Photo: University of Wisconsin defenseman and Buffalo Sabres prospect Jake McCabe has provided strong, all-around play for Team USA at the 2013 WJC (courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The defense for Team USA at the 2013 World Junior Championship has been very offensive, in a good way. The seven defensemen that have suited up for that country have totaled 10 goals and 17 assists so far in the tournament, with only the gold medal game left to contest.
Photo: Quebec Remparts forward and Buffalo Sabres prospect Mikhail Grigorenko played a major role in helping Russia advance to the semi-finals of the 2013 WJC (courtesy of Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
After winning gold and silver at the last two World Junior Championships, 2013 host country Russia find themselves in a position to bring home another medal, possibly gold, in front of a home crowd.
Photo: After playing the past three seasons in Finland, defenseman Sami Vatanen made his way to North America and currently plays for the AHL affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks. (Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Below is the middle section Hockey’s Future’s NHL Team Rankings. The teams are ranked in terms of the quality of their overall prospect pool as voted on by the staff of Hockey's Future. 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 a year, with the second scheduled to be published in the Spring.
Photo: Forward Colin Jacobs has been spectacular since he was traded to the Prince George Cougars. Jacobs spent the previous three seasons with the Seattle Thunderbirds. (Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)
The Buffalo Sabres have eight prospects playing in the CHL, including Quebec Remparts center and 2012 first round pick Mikhail Grigorenko. Only Grigorenko, Daniel Catenacci, and Andrey Makarov are under contract with the organization. The others will be using the rest of the season to showcase their skills. While the most recent draft picks have a little more time to spare, others like Colin Jacobs are playing in their last year of eligibility with the Sabres.
Photo: Defenseman Brayden McNabb (81) is one of several Buffalo Sabres prospects who would be competing for a spot in the NHL right now if not for the ongoing lockout. (Bill Streicher/Icon SMI)
The Buffalo Sabres have traditionally taken the long and steady approach to developing their projects, giving their prospects as much time as needed to develop into an NHL player. That patience has paid off, with many players drafted in the past five years making contributions at the NHL level last year, and are ready to this year, if or when the NHL lockout ends. Corey Tropp, Luke Adam, Brayden McNabb, Marcus Foligno, and a few others are among those who have proven that they can play in the NHL.