Sault Ste. Marie. His offensive production has always been present, but Bailey took on some leadership qualities and rounded out his game this season and was impressive. He is trending up and was a standout at the development camp.

6. Hudson Fasching: Right Wing – 6’2” / 213 lbs
Drafted: 118th overall in the fourth round of the 2013 draft by the Kings.
Acquired: Buffalo acquired Fasching and Nicholas Deslauriers for Brayden McNabb, Jonathan Parker, and a 2014 and 2015 second round draft picks.

Fasching has completed two seasons of college hockey at Minnesota and will return for a third at least before turning pro.  His stats remained essentially flat lined from the season prior, which is a slight concern as you like to see continual progression at this stage of development, but the potential remains with his size and improved skating

7. Eric Cornel: Center / Right Wing – 6’2” 186 lbs
Drafted: 44th overall in the second round of the 2014 draft by the Sabres.

In his third OHL season, Cornel took a step back offensively, and the trade of Nick Ritchie may have had something to do with it. After a difficult season with the Petes, Cornel made his pro debut finishing the season with Rochester, playing six games where he managed one assist and a minus 3. He may be returned to the Petes for a final season of junior.

8. Brendan Guhle: Defense – 6’2” 185 lbs
Drafted: 51st overall in the second round of the 2015 draft by the Sabres.

In a draft steeped in top defensive prospects, Guhle flew under the radar somewhat and Buffalo picked him slightly above where he was widely ranked. He is an all-around type player who should fill out his tall frame. He has great skating technique and some offensive upside. Could be a steal.

9. Andrey Makarov: Goalie – 6’1” 178 lbs
Acquired: Signed Free Agent 2012

Makarov shared Rochester rookie of the year honors with Jake McCabe in his first full AHL season. He made his NHL debut in April in a game vs the Islanders and impressed despite the loss. Stan Fischler tweeted “The Sabres have a superior goaltending prospect in the Russian Andrey Makarov.”

10. William Carrier: Left Wing – 6’1” 196 lbs
Drafted: 57th overall in the second round of the 2013 draft by the Blues.
Acquired: Buffalo acquired Carrier, the Blues 2015 1st round pick, Jaroslav Halak and Chris Stewart for Ryan Miller and Steve Ott.

Carrier had an impressive development camp with the sabres and showed good chemistry with Reinhart. Head Coach Dan Bylsma mentioned him as a standout. He needs to carry that momentum back to Rochester and improve on last season’s performance.

Recent Roster Graduates: Rasmus Ristolainen, Johan Larsson, Mark Pysyk, Philip Varone

Players under 25 years old and with less than 25 career NHL games played qualify as a prospect for purpose of this list.

Written by Peter Harling, who can be found on twitter @pharling

Jack Eichel

Sam Reinhart

Jake McCabe

Nick Baptiste

Justin Bailey

Hudson Fasching

Eric Cornel

Brendan Guhle

Andrey Makarov

William Carrier