Photo: Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen (55) remains is the top prospect for the Buffalo Sabres. Ristolainen has split the 2013-14 season between the NHL and AHL. (courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
With over 40 prospects currently in their system, and at least 10 picks in the first two rounds of the 2014 and 2015 NHL Drafts, the Buffalo Sabres are aggressively re-building. Two players graduate from the fall Top 20 rankings – former University of Maine standout Brian Flynn is now a fixture with the big club and winger Corey Tropp is now a Columbus Blue Jacket after being waived in November.
Photo: Selected in the fourth round of the 2009 NHL Draft, forward Marcus Foligno has carved out a role in the NHL as a big, physical forward who can chip in offensively. (courtesy of Jerome Davis/Icon SMI)
Despite improving their standing in the Northeast Division at the conclusion of the 2008-09 season, the Buffalo Sabres found themselves out of playoff contention for the second year in a row.
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: Finland defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen celebrates with the Championship Trophy at the 2014 World Junior Championship after he scored the gold medal-winning goal in overtime to defeat Sweden, 3-2 (courtesy of LUDVIG THUNMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
It was a nearly identical gold medal-winning goal as the one scored two years by Mika Zibanejad, only this time, Sweden was on the receiving end. Finland defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen grabbed the puck along the boards and powered his way to the front of Sweden's net to beat Oscar Dansk for the overtime goal, giving the Finns a stunning 3-2 win in the finale of the 2014 World Junior Championship.