Photo: Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen (55) remains is the top prospect for the Buffalo Sabres. Ristolainen has split the 2013-14 season between the NHL and AHL. (courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
With over 40 prospects currently in their system, and at least 10 picks in the first two rounds of the 2014 and 2015 NHL Drafts, the Buffalo Sabres are aggressively re-building. Two players graduate from the fall Top 20 rankings – former University of Maine standout Brian Flynn is now a fixture with the big club and winger Corey Tropp is now a Columbus Blue Jacket after being waived in November.
Photo: Forward Phil Varone currently leads the Rochester Americans with 29 points through 32 games. Varone is in his third year at the AHL level. (courtesy of Abelimages/Getty Images)
The Rochester Americans, the AHL affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres, made their return to the Spengler Cup this winter after placing third in 1996. However, the Amerks were outmatched in the prestigious tournament this time around, allowing 15 goals and losing all three of their games. Participating in the tournament meant taking a 12-day break from AHL play, but three extra games' worth of experience can be beneficial to a young team.
Photo: Texas Stars forward and Dallas Stars prospect Colton Sceviour’s strong start to the 2013-14 season earned him a December call-up to the NHL’s Stars (courtesy of John Rivera/Icon SMI)
Injuries and call-ups are starting to take a toll on some teams in the American Hockey League (AHL), but out west several first- and second-year players are filling the void and goal scoring is coming from everywhere.
Photo: Forward Zemgus Girgensons is one of four teenagers to play for the Buffalo Sabres this season. The Latvian-born Girgensons was selected 14th overall in the 2012 NHL Draft. (courtesy of Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)
Currently amid a full-scale rebuild, the Buffalo Sabres have 43 prospects in their system, including seven first-round picks, giving them both quantity and quality at every position. The Sabres also have many prospects already contributing at the NHL level, including forwards Zemgus Girgensons, Mikhail Grigorenko, and Johan Larsson.
Photo: Forward Mikhail Grigorenko is expected to have a strong 2013-14 season with the Buffalo Sabres. Grigorenko played in 25 games with the Sabres last season, managing a goal and four assists. (courtesy of Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)
The Buffalo Sabres continue their re-build with a sense of optimism this coming season. Mikhail Grigorenko steps in full-time as one of the team's top centers while Finnish power forward Joel Armia prepares to test his scoring abilities on North American ice.