Top prospects for Buffalo Sabres

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NHL.com is providing in-depth analysis for each of its 31 teams from Nov. 16-Dec. 16. Today, the top five prospects for the Buffalo Sabres, according to NHL.com.

 

[Sabres 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Fantasy breakdown | Behind the Numbers]

 

1. Dylan Cozens, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 7 pick in 2019 NHL Draft

2019-20 season: Lethbridge (WHL): 51 GP, 38-47-85

The 19-year-old was third in the Western Hockey League in points per game last season (1.67) and said he’s ready to take the next step to the NHL. The Sabres believe that is the case as well and hope newly acquired center Eric Staal will mentor Cozens and help his development. The plan is to ease him into the lineup, either at his natural center position or on the wing. 

“We don’t want to put Dylan Cozens in a position he’s not ready for,” general manager Kevyn Adams said.

Cozens (6-foot-3, 188 pounds) helped Canada win the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship and is participating in Hockey Canada’s national junior team selection camp for the 2021 WJC from Nov. 16-Dec. 13 in Red Deer, Alberta.

Projected NHL arrival: This season

 

2. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, G

How acquired: Selected with No. 54 pick in 2017 NHL Draft

2019-20 season: Rochester (AHL): 10 GP, 3-4-4, 3.15 GAA, .874 SV%; Cincinnati (ECHL): 23 GP, 12-7-3, 2.24 GAA, .912 SV%

The 21-year-old seems to have recovered and rediscovered his flexibility after having double hip surgery in April 2019. Luukkonen (6-4, 220) is on loan to TPS of Liiga, the top professonal league in Finland, through Dec. 18, but an extension of the deal is an option if the start of NHL training camps is delayed. The NHL season is targeted to begin Jan. 1.

“There’s something to be said for continuity and having guys in good situations where at the end of this it’s about forward trajectory and making sure the development continues,” Sabres director of player development Matt Ellis said.

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

 

3. Jack Quinn, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 8 pick in 2020 NHL Draft

2019-20 season: Ottawa (OHL): 62 GP, 52-37-89

Quinn, like Cozens, is participating in Hockey Canada’s national junior team selection camp. Unlike Cozens, the 19-year-old right wing (6-0, 176) is not expected to reach the NHL this season and could be returned to junior. He signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Sabres on Nov. 16.

“In a perfect-world scenario, we’re ecstatic that Jack has been invited to participate in Team Canada’s camp beginning in mid-November and hopefully see that through to the end of the tournament, which would be great for Jack and his development in the short term,” Ellis said.

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

Video: Sabres draft F Jack Quinn No. 8

 

4. Mattias Samuelsson, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 32 pick in 2018 NHL Draft

2019-20 season: Western Michigan (NCAA): 30 GP, 2-12-14

The Sabres are excited about how Samuelsson, the son of former NHL defenseman Kjell Samuelsson, brings size (6-4, 223), physicality and leadership to the rink. The 20-year-old was captain for the United States at the 2020 WJC and an alternate captain at Western Michigan. The plan is for him to play for Rochester of the American Hockey League this season. 

Samuelsson, who signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Sabres on March 25, said the organization has given him a lot of positive feedback.

“It was mostly to keep going, stay aggressive,” he said. “I’m a bigger guy. Obviously, everyone knows that’s my style of game.”

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

 

5. Jacob Bryson, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 99 pick in 2017 Draft

2019-20 Season: Rochester (AHL): 61 GP, 4-23-27

The 22-year-old will get a long look at training camp and try to land an NHL job on the left side, where Buffalo has Rasmus Dahlin, Jake McCabe and Matt Irwin.

Bryson offsets his size (5-9, 179) with good speed and developing offensive skills. Adams said Bryson is among a handful of Sabres prospects on the cusp of playing in the NHL but that there will be no rushing them.

“It’s trying to put people in a position to succeed in terms of your Sabres lineup right through down into your Rochester lineup,” Adams said. “And then ultimately team success should follow if you’re putting players in the right spots.”

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

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