On Monday morning, the Buffalo Sabres made a move that raised more than a few eyebrows throughout Western New York.
The Buffalo Sabres have reassigned forward Jack Quinn to the Taxi Squad.— Sabres PR (@SabresPR) January 10, 2022
While the subsequent shoe dropped minutes later, when forward Tage Thompson was placed on the NHL’s Covid-19 protocol, many were focused on what Quinn’s addition to the taxi squad could mean.
With the unfortunate news of Thompson heading into league protocol, all eyes turned to the forward lines in Sabres practice.
Within minutes, forward Jack Quinn was taking line rushes with Dylan Cozens and Vinnie Hinostroza, with sights set on making his NHL debut.
Jack Quinn’s journey to the National Hockey League began on August 5, 2020, when the OHL announced their regular season would start on December 1, 2020.
This development, along with the NHL-CHL’s development agreement, meant players with CHL eligibility could play in the AHL until all CHL teams returned to play.
Fast forward to October 6, 2020, when Quinn was selected eighth overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. Quinn was immediately able to report to the Rochester Americans of the AHL, which allowed him to work directly with Americans coaches.
It goes without saying but the ability to work with Americans head coach Seth Appert helped expedite Quinn’s development.
With the OHL pushing their season back indefinitely once again on October 29, 2021, all sights were set on the AHL for Jack Quinn.
Heading into the 2020 NHL Draft, scouts were notably worried about Quinn being a boom-or-bust prospect, coming off of a career-high 52 goal season in his draft year.
The Americans 2020-21 regular season began on Friday, February 5, 2021 but Quinn was unable to immediately participate due to quarantine restrictions. Despite Quinn’s AHL debut being delayed for three games, he quickly put any doubts to rest about his goal-scoring prowess once his first professional season began.
In 15 games with the Americans, Quinn showed off his pre-draft promise, totaling nine points (two goals, seven assists) before undergoing season-ending hernia surgery in April 2021.
Going into last offseason, Quinn felt he was ready to make the leap to the NHL but did not play up to his own expectations in training camp and was sent to Rochester to begin the 2021-22 season.
“He (Quinn) looked at both of us (Granato and Sabres GM Kevyn Adams) and he said, “I’m OK with going down in one sense: I played below the standard I believe I can play in the American League and I feel like I need to go back there and prove myself that I can play better in that league,” Sabres head coach Don Granato told media last November.
Quinn has responded by tearing up the AHL.
Despite recently returning after missing a month of action with mononucleosis, Quinn is tied for 11th in total points scored (26) and 9th in goals scored (12) among all AHL players.
Top rookie scorers in the AHL, through Sunday, Jan. 9— Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst) January 10, 2022
Always a good sign for any organization when they have three of the league's top first-year point producers. Buffalo's affiliate in Rochester certainly getting the most out of Jack Quinn, J.J. Peterka, and Peyton Krebs. pic.twitter.com/cFPYVmAIc5
Following practice on Monday, it was confirmed that Jack Quinn will indeed make his NHL debut on Tuesday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“It’s pretty cool, it’s very exciting,” Quinn told media members following Monday’s practice. “I’m just looking forward to tomorrow.”
The Sabres future will be on display on Tuesday night, with Quinn making his NHL debut. Whether or not Quinn sticks around for the long-haul remains to be seen but this is just another step in the right direction for a franchise that has long-struggled to develop higher-end talent.