For the past few season, the Buffalo Sabres have led the NHL in very few on-ice statistics. But one place they've excelled is trading away established players for draft picks, and then turning those draft picks into highly touted prospects. It's been all about the future in the recent past, and now those efforts are starting to come to fruition.
The Sabres ranked third overall in Corey Pronman's annual ranking of farm systems around the NHL for ESPN.com(Insider required) trailing only the Oilers, thanks to McDavid, and the Leafs, thanks to their complete organizational implosion and some nice development.
While third is a drop off from last year's #1 ranking, Buffalo has lost some good prospects in trades acquiring Ryan O'Reilly, Jamie McGinn, Zach Bogosian, and Evander Kane, and have had other talented prospects like Rasmus Ristolainen graduate to full-time NHL status.
Here's what Pronman has to say:
Between cheering for losses, massive trades and getting Jack Eichel, this organization and its fan base have been through a lot the past 12 months. When all the dust settled, here's the bottom line: The Sabres have two truly elite cornerstones in Eichel and Sam Reinhart, plus a couple other quality prospects, but trades, graduations and lackluster development from some players have left the depth somewhat thin as the organization tries to turn the corner and begin to win.
While he's not wrong about the farm system being thinner than it used to be, I don't think Buffalo is reaching anywhere near teams at the bottom of the list, such as the Penguins, Rangers, and Wild are. There are still plenty of very promising prospects such as Justin Bailey, Jake McCabe, and Linus Ullmark in the system, and with 11 draft picks already in the purse for the 2016 draft, that pool can be refilled quickly.
Oh, and those Eichel and Reinhart guys he named are supposed to be pretty good.
Check out the rest of the article here, and let us know what you think of the Sabres #3 ranking in the comments.