2023 Prospect Challenge: A Buffalo Sabres Preview

Photo by: Dom Tibbetts/WKBW

Coming into this season, the Buffalo Sabres are a hot topic around the league. Many analysts have them making the jump and becoming a playoff calibre team. But you cannot talk about the Sabres without discussing their immensely deep prospect pool. With the annual prospect challenge roster announced, here’s a preview discussing a few key points of interest.

New Faces in Goal

During last year’s prospect challenge, a lot of the focus was on Devon Levi. The main piece of the 2021 Sam Reinhardt trade had not signed with the Sabres yet, and some fans were worried he would spurn the franchise and become a free agent. That, along with the participation of Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, made for an intriguing goaltending situation. This year, goalies are almost a non-point. With Levi and Luukkonen most likely NHL bound this season, a new set of faces are participating in goal. Josh Fleming is a non-roster invitee. He spent last year with Acadie-Bathurst of the QMJHL and looks to land a full-on contract this offseason. The other man between the posts is the Sabres’ 2023 fifth round pick, Scott Ratzlaff. As the starter for the Seattle Thunderbirds, he has never posted a losing record. Both goalies will likely be playing for their major junior squads this season.

The Wenatchee Connection

I imagine Kevyn Adams knew what he was doing when he selected Matt Savoie’s linemate with this year’s 13th overall pick. Zach Benson is one of the most dynamic offensive prospects in this year’s draft class. Coming 3rd in points in the WHL this year, he now looks to get some experience against more developed NHL prospects. He will do so with the aforementioned Savoie, his longtime linemate with the Winnipeg Ice turned Wenatchee Wild. They put up a combined 193 points together. But Benson will most likely return to the Wild this season. Savoie is a different story.

Bubble NHLers

Matt Savoie is one of the multiple prospects I would classify as “bubble players.” The Sabres have a couple of these. Jiri Kulich nearly scored at a point-per-game pace in the AHL playoffs. He has arguably the best release of all the Sabres’ prospects. Ryan Johnson has finally signed with the team after four years with the University of Minnesota. Since Owen Power made the team straight out of college, there is a good chance the smooth-skating left-handed defenceman has a shot. There are always surprises, but these three have the best chance to play in the show this year.

5 thoughts on “2023 Prospect Challenge: A Buffalo Sabres Preview

  1. Great article Ian, but the real question stands, unlimited bacon but no video games OR No video game’s Unlimited games but no games?

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