The Buffalo Sabres currently have a healthy roster, with only four players in their 30s – Eric Staal, goaltender Carter Hutton, Matt Irwin, and Kyle Okposo.
Whilst much has been made of our playoff drought, things appear to be going in the right direction under head coach Ralph Krueger, now in his second in charge at the KeyBank Center.
That opinion is not shared with the sportsbooks though, as Hard Rock is one of the majority to have us as 28th favorites out of 32 to win the Stanley Cup this year. Just making the post-season would be an achievement for us in their eyes.
There are certain signs we can cause an upset or two and surprise the hockey world this year. Sure, the Sabres are far from being Stanley Cup contenders, but with the number of young prospects on the current roster, and a few waiting in the wings, anything is possible in a couple of seasons.
Here’s a look at three of those who could be on the main roster in a couple of seasons from now:
Still only 19 years old, Dylan Cozens scored his first career NHL goal against the Washington Capitals last week. The teenager had been knocking on the door for the few games prior after transitioning sensationally despite his age.
The accuracy of Cozens’ shooting has fans in Buffalo purring, but head coach Ralph Krueger is not going to get sucked in just yet. The youngster was rested for our latest game, beating the New York Rangers on Tuesday.
There’s no doubt the hot prospect will see more game time as the season progresses, and provided he remains free of injuries he should be a candidate for Rookie of the Season with how he has performed in the opening weeks.
A few eyebrows were raised when the Buffalo Sabres used the eighth overall selection on Jack Quinn in the 2020 NHL draft. Notably, Marco Rossi and Cole Perfetti were still on the board, with many expecting our pick to be selected much later on in the draft.
Three months later and the 19-year-old has played for Team Canada at the U20 World Juniors, and he didn’t impress anyone much at all. There were certainly some flashes, including strong breakout passes, but much more will be expected from the youngster in the coming months and years.
Apparently, Jack Quinn impressed Ralph Krueger during our training camp ahead of the 2020-21 campaign, but a few games into the new season and he has already been put on the taxi squad.
It’s somewhat surprising that he is already in the first team, mostly because he’s not physically ready. A place in the minors for his development would seem the best option for now, but you can be assured over the next couple of years he’ll transition into a regular for the Sabres.
The first choice center for Fargo in the USHL, Aaron Huglen has scored points in seven of his nine games already this season. That included two goals and an assist this past week.
Whilst those numbers aren’t anything special for a 19-year-old in that division, you have to remember that the teenager is only just back from the sidelines where he spent almost two years.
And the early signs are that Huglen has no ill-effects of his injuries and setbacks over the past 20 months.
Once a fourth-round pick by us, Aaron Huglen could be playing for first team in a matter of years no doubt. He’s shown enough skill this month to prove a professional contract is still on the cards.