While the NHL did not experience a bumper crop of rookies this season, there is some depth to the Class of 2003. A pair of Sabres draftees from this group, right wing Ales Kotalik and defenseman Henrik Tallinder, were two of the better prospects at their respective positions, with Kotalik turning in a performance worthy of Calder Trophy consideration.
The lengthy stay in the NHL for these two Buffalo prospects means, of course, that they are no longer eligible for inclusion in the prospect rankings at the Hockey’s Future Buffalo Sabres page. Kotalik and Tallinder have been shifted to the ‘Graduated’ section, leaving two open slots amongst the top 5 prospects.
The Buffalo prospects benefiting from the graduation of Kotalik and Tallinder are University of Minnesota defenseman Keith Ballard, who moves into the fourth slot, and Rochester Americans center Paul Gaustad, who holds down the fifth slot. Moving from fifth to third is Guelph Storm left wing Dan Paille.
The upward shift into the top 5 of two prospects means that all prospects move up in the rankings, with two slots opening up towards the bottom of the top 15. Those openings have been filled by left wing Milan Bartovic, who made his NHL debut late in the 2002-03 season, and Russian defenseman Denis Denisov, who has completed his second season in Russia’s top league. Both players have been previously listed in the top 15.
One prospect whose stock has plummeted is right wing Jaroslav Kristek. Kristek essentially abandoned his Rochester teammates shortly before the e Read more»
The playoffs are in full gear in most of the hockey world, and will soon be revving up in the NHL, AHL and ECHL. For fans of the Buffalo Sabres, however, this is a bittersweet time of year due to their favorites once again missing out on the playoff excitement. But the teams’ play of late has been somewhat encouraging, which at least creates hope for next season.
Some of Buffalo’s prospects still are competing, however, and there is a chance that the farm team in Rochester could sneak into the AHL postseason with a season-ending surge. So this is by no means the final update of the prospects’ statistics, but rather a look at what Buffalo’s prospects have accomplished since the last update.
All prospects listed on the Sabres page are included in this table. All European players not designated with a number next to their country of origin (ex. CZE vs. CZE1) are playing in the top league in those countries, with the numbers next to the country abbreviation indicating participation in a lower league. Other abbreviations: NHL= National Hockey League, AHL= American Hockey League, OHL= Ontario Hockey League, QMJHL= Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, HE= Hockey East (NCAA), WCHA= Western Collegiate Hockey Association (NCAA), WJC= World Junior Championships. An asterisk [*] next to a team name indicates playoff statistics. Statistics are from games played through March 31st, 2003.
When discussions arise regarding college hockey programs in the Boston area, inevitably the two teams discussed are long-time rivals Boston College and Boston University. Both teams have rich hockey traditions dating back many years, with both programs having graduated several players to the NHL.
Often forgotten in these discussions is the hockey program at Northeastern University, a private school also located in Beantown, but a school with a much less storied hockey history than that of either BC or BU. Northeastern plays in the NCAA’s Hockey East Conference with their Boston-based rivals. But, unlike the more established programs of those other two schools, the Huskies are still in the process of building a program that will be competitive enough to recruit some of the better young talent coming out of high school.
This isn’t to say that Northeastern hasn’t graduated players to NHL duty, however. Two names of former Huskies that should be recognizable to most fans of the NHL are defensemen Dan McGillis of the Boston Bruins, and Jim Fahey of the San Jose Sharks. And, with the recent acquisition of Dallas prospect Mike Ryan, the Buffalo Sabres are hoping that they can train another Huskie for NHL duty.
Mike was acquired by the Sabres prior to the March 11th NHL trade deadline in the deal that sent Stu Barnes to the Stanley Cup-contending Dallas Stars. The Milton, MA native was originally a second round pick for Dallas in the 1999 NHL Draft, with Ryan having been considered one of the better prospects in the Stars’ s Read more»
The chill winds of February being experienced in the Western New York area seem to have blown right on down throughout the Buffalo Sabres’ organization. The big club is struggling with injuries and losses, as is the farm club in Rochester. There are a couple of prospects in the junior ranks that have played well of late, but, for the most part, few Buffalo draftees are currently setting the hockey world on fire.
Against that backdrop, then, comes the latest statistical rundown for the Sabres’ prospects. All prospects listed on the Sabres’ page are included in this table. All European players not designated with a number next to their country of origin (ex. CZE vs. CZE1) are playing in the top league in those countries, with the numbers next to the country abbreviation indicating participation in a lower league. Other abbreviations: NHL= National Hockey League, AHL= American Hockey League, OHL= Ontario Hockey League, QMJHL= Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, HE= Hockey East (NCAA), WCHA= Western Collegiate Hockey Association (NCAA), WJC= World Junior Championships. Statistics are from games played through February 16th, 2003.
By the time the 2002-03 regular season is completed, the Buffalo Sabres’ prospect listing is likely to look a bit different than it does at the midpoint. Some of the top prospects, such as goaltender Ryan Miller, defenseman Henrik Tallinder and right wing Ales Kotalik will have played in enough NHL games to move on to graduated status.
For now, though, the top 15 remains status quo, with some slight upward or downward movement amongst the prospects. The top 3 remains unchanged, with Miller, center Derek Roy and Tallinder more often than not showing why they are such highly regarded young players. Others, like Jiri Novotny and Jason Pominville of the Rochester Americans, have not on a regular basis displayed the talent that made them high draft picks.
This current crop of Sabres’ prospects possesses a fairly good mix of talent, with the main weaknesses being a lack of both quality defensive depth and first line offensive talent. There are some grinders, enforcers and defensive specialists that are needed on every NHL roster, and there are a couple players that could develop into offensive threats at the forward and defense positions. All told, while Buffalo may not have the best list of prospects in the NHL, they certainly have enough depth to be considered amongst the top 10 in that category.
As for this top 15 list, it is a snapshot in time, and is based largely on the performances of players in this current season. Other factors, such as draft position, age and future potential, have been taken into account, which makes this list m Read more»