The Buffalo Sabres have had some high draft picks over the past nine years as the team is currently on the longest playoff drought in the NHL.
Indeed, Terry Pegula’s franchise has not reached the post-season since 2010-11 after narrowly missing out last season.
It is hoped that with the addition of Taylor Hall this offseason that Ralph Krueger’s team will see action on the ice after the regular season.
The sportsbooks don’t hold much hope for the Sabres though, heading into the season as 66/1 longshots to lift the Stanley Cup with Indiana bet, and odds against to even reach the playoffs.
Buffalo’s future does at least have some high hopes as there are a number of talented youngsters contracted to the team currently. Here’s a look at five of those:
1. Jack Quinn
With the eighth overall pick of the 2020 NHL Draft the Buffalo Sabres selected right-winger Jack Quinn out of Ottawa.
Quinn played just two full seasons in the OHL but wasn’t far away from being a point per game player. In all, the 19-year-old hot prospect played 131 games, scoring 64 goals and recording 58 assists.
This year’s top draft pick by the Sabres has an excellent vision on the ice and has shown he can score at the junior level. Whether he sees any NHL action in 2020 seems unlikely as I think it’ll be a year before he’s on the main roster.
2. Dylan Cozens
There’s also a lot of hype for forward Dylan Cozens after being selected as the seventh overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.
The 19-year-old was third in the Western Hockey League in points per game last season (1.67) as he looks set to be eased into the main team this upcoming season.
A natural Center, it wouldn’t be too surprising if Cozens plays more time out on the wing during his first season as a Sabre. In fact, the acquisition of experienced Center Eric Staal may force this, as the arrival from the Carolina Hurricanes helps with his development.
Dylan Cozens’ 6’3” frame helped Canada win the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship earlier this year.
3. Mattias Samuelsson
The number 32 overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft could be ready to debut for the Buffalo Sabres in 2021.
Mattias Samuelson is the son of Kjell, who played 14 seasons as an NHL defenseman for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning.
The 20-year-old has good leadership, and standing at 6’4”, 223lbs, is a physical defender to help bolster what has been a leaky defence in recent seasons.
After two seasons at Western Michigan, the initial plan is for Samuelsson to be sent to Rochester in the AHL to begin the season.
4. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen
Injuries have halted Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen’s NHL debut since being taken as the number 54 overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.
The 21-year-old underwent double hip surgery in April 2019, limiting him to just 10 appearances for the Rochester Americans in the AHL last season.
Back on loan with TPS in the top professional league in Finland, a good season for Luukkonen could see him promoted to the Buffalo Sabres’ roster in 2022. The team has been dying for a dependable goaltender for a few seasons now so let’s hope we already have one on our books in terms of the young Finn.
5. Jacob Bryson
A fourth-round pick back in 2017, Jacob Bryson has hung around and could see playing time in the Buffalo Sabres’ defence in the future.
Don’t expect it to happen in 2020-21 though as head coach Krueger already has Rasmus Dahlin, Jake McCabe and Matt Irwin in his left-sided position.
Instead, the 22-year-old with good speed will spend a second season with Rochester, where he emerged as a top prospect last campaign.