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Hoss

2019-20 Sabres Prospects

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Probably time to kick this one off now that the draft is over.

As always, the Sabres Prospect Bible: https://www.sabresprospects.com/?m=1

The conversation started in the old prospects thread but let’s discuss: who are your top 5 prospects in our system right now?

I’d go with:

1. Dylan Cozens

2. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonnen

3. Victor Olofsson

4. Will Borgen

5. Rasmus Asplund

Guys like Ryan Johnson, Marcus Davidsson, Alex Nylander and Mattias Samuelsson are all in the conversation, too. This doesn’t feel so bare. Though it rarely does immediately after a draft.

Edited by Hoss
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CJ Smith?  He needs to get more of a look this year.  I thought he played decent the little time he had and did very well in Rochester.

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37 minutes ago, Gatorman0519 said:

CJ Smith?  He needs to get more of a look this year.  I thought he played decent the little time he had and did very well in Rochester.

He's definitely aged out as a "prospect" but I'd say there's still a small chance he becomes a contributor at the NHL level. If he were still a "prospect" he'd be somewhere outside the top 10 in the system.

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1 hour ago, Gatorman0519 said:

CJ Smith?  He needs to get more of a look this year.  I thought he played decent the little time he had and did very well in Rochester.

I think he had his chance and I don't see him being much better next year.

Borgen is the one I hope steps into a role for next year. 

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2 hours ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

I’m not so sure.  Cozens looks like a top 6 forward which is awesome, but UPL has the potential to be a Vezina winning type No.1 goalie.  It’s close, but I’m giving the nod to UPL.  After them there is a pretty big gap.

 

I look at it as who would get drafted 1st, and it’s pretty clear that would be Cozens.

UPL is The among the top goalie prospects in the world; those usually go late first at best.

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Sabres Prospects

2019 - Cozens, Johnson, Portillo, Huglen, Cederqvist and Rousek plus Euro FA Routsalainen (21)

2018 - Samuelsson, Pekar, Cronholm, Kukkonen and Worge-Kreu plus Euro FA Pilut (23) and NCAA FA Oglevie (now 24) - Graduate Dahlin

2017 - Davidsson, UPL, Laaksonen, Bryson and Weissbach plus NCAA FA Smith (24) - Graduate Mittelstadt

2016 - Nylander, Asplund, Fitzgerald, Murray, Nyberg, Glotov plus Thompson (Stl 1st rd pick)

2015 - Borgen - Graduate Eichel

2014 - Johannson, Olofsson., Hickey (3rd rd by Calg) & Dougherty (2nd rd by Nsh) -  Graduate - Reinhart  Note: Cornel an RFA but not likely to return

I count 32 prospects with 2 over-agers in Oglevie and Smith.

Here is my Top 20 following the draft (no over-agers)

1. UPL - making move to pro game, but was arguably the best non-pro goalie in the world last season

2. Cozens - Potential to be a top line winger or 2nd line center in Buffalo

3. Olofsson - former 7th rd pick looks likely to get a top 9 wing job in Buffalo this fall.  Looked good with Jack during late season callup.

4. Johnson - 1st rd all around D.  Description remind me of a faster Tallinder

5. Asplund - great second half in Roch.  If he builds on it this season, he could be in Buffalo sooner then later.

6. Pilut - dominated in Rochester and looked decent in Buffalo early but ended up injured.  Excellent puck mover we need on the 3rd pair.

7. Borgen - Physical stay at home D who skates decently.  Bogo's replacement after this season.

8. Thompson - Former 1st rd pick who has played in the NHL most of the last two season, but still hasn't quite figured out how to use his massive frame.  Looked good in late demotion to Roch.  Still think he has 20 goal potential.

9. Laaksonen - Maybe should be higher, but hasn't played in NA yet.  However his physical growth combined with a flashy all around game could put him in the top 2 or 3 if the improvement continues.

10. Nylander - Don't like keeping him in the top 10, but talent is there maybe just needs to play with top talent to bring out his best.  Make or break year for him.

11. Pekar - Our resident pest who has having a good CHL season before an injury.  Starts this season in Roch and I envision a more talented and more disciplined Kaleta long-term.

12. Samuelsson - Physical stay at home D has solid potential but needs more time in college to help his O development.

13. Ruotsalainen - Small Forward who scored 21 goals and added 21 assists in the Finnish Elite league.  Could be Olofsson 2.0. Could move quickly up this board.

14. Davidsson - I think of him as Asplund 2.0.  Had a good second half last year.  One more year in SHL (with a new team) and then here.

15. Bryson - Jbot seems to really like this small D's all around game.  Starts in Roch this season.  We'll see if his game translates to the pros.

