If you’re new to Die By The Blade this past year, one of our favorite series we use to get ready for the season is the Top 25 Under 25. In case the title isn’t clear enough, we rank the top 25 players in the Sabres organization under the age of 25. It’s a fun way to look to the future with prospects while also taking in to account players that already contribute in the NHL.
This year sees a number of big departures from the list in the players who have aged out. Nic Deslauriers, Marcus Foligno, Evander Kane, Ryan O’Reilly and Robin Lehner are all 25 (as well as newcomer Dimitry Kulikov) and are thus ineligible to be ranked. Sorry fellas!
We’ll start the list proper tomorrow, but today we wanted to highlight a few names among that many that just missed the cut. All players in the Sabres organization under the age of 25 were eligible, and your rankers consisted of Jack, Calvin, Ryan, and myself. So if you disagree with any player’s ranking, it was definitely someone else’s fault. Without further ado...
Brycen Martin - Martin has shown improvement over the past two seasons in the WHL, and is expected to play for the Amerks next season. Needs to show he can handle himself at that next level.
Gustav Possler - Possler has fallen a bit thanks to injuries and disappointing production on a terrible MODO team over the past few years. He just signed a new contract with a new SHL team, however, so hopefully the 21-year-old will also see his fortunes rise.
Vaclav Karabacek - While Karabacek has shown flashes of offensive talent, he hasn’t put up the type of point totals you’d expect from a big forward in the QMJHL. Will need to step his game up to make an impact at the next level.
Jonas Johansson - JJ has the size that Tim Murray likes at 6’3’’, but just needs to keep playing and improving next year with a few goaltenders already ahead of him on the organizational depth chart (and this list).
Devante Stephens - Stephens is similar to Mark Pysyk in that he’s a smooth-skating, smart defenseman. He’s also similar to Pysyk in that he’s on the small side and hasn’t offered much contribution on offense. Keep working on that, and he’ll have a chance to earn a spot in another year or two.
Connor Hurley - A playmaking center with good size, Hurley needs to keep working on his strength, and playing tougher minutes this season at The University of Notre Dame.
Feel free to share your thoughts on these players in the comments, and come back tomorrow for the start of the countdown.