Photo: Team Russia players Nikita Zadorov (L) and Anton Slepyshev celebrate Zadorov’s go-ahead goal in their country’s 5-3 win over the USA at the 2014 World Junior Championship (courtesy of ANDREAS HILLERGREN/AFP/Getty Images)
After falling behind Team USA 3-2 in the first period of their quarterfinal match at the 2014 World Junior Championship, Russia proceeded to score the next three goals in the game to secure a 5-3 win along with a trip to the semi-finals.
Photo: Defenseman Brady Austin has provided a steadying presence along the London Knights blue line. Austin started the 2013-14 season with the Belleville Bulls, but was traded to the Knights on October 9th. (courtesy of Aaron Bell/OHL Images)
Saying the Buffalo Sabres are off to a tumultuous start would be an understatement. With just six wins in 30 games, their point percentage of .233 projects to be the worst in franchise history. The Sabres have recently put together better performances under interim head coach Ted Nolan, but remain dead last in the NHL.
Photo: London Knights defenseman and Buffalo Sabres prospect Nikita Zadorov returned to junior hockey in style last week, picking up three assists in Russia’s 5-2 win over the OHL in the Subway Super Series (courtesy of Aaron Bell/OHL Images)
Buffalo, NY is just over 230 kilometres away from London, ON — but the distance between the OHL and the NHL is far greater. But when the Buffalo Sabres decided to return 6’5 blueliner Nikita Zadorov to the junior league’s Knights, London’s dreams of a Memorial Cup win just got a whole lot closer to reality.
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 Gustav Possler tries to score for Team Sweden during the 2013 USA Hockey Junior Evaluation Camp in August. Possler was selected by the Buffalo Sabres in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Draft. (courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The future of the Buffalo Sabres is now. Five of the six players drafted by the Sabres in the first round since 2010 – Mark Pysyk, Joel Armia, Mikhail Grigorenko, Zemgus Girgensons, and Rasmus Ristolainen – are expected to be key contributors this season.