Position: Right Wing
Weight: 192 lbs.
2013-14 team: Rochester
Acquired: Taken in the first round (16th overall) in the 2011 draft
Last year's ranking: 7
The Sabres have had quite a few first round picks in the past few years. Of all of them, Joel Armia is the lowest ranked on our list.
Armia has progressing rather well in Europe after being drafted, widely considered one of the top young talents out of Finland. In 2012 he was second in scoring at the World Juniors with Finland and led the SM-Liiga (the top league in Finland) in goals for a rookie. However, Armia had struggles translating his game in North America last year, only scoring seven goals and 20 assists in 54 games.
Armia struggled with consistency, but showed flashes of his offensive abilities. When he was drafted he was even thought of as one of the players with the best scoring ability in the draft. He's big and he knows how to score, and that alone should keep fans intrigued. In the playoffs Armia picked up he production, scoring three goals and three assists in their five playoff games.
There were rumors this season that Armia wasn't interested in playing in the AHL for very long, and was already considering returning to Finland. However, he quickly denied those rumors.
Armia better be ready to play in the AHL again, because he hasn't done enough yet to prove that he's ready for the NHL. He's been passed by others drafted after him in making the league, so this will be a really important year for his future chances with the franchise. With the lack of urgency to win this season for the Sabres Armia may just get a chance in the NHL for the team to see a glimpse of what they've got.
He's got the potential, but what we sometimes forget is a first-round pick isn't always a can't miss scenario. The Sabres haven't given up yet about Armia being another important piece in the team's youth movement.
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