All Buffalo Sabres fans have to look forward too is the future. Ten games into the season; the team has a 2-8 record, and has been shut out four of the last six games. Veterans among the likes of Matt Moulson, Drew Stafford and Brian Gionta are yet to record a goal, and the defense as a whole, has combined for a mere assist. Yes, you heard that correctly…one assist! The only thing that can motivate Sabres fans throughout the year will be the development of their prospects, and luckily, there are many of them.
After a red hot start to the 2014-15 AHL campaign, Larsson recorded three goals and five assists in just seven games, and has shown that he is NHL ready. Although Larsson doesn’t have ideal size, he plays with an edge to his game, and has the ability to produce points; which is what the Sabres are in desperate need of. Sam Reinhart will most likely be sent down after his nine games, so look for Larsson to get the call and fill in at centre on the second or third line.
At some point this season Mikhail Grigorenko will be called up to the NHL. After a very impressive preseason, Grigorenko regained his scoring touch, and showed he added much needed speed and strength to his game. Grigorenko has scored four goals in his first seven games in the AHL. Standing at 6’3’’ and 200 pounds, Grigorenko possesses ideal size, and will be a key piece to the Sabres future.
It finally seems like Joel Armia is getting more and more comfortable playing hockey in North America. Armia is off to a solid start, recording seven points in seven games with the Rochester Americans. After a strong preseason, the Pori Finland native should find himself getting a mid-late season call-up with the Sabres. Selected 16th overall in the 2011 NHL draft, Armia will be a key piece to the future of the Buffalo Sabres.
After spending four seasons in the QMJHL, William Carrier has recorded four points in his first seven career AHL games. Carrier’s best asset is his speed, and he has solid size to go along with it. If Carrier can stay healthy, he should find himself playing in the NHL a year or two down the road. The Lasalle Quebec native will look to establish himself in the AHL before making the jump up with the Sabres.
In just eight games with the Sabres, Sam Reinhart has recorded just one assist and is a minus one. Reinhart has all the physical tools to be a star in the NHL, but just isn’t ready at this point in time. Drafted 2nd overall in this past June’s draft, Reinhart will play his ninth game against the Bruins, and will most likely be sent down to the Kootenay Ice of the WHL. The Vancouver, BC native will be back full time with the Sabres come the beginning of next season, where he will be in a better situation and have more opportunities.
To put it nicely, Rasmus Ristolainen is off to a shaky start, as he is a minus six and yet to record a point in ten games this season. When Ristolainen was sent down to Rochester last season, he was really able to develop his offensive game as he recorded 20 points in 34 games. The Sabres have not made any indication whether or not Ristolainen will remain with the club; however, there is no doubt that it would be best for Ristolainen to play in Rochester for a few months. The Finnish defenseman needs to regain his confidence, and a winning environment in Rochester would be the ideal place for this to happen.
After returning from injury, Nikita Zadorov has played just one game with the Sabres this season. Soon enough, Zadorov will be sent down to the London Knights of the OHL. It’s evident that Zadorov just wants to play hockey, and unfortunately the Sabres aren’t allowing him to do so. At 6’5’’ and 235 pounds, the Russian defenseman has perfect size and a lazar from the point. It will be smart to send Zadorov back to the OHL for one more season, so he can continue to get more comfortable playing in North America.
After being drafted 44th overall in the 2012 NHL draft, Jake McCabe had a stellar career at the University of Wisconsin. McCabe has played four games with Rochester this season, recording one assist and is a plus three. With a very impressive preseason, McCabe showed that he is NHL ready at any time. At 6’1’’ and 210 pounds the Eau Claire, Wisconsin product will be called up at some point during the season and will have a major impact on the Sabres blue line.
After an injury plagued training camp and preseason, Mark Pysyk is off to a hot start in Rochester, recording three points in the first five games. At 22 years of age, the Sherwood Park Alberta native should be ready for an NHL call-up in the coming months. Pysyk is a puck moving defenseman who has shown clashes of offensive potential. If Pysyk can stay healthy, he will be a viable top four defenseman in the NHL.
There is no doubt that the Sabres have an abundance of products that are soon ready to make the jump to the NHL. Scoring just 11 goals in 10 games, the Sabres are in the midst of having one of the worst seasons in NHL history. All Sabres fans can look forward too is the future and the development of their prospects. So hang in there Sabres fans! Just 72 more treacherous games until it will be determined if we land Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel.