It has been a long and tough stretch for the Buffalo Sabres and its fans, as the team has not made the playoffs since 2011.
The hope was that Jack Eichel, who was taken second overall in 2015, would be able to turn this franchise around. Unfortunately, that has not happened yet. Despite Eichel being recognized as one of the NHL’s brightest young players, he has had little to no help through his first five seasons in the league, and as a result has begun to voice his displeasure with the organization.
While the results in recent years have been disappointing, there is no denying the Sabres do have some very good pieces on their roster. Aside from Eichel, they also have Swedish defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, who was taken first overall in 2018. They were able to add another former first overall pick this offseason, when free agent Taylor Hall shocked the hockey world and announced he was signing a one-year, $8 million deal with the Sabres.
Given that they were thrown in a very tough East Division for this season, making the Playoffs will be a very tough task for this roster. Though missing yet again would be very disappointing for Eichel and co, there is some good news for this team in that they have one of the better prospect pools throughout the league. It remains to be seen whether or not they wait for these prospects to develop and become regular NHLers, or if they instead decide to trade them for immediate help. While that may be a tricky decision for management, it is a good problem to have.
As mentioned in every other Top 8 Prospects articles throughout this series, any player who has played in more NHL games than any other league in a season, regardless of the season, will not be included. (Exception has been made for the 2020-21 season, given that many leagues, including the AHL, have yet to play any games).
Here are the Top 8 Prospects in the Buffalo Sabres Farm System.
8. Oskari Laaksonen
The Buffalo Sabres were able to draft an extremely talented player with their 89th pick at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft when they selected Oskari Laaksonen. The Finnish defenseman has spent the last three seasons playing for Ilves Tampere in the SM-liiga. He really came into his own during the 2018-19 season where he put up 24 points in 46 games. While he did digress somewhat last season, at least offensively, with just 12 points on the year, he is still impressing many given the minutes he is logging as a professional at such a young age.
Laaksonen, 21, played in 20 games once again in the SM-liiga to kick off this season, where he had 12 points in just 20 games. He is off the roster now however as he has headed overseas and is getting ready to play in his first AHL season with the Rochester Americans. The one concern regarding him is that he is listed as being just 165 pounds. It will be interesting to see how he will compete this upcoming season, and that will play a huge part in whether or not he will crack this list next season.
7. Brandon Biro
The Sabres made an intriguing move last March when they announced they had signed free agent forward Brandon Biro to a two-year, Entry-Level Contract. The undrafted 22-year-old has spent the last four seasons playing for Pennsylvania State, where he established himself as an offensively gifted talent.
In 138 total college games, Biro, who is known for being a playmaker, scored 41 goals and 116 points. His personal best season came as a junior in 2018-19 where he had 16 goals and 40 points in 37 games. Like Oskari Laaksonen, size is a concern here, as Biro currently weighs just 167 pounds. He too will play in the AHL this season, and it will be very interesting to see how he adjusts to the professional game.