The Buffalo Sabres' horrendous start to the 2013-14 season was the clear signal that the team needed to make drastic changes. Ted Nolan replaced Ron Rolston as head coach early in the season, and Darcy Regier was fired after 16 years with the team after a few disappointing seasons and a spotty draft record.
The parent club was in shambles for much of the 2013-14 season, but the plight of the Buffalo Sabres did not adversely affect the development of their deep pool of prospects. Though the Rochester Americans felt the effects of Buffalo's roster shuffle throughout the season, the organization's prospects at the junior and amateur levels performed well, with the majority of them qualifying for the playoffs in their respective leagues.
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.
Currently amid a full-scale rebuild, the Buffalo Sabres have 43 prospects in their system, including seven first-round picks, giving them both quantity and quality at every position. The Sabres also have many prospects already contributing at the NHL level, including forwards Zemgus Girgensons, Mikhail Grigorenko, and Johan Larsson.
The Buffalo Sabres' AHL affiliate, the Rochester Americans, are one of the biggest beneficiaries of the NHL lockout. Though Cody Hodgson, Marcus Foligno, Brayden McNabb, and T.J. Brennan have, for the most part, been pillars for head coach Ron Rolston, the Amerks are currently sitting just out of playoff position. Hurting the Amerks is overall consistency and a lack of quality depth up front.