The Sabres have five forwards and five defensemen playing in the CHL, including several high profile prospects. Multiple first and second round picks are playing key roles for their clubs, including forwards Tyler Ennis, Luke Adam and defenseman T.J. Brennan.
Tyler Ennis, C (WHL – Medicine Hat Tigers)
Acquired: 2008 Draft – Round 1, 26th overall
Ennis has been off to a strong start this season, with 13 goals and 18 assists in 26 games, good for 12th in WHL scoring. He served as an assistant captain in the Canada/Russia Challenge for the WHL, and scored a power-play goal in one of the two games, a 5-0 romp. Ennis has consistently performed at a high level and been one of Canada’s premier prospects for his age group, both of which have continued to be true this season.
Luke Adam, C (QMJHL – Montreal Juniors)
Acquired: 2008 Draft – Round 2, 44th overall
The big forward has 10 goals and 10 assists in 20 games this season. He has spent time on the power play, and has been given a chance to be a force on offense for the Montreal Juniors. On a roster with talented forwards like Nick Layton and Angelo Esposito (ATL), Adam has stood out, and is second on the team in scoring. He was invited to play in the 2008 Canada/Russia Challenge, and contributed 2 total goals in two games. Fellow Buffalo prospect T.J. Brennan is also one of the team’s stars on defense.
Paul Byron, C (QMJHL – Gatineau Olympiques)
Acquired: 2007 Draft – Round 6, 179th overall
With 10 goals and 17 assists in 25 games, the speedy center is leading his team in scoring. Although Gatineau has struggled mightily this season, Byron did spark a late comeback win against Montreal in mid-November to break a 13-game losing streak. He also participated in the 2008 Canada/Russia Challenge for the QMJHL, and added a goal in each of the two games.
Jean-Simon Allard, C (QMJHL – Quebec Remparts)
Acquired: 2007 Draft – Round 5, 147th overall
The 6’2, 189 lbs. center has continued his strong step forward from last season, with 8 goals and 13 assists in 24 games this year. On a team that has received a good deal of publicity from legendary goaltender Patrick Roy’s tenure as coach, Allard and fellow Buffalo prospect Benjamin Breault have been leaders of the team on offense.
Jacob Lagace, LW (QMJHL – Chicoutimi Sagueneens)
Acquired: 2008 Draft – Round 5, 134th overall
The winger has scored 10 goals and 11 assists through 22 games this season. Lagace is creative and dangerous in space, but has not been particularly strong on the puck. His skating and stickhandling are very good for the QMJHL level. For a late-round pick, he is showing a good deal of promise, and has time to improve his physical strength.
T.J. Brennan, D (QMJHL – Montreal Juniors)
Acquired: 2007 Draft – Round 2, 31st overall
There are high expectations on Brennan, and he has not disappointed this season, serving on the Montreal Juniors’ top defensive pairing. He has contributed 3 goals, 9 assists, and 10 PIM in 22 games, and has often been the catalyst to offensive rushes with his deft passing. His defensive technique has also been sound, along with flashing a nice wrister from the point on the power play. Hockey’s Future ranks the 19-year-old fifth among Buffalo prospects.
Tyler Myers, D (WHL – Kelowna Rockets)
Acquired: 2008 Draft – Round 1, 13th overall
Buffalo moved up one spot to select Myers in the first round this year, and while he still has great promise, he has had an inconsistent season to date. He has had lackluster nights in terms of skating and stickhandling, and suffered a bizarre broken tooth injury in late October. On the plus side, he has been a mainstay on the power play for a high scoring Kelowna team, and has added 3 goals and 14 assists in 22 games. He has also shown some chippyness with 55 PIM this season.
Jordon Southorn, D (QMJHL – Prince Edward Island Rocket)
Acquired: 2008 Draft – Round 4, 104th overall
Southorn has stepped up to be an assistant captain this season, posting 3 goals and 13 assists in 25 games. Despite wearing an ‘A’ on his sweater, his decision making has been suspect and he needs to fit in better to the team concept. He is also prone to turnovers in his own zone and awkward passes. The defenseman is strong on the puck and is a nice skater, but needs to eliminate his youthful mistakes.
Drew Schiestel, D (OHL – Niagara IceDogs)
Acquired: 2007 Draft – Round 2, 59th overall
With 2 goals, 21 assists in 23 games, Schiestel is fifth among defensemen in OHL scoring. He has also added 33 penalty minutes, showing a more aggressive style than in past years.
Nick Crawford, D (OHL – Saginaw Spirit)
Acquired: 2008 Draft – Round 6, 164th overall
Crawford has 1 goal, 12 assists and a +9 rating in 21 games this season. He played in the first game of the Canada/Russia Challenge, and contributed an assist. At age 18, he has time to develop into an NHL-level player, particularly as an offensive contributor.
Glen Erickson and Kevin Forbes contributed to this article.