While there has recently been more attention paid to some of the new blood in the Buffalo organization, such as newly-acquired forwards Tim Connolly and Taylor Pyatt, this is also a good time to recognize the work of the Sabres’ prospects who were with the organization throughout the 2000-01 season.
The purpose of this article is to present a final ranking of the top 15 prospects in the organization as of June 2nd, 2001. This would exclude players such as Barrett Heisten, Mike Zigomanis and some of the other prospects who weren’t signed at the June 1st signing deadline. Also excluded from this list are the 2001 draft choices, as the focus of this article will be strictly those players who were Buffalo property through the 00-01 campaign.
G Mika Noronen
began the year as Buffalo’s top-rated prospect, and, despite a somewhat shaky start to his 2000-01 season, he remains atop the final rankings for this season. G Ryan Miller made a strong push to grab the top spot, but Mika gets the nod due to the fact that he plays against tougher competition. D Brian Campbell, RW Norm Milley and D Henrik Tallinder round out the top 5.
The Top 15 for 2000-01
Mika Noronen, Goaltender
Mika had a brief taste of the NHL at the beginning of the season, but was returned to Rochester to continue his development. Mika struggled upon his return to the AHL, but, by season’s end, he regained the MVP form that he displayed d Read more»
Cote’s One for the Gene Pool
Talking to Cape Breton Screaming Eagles Coach Pascal Vincent about blueliner Jean-Philippe Cote, the two things that stick out in his mind about his defenseman are “leadership and work ethic.” Vincent can’t say enough about his player when it comes to intangibles. He “puts his mistakes behind him” on those rare occasions that he does make one and is more or less the glue that holds the team together. Proof of this, the coach points out, can be seen in the fact that in the two games his Captain missed last year due to injury, the Screaming Eagles were outscored 14-2.
While some of this is to be expected seeing as he is the son of former NHLer, Alain Cote, Vincent nonetheless applauds Cote for his dedication to the game especially in the off-season.
That said, all of the dedication in the world does not an NHL player make if he has nothing else, but the coach, who first saw him when he was the bench boss for the U-17 National Team, knows there is more to him than that. “90% of the time he makes the right decision when he passes the puck” and his passes are “usually on the tape.” What’s more, the defenseman knows enough to trail the play after making that pass and has demonstrated “good decision-making when it comes to the pinch.” While Vincent admits that Cote “is not an elegant skater” he rates his speed above average and his lateral movement as excellent stating that “he rarely gets beat one on one”. While his pivot easily makes the grade in the Q though, he feels that Cote will have to speed Read more»