While the current team may be nothing to write home about, the Buffalo Sabres are widely considered to have one of the best prospect pools of any team in the NHL, with several players putting up solid numbers with their respective junior, college and minor league teams.
Defenseman Nikita Zadorov, who the Sabres drafted 16th overall in the first round of the 2013 NHL Draft, is having quite the season with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) after the Sabres re-assigned him to the team in November after seven games with the big club. In 36 games with the Knights this season, Zadorov has 11 goals and 19 assists for 30 points, also amassing 43 penalty minutes and a plus-30 rating. He had six goals and 19 assists for 25 points in 63 games with the Knights last season, to go along with 54 penalty minutes and a plus-33 rating. In the seven games he played with the Sabres this season, Zadorov had one goal and four penalty minutes, with a minus-4 rating.
JT Compher, a left wing drafted 35th overall in the second round of the 2013 draft, is in his first season of collegiate hockey with the University of Michigan. He has 31 points in 35 games on 11 goals and 20 assists, to go along with 22 penalty minutes and an even plus-minus rating.
Right wing Nicholas Baptiste is exceeding expectations with the Sudbury Wolves of the OHL this season after being drafted 69th overall by the Sabres in the third round of the 2013 draft. Baptiste has 45 goals and 44 assists for 89 points in 65 games with the Wolves this season, while also posting 59 penalty minutes and a plus 20 rating. In 130 games with the Wolves the previous two seasons before being drafted, he had a total of 29 goals and 46 assists for 75 points. He also carried a minus-8 rating and had 86 total penalty minutes in his first two seasons with the Wolves.
Williamsville, New York native Justin Bailey was having a pretty good season with the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL before missing the last 14 games of the season with an upper body injury. In 54 games before the injury, the right wing had 25 goals and 18 assists for 43 points, while tallying 20 penalty minutes and a minus-12 rating. In 59 games with the team last season, Bailey had 36 points on 17 goals and 19 assists, 34 penalty minutes, and a plus-22 rating.
William Carrier, a Left wing who was acquired from St. Louis in the trade that sent Ryan Miller and Steve Ott to the Blues, was drafted 57th overall by the Blues in the third round of the 2013 draft. Carrier spent the first 39 games of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League season with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, scoring 12 goals and 29 assists for 41 points. He then joined Drummondville Voltigeurs, where he had 10 goals and 14 assists for 24 points in 27 games. In 56 total games this season in the QMJHL, Carrier had 87 penalty minutes and a minus-1 rating.
Hudson Fasching, acquired from the Wild in the trade that sent Cody McCormick and Matt Moulson to Minnesota, was originally drafted by the Los Angeles Kings 118th overall in the fourth round of the 2013 draft. Currently playing collegiate hockey with the University of Minnesota, the right wing has 12 goals and 16 assists for 28 points, 28 penalty minutes, and an even plus-minus rating in 35 games.
Since being sent back to the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL back in January after 18 games with the Sabres this season, Center Mikhail Grigorenko has been on a tear, with 15 goals and 24 assists for 39 points in 25 games, to go along with six penalty minutes and a plus 15 rating. In 115 career games with the Remparts, Grigorenko has 85 goals and 93 assists for 178 points, 26 penalty minutes, and a plus-60 rating. Grigorenko was drafted by the Sabres 12th overall in the 2012 draft, just two picks before Zemgus Girgensons.
Connor Hurley, drafted 38th overall by the Sabres in the second round of the 2013 draft, is currently in his second season in the United States Hockey League. After spending the first 21 games of the season with the Muskegon Lumberjacks and scoring three goals and 11 assists for 14 points, Hurley was traded to the Green Bay Gamblers, where he has since been on a roll with nine goals and 19 assists for 28 points in 28 games. In 49 total games this season, Hurley has 12 goals and 30 assists for 42 total points, while also accruing 32 penalty minutes and a minus-9 rating.
Goaltender Linus Ullmark, drafted 163rd overall by the Sabres in 2012, is having a stellar season with MODO of the Swedish Hockey League, posting a 17-16-0 record, a .931 save percentage, and a 2.08 goals against average in 35 games played.
While the present day Sabres are struggling this season, with the team having a 20-42-8 record with 12 games remaining, the future looks bright in Buffalo.