2022 Buffalo Sabres Top 25 Under 25: On the Cusp (30-26)

Who almost made the big list, but just missed.

The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the Die By The Blade community. It was a combination of staff writers and over 600 readers that ranked Buffalo Sabres players under the age of 25 as of August 1, 2022. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production to rank each player.

Our Top 25 will begin to be unveiled later this week, but here’s your final look at the rest of the list: those prospects who wound up ranked #30 through #26, just narrowly missing the Top 25 Under 25 mark.

30. Olivier Nadeau - Forward - 19 - Gatineau Olympiques

Average Public Ranking: 26
Average Staff Ranking: 31

Nadeau had a huge season with the Shawinigan Cataractes last season, with a whopping 78 points (35-43) in 65 regular season games. He also averaged a point-per-game in 16 playoff games and six points (4-2) in four Memorial Cup games. He led the team in points and served as an alternate captain, but was subsequently traded to Gatineau for 2005-born Thomas Hébert and three draft picks.

T-28. Prokhor Poltapov - Forward - 19 - CSKA Moskva

Average Public Ranking: 27
Average Staff Ranking: 29

Poltapov bounced around between leagues last season. He played 17 games in the KHL with CSKA Moskva, but failed to record a point. In 25 VHL games with Zvezda Moskva (at the second-highest level of hockey in Russia), he put up seven points. He also played in both the regular season and playoffs with Krasnaya Armiya Moskva, where he may return this year. He had 15 points in 13 regular-season games and 18 points in 19 playoff games in juniors.

T-28. Josh Bloom - Forward - 19 - Saginaw Spirit

Average Public Ranking: 25
Average Staff Ranking: 30

I spoke to the 2021 third-rounder earlier this summer at development camp. After putting up 61 points (30-31) in 67 games alst season, he should be poised for another strong year with the Spirit, his last in juniors.

27. Aaron Huglen - Forward - 21 - University of Minnesota

Average Public Ranking: 28
Last Year’s Ranking: 24

In his first collegiate season, Huglen recorded 16 points (7-9) in 37 games. According to GopherHole.com, he had an “analytically great season,” despite his general stats not backing that up. Check out Dylan Loucks’ full analytical breakdown of the Gophers team, Huglen included, here. (Remember, he didn’t play the entire 2019-20 season due to injury/surgery.)

26. Matej Pekar - Forward - 22 - Rochester Americans

Average Public Ranking: 34
Average Staff Ranking: 23
Last Year’s Ranking: 18

Pekar has fallen quite a bit in the prospect rankings, especially among the voting public, over the last few years. His offensive side just hasn’t been there; in 47 games with the Amerks last season, he accrued only six points. The excitement that used to surround him as a Sabres prospect has certainly dwindled, and it’s easy to see why when you look at his stats. The upcoming season is a critical one, as it’s the final year of his current contract.

Stay tuned as we begin unveiling the Top 25 Under 25 list!