Photo: Finnish forward Joel Armia is among the many promising young prospects in the Buffalo Sabres' system. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Slowly, the Buffalo Sabres are shedding their reputation for being an undersized team severely lacking in the toughness department. At the 2012 NHL Draft, GM Darcy Regier selected two marquee centers, Mikhail Grigorenko and Zemgus Girgensons, with the 12th and 14th overall picks, giving them size, depth and versatility at that position.
Photo: Center Mikhail Grigorenko was one of two centers the Sabres selected in the first round of the 2012 NHL Draft. (Aaron Bell/CHL Images)
The Buffalo Sabres entered the 2012 NHL Draft with four of the top 50 picks for the first time since 1998. Sabres brass knew they needed to get bigger and add more depth up the middle and addressed that by selecting five centers, including two in the first round. General Manager Darcy Regier had a clear plan in this draft, which was executed to near perfection.
Photo: Talented center Mikhail Grigorenko fell out of the 2012 NHL Draft's top 10 and into the laps of the Buffalo Sabres, who snapped Grigorenko up with the 12th pick overall (courtesy of Ken McKenna/HF)
In the early going of the 2011-12 season, center Mikhail Grigorenko was considered by some to be the top prospect available for the 2012 NHL Draft. By season's end, however, the talented Russian was dropping in the rankings, finally being chosen with the 12th selection overall by the Buffalo Sabres.
Photo: The Buffalo Sabres looked for some size and scoring from the wing at last year's NHL Draft with the selection of Finnish forward Joel Armia (courtesy of Vincent Muzik/Icon SMI)
The Buffalo Sabres enter the 2012 NHL Draft armed with four of the first 45 picks, which is the most picks inside the top 50 that they have had since 1998. Though he receives a lot of flak from fans, Darcy Regier should be commended for both his draft record and deft maneuverings at last year's draft as well as the 2012 trade deadline which brought in the extra first and second round picks that the Sabres hold this year.
Sniper Chris Kreider recently joined the Rangers for their extended 2012 playoff run. Kreider has been one of the Rangers top prospects since he was drafted in in 2009. (Rich Kane/Icon SMI)
Below is the middle third of Hockey's Future NHL Organizational rankings as voted by the Hockey's Future staff. To determine the ranking, each team's entire prospect pool was taken into consideration. For reference, just the top five prospects are listed. To be eligible, a prospect must meet HF's prospect criteria. The rankings are done twice each season, in the fall and spring.