16. Dougherty - A Former 2nd rd pick who I thought he impressed with solid stay at home play in Rochester.  An RFA, it will be interesting if he is re-signed and given a chance to play in Buffalo.

17. Portillo - 6'6" Swedish G making the move to NA and the USHL and then Michigan.  Could very well have UPL type potential based on his excellent play in the Swedish Jr leagues.  Still one never quite knows with goalies, but he is likely 4 years away.

18. Huglen - Kind of a Mitts lite kind of player.  Nice frame but needs 20 lbs of muscle to reach potential. 

19. Weissbach - Small forward was nearly a pt a game scorer for Wisconsin last year

20. Fitzgerald - Making the jump to Rochester after 4 mediocre years at BC.  Still put up 3 pts in 4 late season AHL games.  

Others to watch Cederqvist, Kukkonen and Glotov (I want to see what he can do in Rochester)

 

 

 

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I don't want to seem overly negative, but given the long period of this rebuild, it is disappointing that our prospect pool is not much stronger at this point.  The only prospect with a likelihood to contribute to the Sabres this season is Olofsson.  In some ways, this may not be a fair assessment of the overall situation, since many of the current Sabres, such as Dahlin and Mittelstadt, were recent draft picks and can could be considered prospects, but I do think our prospect pool should be stronger and deeper after years of finishing near or at the bottom of the standings.

Another unpopular view is that some of our recent top picks have been mild or significant disappointments given where they were drafted.  I think Reinhart is playing pretty well, but at times I feel like we should be expecting more from a second overall pick in the draft.  I am not sure if Nylander will develop, and I have no idea what kind of player Mittelstadt will become.  If this assessment is accurate, I don't think it is all on the specific players.  There are other variables and considerations, including the quality of teammates, coaching and mentoring, that play role in the development of players, but, at a minimum, if the Sabres are going to have success in the future, we need to hit on our draft picks in the top 10 of the draft.

Edited by jahnyc

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Given that leadership is young, Jack and Sam with Mitts and Dhalin and Montour being added I think the time lag is a maturity issue as much as anything and remember these guys aren't college grads.  Jack and Sam just coming into their own.  I expect big steps forward from Casey and Dahls and am hopeful that some of the younger or newer guys a la Borgen, Oloffson and Nylander take a step forward. Next year ad in Cozens, Pekar and Asplund and could have a very good team.  Gonna depend on coach and player development but I could see this as another slow year of ups and downs.

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I actually am happy with where our prospect pool is at right now. And a guy like Mittelstadt is essentially still a prospect without qualifying for these lists.

I think the top 14 guys named on the list above have NHL potential with the rest being longshots who could surprise. Obviously not all 14 will pan out. Probably not even half. But that’s a good group.

 

Also, as much as he has struggled, I’ve always had some sort of weird confidence that Alex Nylander will become a good NHL forward. Whether or not that’s here remains to be seen.

Edited by Hoss
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15 minutes ago, jahnyc said:

I don't want to seem overly negative, but given the long period of this rebuild, it is disappointing that our prospect pool is not much stronger at this point.  The only prospect with a likelihood to contribute to the Sabres this season is Olofsson.  In some ways, this may not be a fair assessment of the overall situation, since many of the current Sabres, such as Dahlin and Mittelstadt, were recent draft picks and can could be considered prospects, but I do think our prospect pool should be stronger and deeper after years of finishing near or at the bottom of the standings.

Another unpopular view is that some of our recent top picks have been mild or significant disappointments given where they were drafted.  I think Reinhart is playing pretty well, but at times I feel like we should be expecting more from a second overall pick in the draft.  I am not sure if Nylander will develop, and I have no idea what kind of player Mittelstadt will become.  If this assessment is accurate, I don't think it is all on the specific players.  There are other variables and considerations, including the quality of teammates, coaching and mentoring, that play role in the development of players, but, at a minimum, if the Sabres are going to have success in the future, we need to hit on our draft picks in the top 10 of the draft.

 I think the problem isn't the current prospect pool which is excellent, but the failure of the previous wave of prospects to make an impact on the Sabres.

7th overall pick Nylander is a bust so far.

2nd rd picks from 2013-2015 - Lemieux, Guhle, Cornel, Karabacek, Compher Hurley, Carrier and Bailey plus Baptiste and Fasching made little or no impact on the team either because they were traded or failed to develop.  Just imagine how different (better) our depth would be if just 3 of these 10 player earned spots on the Sabres long-term.

As to the prospect pool, 5 of our top 10 will play for the Sabres this coming season, including 4 guys, Nylander, Olofsson, Pilut and Thompson who should/might make the team out of camp.  Borgen may as well is Bogo isn't ready and Asplund will likely earn a callup as well.  

