NHL Draft: Sabres' biggest needs, top prospects

Owen Power, left, and Peyton Krebs, right, are two of the Sabres' most exciting young players.. (Photo by Ben Green/NHLI via Getty Images)
Owen Power, left, and Peyton Krebs, right, are two of the Sabres' most exciting young players.. (Photo by Ben Green/NHLI via Getty Images)

When the Buffalo Sabres step onto the ice for the 2022-23 season, they’ll be wielding an exciting mix of youth and talent. After amassing several high first-round picks, and acquiring others, the Sabres look like a roster that will soon be challenging powerhouse teams in the Atlantic Division. That group will be paced by first overall selections Owen Power and Rasmus Dahlin on the blue line and a group of recent first-round picks up front including Dylan Cozens, Peyton Krebs, Jack Quinn, and Isak Rosen.

While the team is still a few seasons away from contention and could very well miss the playoffs again next season, Sabres fans will delight in the brand of hockey on display. With yet another top 10 pick coming its way this season, Buffalo will only get deeper.

Top Prospects

Peyton Krebs - Watching Jack Eichel walk away was a sad day for many Sabres fans. Watching Krebs’ development this season has eased the sting significantly.

Krebs, an elite playmaker with off-the-charts hockey IQ, excelled in American Hockey League stints upon his arrival following the trade, and again after Buffalo was eliminated from playoff contention. He played his natural center position, contributed 22 points in 48 games and looked ready to claim his spot in Buffalo’s top six.

Jack Quinn - The eighth overall pick in 2020, Quinn has seen steady development. He used the pandemic rules to jump into the AHL early, and after acclimatizing himself last season, he exploded for 61 points in 45 games. It’s production not typically witnessed from a 20-year-old in the league.

Quinn also had two points in a two-game call-up to Buffalo. A lethal scorer, Quinn has rounded out his two-way game in the AHL and will enter the NHL next season ready to contribute immediately.

JJ Peterka - The German playmaker who was thought of by many as a first-round talent before slipping to 34th overall in 2020 has been hard to handle as a 20-year-old in the AHL, scoring 68 points in 70 games. Perhaps more impressive was his ability to continue his scoring pace into the postseason with the Rochester Americans.

With the puck on his stick, Peterka is creative and plays at a high pace. He will advance to Buffalo alongside his young Rochester teammates next season.

NHL Ready

Owen Power could still, technically, be referred to as a prospect, but his level of NHL readiness usurps the moniker. While he only got into eight games following his season ending with the University of Michigan, Power stepped onto the ice asserting veteran poise beyond his years.

Buffalo, however, will have an influx of NHL talent ready to take the next step alongside Power including Krebs, Quinn, and Peterka, as well as netminder Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen. When you combine this group with Cozens, Tage Thompson, Dahlin, Henri Jokiharju, the Sabres' future looks bright.

One To Watch

With Luukkonen ready to step into the Sabres' crease, Devon Levi will bide his time again in the NCAA. The NCAA Rookie of the Year and Top Goalie seemingly has little to prove, aside perhaps from his ability to duplicate the eye-popping numbers he’s displayed recently.

In the 2020 World Juniors, Levi was named the tournament’s top goaltender after posting a 0.75 GAA and .964 save percentage. This year in the NCAA with Northeastern, Levi was almost as good, finishing with a 1.54 GAA and .952 save percentage.

The only knock on Levi is his six-foot stature, but his statistics are larger than life. Following this season, Buffalo will have a good problem to solve — what to do with two blue-chip prospects in net. Luukkonen has been coined Buffalo’s “goalie of the future,” but Levi might have other ideas.

Needs At The Draft

With depth at all positions, Buffalo will have the opportunity to take risks and select the best available player with each choice. At ninth overall, the Sabres will face a plethora of options at all forward positions. The top defenders in Simon Nemac and David Jiricek will likely be off the board by this point, meaning if Buffalo wanted another blue liner, it would need to reach, or could opt to trade down and add additional picks.

With such depth, the Sabres could also swing for the fences with two of the “riskier” names on the board in Brad Lambert and Ivan Miroshnichenko. Both are considered top-five talents but are projected outside of that range.

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