With only two playoff appearances in the past six seasons, it is abundantly clear the Buffalo Sabres need to retool their roster and head in a new direction. Finishing last in the Northeast Division, the team's worst showing since the 2003-04 lockout, general manager Darcy Regier is preparing to usher in the post-Lindy Ruff era of Sabres hockey.
After finishing last in the Northeast Division for the first time since 2004 and missing the playoffs for the second consecutive season, the Buffalo Sabres are hitting the reset button. The first move was saying goodbye to head coach Lindy Ruff after 1,165 games behind the bench, then shipping captain Jason Pominville to the Minnesota Wild for two prospects and two picks.
The Buffalo Sabres tend to draft players out of the CHL, and as a result have fewer high-end prospects in Europe and the collegiate levels. Even when the Sabres elected to drafted European-born players with their first round picks, as they did twice in 2012 by taking Mikhail Grigorenko and Zemgus Girgensons, both players were playing in North American leagues at the time.
Nine of the 10 players featured in the 31-40 spots of the Hockey's Future Spring ranking of the Top 50 NHL prospects were also ranked in the Fall edition, though there has been some significant movement throughout the grouping. Much of the movement has to do with how some of these players have dealt with adjusting to a new level of competition this season, with some excelling and others struggling.
The Buffalo Sabres prospect pool is in a state of transition, with many of their top prospects, such as Mikhail Grigorenko and Marcus Foligno, now contributing to the NHL roster. Many of the Sabres other prospects, such as Andrey Makarov and Daniel Catenacci, are dominating their respective competition levels and appear poised to move on to the professional level next year. In general, the Sabres have good depth at every position, though they are deepest at center and on defense.