I thought that with all the negativity surrounding the Buffalo Sabres I would try to put a positive spin on the future. The Buffalo Sabres appear to have a bright future based on the talent in the organization from top to bottom. This has been made possible by good scouting and drafting by the Sabres organization. The depth in the organization is at an all time high.
The Sabres long list of prospects starts in Rochester but travels all over the world. Daniel Paille and Michael Ryan spent most of last season in Rochester but they appear ready to crack the Sabres roster this season. I would expect some other Rochester players such as Clarke MacArthur, Marc Mancari and Andrej Sekera will push hard for a spot on the Sabres roster. Rochester best prospect is still at least one season away from cracking the Sabres roster. Marek Zagrapan has all the tools to be a star in the NHL but he needs to develop his game another year in Rochester. In addition to Zagrapan staying in Rochester I think players like Michael Funk and Patrick Kaleta may someday be able to crack the lineup but they are both two to three years away. Recently signed prospects Marc-Andre Gragnani and Phillip Gogulla will probably spend next season in Rochester.
The Sabres have their share of prospects playing in other leagues such as the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. In the QMJHL they have Ben Breault playing for Baie Comeau, Felix Schutz playing for Val d' Ors Foruers and of course 2007 first round draft pick Andrew Brennan who plays for the St. John's Fog Devils.
Staying in Junior hockey, the Sabres have a couple of defensemen playing in the Ontario Hockey League. 2007 draft pick Drew Schiestel will be playing for the Niagara Ice Dogs and Mike Weber is a prospect playing for the Barrie Colts.
The Sabres have had some success with NCAA players such as Thomas Vanek, who just signed a seven year contract, and Drew Stafford. The Sabres prospects currently playing NCAA hockey are Nathan Gerbe who is playing for Boston College, Buffalo born Tim Kennedy who plays for Michigan State and Chris Butler who straps the skates on for Denver College.
Finally the Sabres have some talented prospects playing in Europe as well. Highly touted defensive prospect Dennis Persson is playing over in Sweden. He appears primed to have a long career in Buffalo if he continues to progress. Another European defenseman is Slava Buravchikov who plays in the Russian Super League. Buravchikov's future is much more clouded because there is no transfer agreement in place between the NHL and the Russian Hockey Federation. In addition to these two players the Sabres top goaltending prospect is playing in Sweden. Jhonas Enroth is not only the Sabres top goaltending prospect but he was also ranked the #1 European Goaltender by ISS.
The purpose of this post was not only to shine a positive light on the Sabres future but also as a lead in to some prospect profiles. The summer can be mighty boring at timers for hockey fans so we'll fill some of the gaps helping you meet some of the future Sabres.