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.
It’s so interesting to look at this year’s results compared to last year’s. We had a lot more responses, but the Sabres have also acquired a lot of seemingly solid prospects, too. That’s nowhere more evident than right here, where you’ll see two players who finished in last year’s top 25 and fell out this year.
Here’s who is ranked #40 through #31.
40. Jakub Konecny - Forward - 20 - HC Sparta Praha
Average Public Ranking: 38
Konecny bounced around a bit last year but spent the most team with HC Sparta Praha, where he put up seven points in 28 games. He also played for their U20 team and was loaned to both HC Baník Sokolov and HC Stadion Litoměřice, and skated in two games for Czechia at the cancelled World Juniors. He didn’t make this summer’s roster.
39. Filip Cederqvist - Forward - 21 - Rochester Americans
Average Public Ranking: 37
Cederqvist is expected to make the jump to North America this year, after spending all of last season in the SHL. In 49 games last season with Djurgårdens IF, he put up 14 goals and 18 assists for 32 points. In four relegation games, he averaged a point-per-game.
38. Nikita Novikov - Defense - 19 - Dynamo Moskva
Average Public Ranking: 36
Novikov appeared in 32 KHL games last season with Dynamo Moskva, accruing four points and six penalty minutes. He also skated in nine playoff games. Other than that, he skated in six games with MHK Dynamo Moskva - their junior team.
37. Viktor Neuchev - Forward - 18 - Avto Yekaterinburg
Average Public Ranking: 35
Neuchev had an impressing showing in the MHL (junior league) last season, putting up 67 points in just 61 games. His season included a 40-goal campaign and earned him a game in the KHL and five games in the VHL. He’s slated to return to juniors again this upcoming season.
36. Tyson Kozak - Forward - 19 - Portland Winterhawks
Average Staff Ranking: 32
Average Public Ranking: 40
Kozak still has some junior eligibility, so he’ll return to the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks for another season as their captain this fall. Last year was his third full season with the team; he averaged over a point-per-game, with 69 points (32-37) in 66 regular season games. Check out this profile on Kozak from The Buffalo News.
35. Brandon Biro - Forward - 24 - Rochester Americans
Average Public Ranking: 32
Biro had an impressive campaign with the AHL’s Rochester Americans last season. He played a strong, physical, offensive game, with 41 points (12-29) in just 48 regular-season games. He also made his NHL debut in one game. Biro signed a two-year deal with the Sabres earlier this summer with an AAV of $762,500.
T-33. Matteo Costantini - Forward - 20 - Univ. of North Dakota
Average Staff Ranking: 27
Average Public Ranking: 39
Last season saw Costantini make the jump from juniors to the NCAA. He fared well in his freshman year, making the mark for 21 points in 35 games played. The 2020 fifth-round draft pick is set to return to Grand Forks for another collegiate season.
T-33. Linus Weissbach - Forward - 24 - Rochester Americans
Last Year’s Ranking: 23
Average Public Ranking: 31
After four seasons at Wisconsin, Weissbach made his AHL debut last season in 67 games with the Amerks. He had a fine season, with 37 points, but pales in comparison to other Rochester rookies like Quinn, Peterka and Biro. This is a contract year for him.
32. Topias Leinonen - Goalie - 18 - JYP/JYP U20
Average Public Ranking: 30
The first goalie on our list! Leinonen’s size is noteworthy, at 6’5” and 234 pounds. There’s a reason he was the first goalie taken in the 2022 draft and a reason the Sabres chose him so high. Last season, he appeared in 21 games with JYP’s U20 team, putting up a .916 save percentage and 2.28 GAA. He also appeared in five games with Finland’s U18 team.
31. Oskari Laaksonen - Defense - 23 - Rochester Americans
Last Year’s Ranking: 17
Average Staff Ranking: 28
Average Public Ranking: 33
Laaksonen has fallen quite a bit in the Top 25 Under 25 standings, after finishing 17th last year. He appeared in 71 games with the Amerks this past season, accrued 34 points and 44 penalty minutes and is the only 2017 draft pick still in the Sabres organization who has yet to play in an NHL game.
Stay tuned for the rest of the list.