Photo: Guelph winger Jason Dickinson has been a standout at both ends of the ice for the Storm. The Dallas Stars draft pick registered nine assists in his last five games (courtesy of Aaron Bell/OHL Images)
Welcome to the January 2014 edition of On the Rush, a monthly column featuring prospects at various levels of competition who are either exceeding expectations or falling a little behind.
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: 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.
Photo: Selected 23rd overall in 2010, defenseman Mark Pysyk is one of several talented puck-moving defensemen in the Buffalo Sabres prospect pool. (courtesy of Fred Kfoury/Icon SMI)
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.