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More than a fair point and true that the previous wave of prospects failed to make an impact.  I just don't have a lot of confidence that Nylander, Pilut and Thompson, even if they make the team out of camp, will be quality players in the near term (and maybe the long term as well).

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2 minutes ago, jahnyc said:

More than a fair point and true that the previous wave of prospects failed to make an impact.  I just don't have a lot of confidence that Nylander, Pilut and Thompson, even if they make the team out of camp, will be quality players in the near term (and maybe the long term as well).

I understand the skepticism.  Pilut seemed to easily moved off the puck at times.  Nylander has yet to prove he is a legit pro.  Thompson has yet to figure out how to control his 6'6" frame.  That's why they call them prospects.  Nylander is the one I'm most skeptical about.  Thompson will phyiscally develop and Pilut was in year 1 in NA.  He needs to adjust to the speed of the NHL and that should come sooner then later.

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Pilut’s biggest hinderance this next season will be his shoulder surgery will delay his offseason training program and impair his ability to add upper body strength. 

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I’m going to save my ranking until after development camp and think it would be cool if @Hoss does a poll for this over the summer once camp is over.

I will say Thompson has played 106 NHL games and should not be on this list. Imo, The list should be limited to Calder-eligible players.

Rookie Qualifications

To be considered a rookie, a player must not have played in more than 25 NHL games in any preceding seasons, nor in six or more NHL games in each of any two preceding seasons. Any player at least 26 years of age (by September 15th of that season) is not considered a rookie

Edited by dudacek

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9 minutes ago, dudacek said:

I’m going to save my ranking until after development camp and think it would be cool if @Hoss does a poll for this over the summer once camp is over.

I will say Thompson has played 106 NHL games and should not be on this list. Imo, The list should be limited to Calder-eligible players.

Rookie Qualifications

To be considered a rookie, a player must not have played in more than 25 NHL games in any preceding seasons, nor in six or more NHL games in each of any two preceding seasons. Any player at least 26 years of age (by September 15th of that season) is not considered a rookie

Normally I’d agree with this, but Thompson is only 21 and was demoted to the AHL and finished the season there.  IMHO 21 year old guys playing in the minors are prospects not NHL players.

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14 minutes ago, dudacek said:

I’m going to save my ranking until after development camp and think it would be cool if @Hoss does a poll for this over the summer once camp is over.

 I will say Thompson has played 106 NHL games and should not be on this list. Imo, The list should be limited to Calder-eligible players.

Rookie Qualifications

To be considered a rookie, a player must not have played in more than 25 NHL games in any preceding seasons, nor in six or more NHL games in each of any two preceding seasons. Any player at least 26 years of age (by September 15th of that season) is not considered a rookie

I can do a series of polls to get a consensus on our prospects. Maybe I'll do top 15.

Just now, GASabresIUFAN said:

Normally I’d agree with this, but Thompson is only 21 and was demoted to the AHL and finished the season there.  IMHO 21 year old guys playing in the minors are prospects not NHL players.

I don't think he was demoted under normal circumstances, though. I think they just wanted to get him playing in the AHL for a bit so he'd be ready for the playoffs.

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4 minutes ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

Normally I’d agree with this, but Thompson is only 21 and was demoted to the AHL and finished the season there.  IMHO 21 year old guys playing in the minors are prospects not NHL players.

 

 

3 minutes ago, Hoss said:

I don't think he was demoted under normal circumstances, though. I think they just wanted to get him playing in the AHL for a bit so he'd be ready for the playoffs.

 

I think Hoss has it here. 

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If there where sending him down for the AHL playoffs with 9 games left in the AHL it stands to reason they would have sent down the struggling Mitts as well.  However they didn’t.  

Thompson before being sent down had 1 pt (an assist) in his last 23 games from Jan 30 to March 26 with 4 healthy scratches. Bill Hoppe wrote at the time that he was being sent down to regain his confidence.  https://www.cbssports.com/nhl/players/playerpage/2245519/tage-thompson.

Edited by GASabresIUFAN

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They made it clear a few weeks before he was sent down that they were going to send him down so he could play and succeed in the AHL playoffs once the NHL season was effectively done. He only missed the last weekend of an NHL season well-past lost. Nothing in management's demeanor suggested that this was a sign that he had lost his spot on the team; it seemed pretty clear to me they had told him the opposite.

To characterize him as a player who needs development is entirely fair. And it is possible we could see him losing his spot in training camp. But that is also true of guys like Sobotka and Wilson and Nelson and even guys like Girgensons and Casey and Okposo. This is not a Pilut situation, where he got his cup of coffee and was deemed not ready. Tage was in Buffalo all year.

Whether we consider him an NHL player yet or not (I don't, so I certainly see your point) is kind of irrelevant, IMO. To characterize him as a player Botterill doesn't have pencilled in as one of our 13-14 NHL forwards to start next season goes against everything we've seen Jason do and say do far.

