It's only during the summer months that the Buffalo Sabres get to top any "best of" lists, considering their current roster. Present players aside, however, the future of the franchise looks very bright, according to Corey Pronman of ESPN and Hockey Prospectus.
Pronman just released his list of the Top 100 Prospects in the NHL (ESPN Insider required) and the Buffalo Sabres have a whopping eight players in the top 100, more than any other NHL team. The obvious pick, Sam Reinhart, sits in the #5 position behind Jonathan Drouin, Aaron Ekblad, Sam Bennett, and William Nylander.
After that, the Sabres have three of the top 21 players, and five in the top 51. The eight prospects that made the list are:
#5 - Sam Reinhart
#17 - Mikhail Grigorenko
#21 - Nikita Zadorov
#44 - Hudson Fasching
#51 - J.T. Compher
#60 - Joel Armia
#69 - Gustav Possler
#72 - Jake McCabe
Pronman also includes write-ups for each prospect, including this gem for Nikita Zadorov:
A tower of terror on the blue line, the big Russian defender got some NHL time for Buffalo early on before coming back to be one of the OHL's top defensemen, scoring 30 points in 36 games for London. He's 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, and uses every square inch of that frame to win battles and deliver crushing body blows to opposing forwards. He's the rare defenseman who top scorers truly fear when coming down the wing. It helps that Zadorov is such a great skater to let him stay with the quicker players. He's become more confident with the puck, and has a big shot from the point.
One of the interesting things about this list for me is how many of these prospects were already in the pipeline before Tim Murray took command of the sinking ship. Only Reinhart and Fasching are Murray's, while the other six players were brought in by He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named. Regardless of how they got here, there's a nice blend of high-end, top line talent with future grinders with a bit of playmaking ability thrown in for good measure. I'd like to see at least one goalie on this list next year, but overall this prospect list looks very nice.
Just in case you forgot that the Sabres have a great stable of young prospects, there's plenty of national writers out there willing to remind you. And this list doesn't include other very good young players that still haven't cemented a position in the NHL, such as Rasmus Ristolainen, thanks to Pronman's condition that any players who have 25 games in a season or 50 games in a career are ineligible.
Check out the entire list here an read the informative write-ups as well. There's plenty of talent coming, folks, and it will be a lot of fun to watch them grow together.