Edited by dudacek

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39 minutes ago, dudacek said:

They made it clear a few weeks before he was sent down that they were going to send him down so he could play and succeed in the AHL playoffs once the NHL season was effectively done. He only missed the last weekend of an NHL season well-past lost. Nothing in management's demeanor suggested that this was a sign that he had lost his spot on the team; it seemed pretty clear to me they had told him the opposite.

To characterize him as a player who needs development is entirely fair. And it is possible we could see him losing his spot in training camp. But that is also true of guys like Sobotka and Wilson and Nelson and even guys like Girgensons and Casey and Okposo. This is not a Pilut situation, where he got his cup of coffee and was deemed not ready. Tage was in Buffalo all year.

Whether we consider him an NHL player yet or not (I don't, so I certainly see your point) is kind of irrelevant, IMO. To characterize him as a player Botterill doesn't have pencilled in as one of our 13-14 NHL forwards to start next season goes against everything we've seen Jason do and say do far.

If the guy isn't NHL ready, was in the AHL,  still needs development and if only 21, that makes him a prospect.  Olofsson is also a prospect and Jbot considers him to be one of our top 13 or 14 forward.  I think looking at NHL games played is an arbitrary measure.  We aren't determining who is an NHL rookie.  They accept "rookies" up to age 26.  Most prospect monitors, like Baker, eliminate guys from their list over 23.  We are trying to get a list of our players moving through the pipeline and where they fit on our depth chart short and long-term.

From my standpoint he has played in the AHL the last two seasons at various points, is 21, and hasn't established himself as a full-time NHL.  That screams prospect not player and therefore is on my prospect list.  

Feel free to publish your own list and use whatever standard you want.  

Edited by GASabresIUFAN

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So, there’s the NHL definition of a prospect. And then there’s the “this is my opinion of what a prospect is”  definition. Ok then.... I guess that eliminates the chance for a group of fans to judge on the same level and rate our prospects from #1 to #20. It would be nice if there was a set in stone (no opinion) definition that everyone can base their rankings on. Oh wait, I think there is.

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20 minutes ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

If the guy isn't NHL ready, was in the AHL,  still needs development and if only 21, that makes him a prospect.  Olofsson is also a prospect and Jbot considers him to be one of our top 13 or 14 forward.  I think looking at NHL games played is an arbitrary measure.  We aren't determining who is an NHL rookie.  They accept "rookies" up to age 26.  Most prospect monitors, like Baker, eliminate guys from their list over 23.  We are trying to get a list of our players moving through the pipeline and where they fit on our depth chart short and long-term.

From my standpoint he has played in the AHL the last two seasons at various points, is 21, and hasn't established himself as a full-time NHL.  That screams prospect not player and therefore is on my prospect list.  

Feel free to publish your own list and use whatever standard you want.  

All the guidelines we choose — age, NHL experience, floor, ceiling, projected arrival — will be arbitrary. I was trying to help us come to with a consensus Sabrespace list based on criteria we all agreed on.

I'm fine with whatever @Hoss chooses since he will be running the poll, but I'd like to see that spelled out.

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6 minutes ago, dudacek said:

All the guidelines we choose — age, NHL experience, floor, ceiling, projected arrival — will be arbitrary. I was trying to help us come to with a consensus Sabrespace list based on criteria we all agreed on.

I'm fine with whatever @Hoss chooses since he will be running the poll, but I'd like to see that spelled out.

Use whatever criteria you want, but maybe the easiest way to determine them is use whatever Chris Baker uses to define a "prospect" as he seems to be the expert on those that are Sabres property.

And it might be interesting to see how this board's ranking compares to Baker's.

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5 minutes ago, Taro T said:

Use whatever criteria you want, but maybe the easiest way to determine them is use whatever Chris Baker uses to define a "prospect" as he seems to be the expert on those that are Sabres property.

And it might be interesting to see how this board's ranking compares to Baker's.

We will indeed be using Baker's definition of a prospect (which I believe would not include Thompson). I have to find it. I know he ages out anybody over 23.

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2 hours ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

If there where sending him down for the AHL playoffs with 9 games left in the AHL it stands to reason they would have sent down the struggling Mitts as well.  However they didn’t.  

Thompson before being sent down had 1 pt (an assist) in his last 23 games from Jan 30 to March 26 with 4 healthy scratches. Bill Hoppe wrote at the time that he was being sent down to regain his confidence.  https://www.cbssports.com/nhl/players/playerpage/2245519/tage-thompson.

I’m willing to bet that when they signed Mittelstadt, they made he guarantee that he wouldn’t be sent to the AHL. It can’t be put on paper, but it’s a gentleman’s agreement they want to honor. 

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