NHL Prospect Pool Overview 2024-25: Buffalo Sabres' Pipeline Stays Strong Despite Trading Savoie


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The Buffalo Sabres haven't made the Stanley Cup playoffs in the last 13 seasons, but with an exceptionally loaded pool of prospects at their disposal, the Sabres may be finally ready to begin a more competitive era.

The NHL off-season is in full swing, giving us the perfect opportunity to look at each team’s prospect pools. We continue today with the Buffalo Sabres.

First Thoughts​

The Buffalo Sabres haven’t made the playoffs in the last 13 seasons. However, the last couple of years have brought some hope as the Sabres have been bursting with young, promising talent.

Although they haven’t been able to get into the post-season yet, this upcoming year could see everything line up as the young talent is maturing into their primes, the pipeline is overflowing with high-end players looking to step in if injury occurs, and the Atlantic division could see some of the top end teams falter a bit.

Matt Savoie was the name most would have immediately jumped to when talking about the Sabres’ prospect pool, but the Sabres traded arguably their top prospect. In return, they got Ryan McLeod, an NHL winger with plenty of experience in the bottom six, and Tyler Tullio, a forward prospect who has potential as a middle six-piece but has yet to find his footing in the AHL. Tullio plays with a ton of energy, a non-stop motor and some good offensive vision. Although most aren’t talking about him in the trade, he’s a solid piece, even if he isn’t Savoie.

Matt Savoie

The first name on the call-up list might be Jiri Kulich, who has shown off his goal-scoring touch at the AHL level for each of the last two seasons. The Czech forward has an absolute bomb for a shot, particularly his one-timer on the powerplay. He made his NHL debut last year but his one-game call-up didn’t really give him much opportunity to show off his scoring touch. An extended stint in the big leagues could see him solidify a spot.

After playing pro in Sweden for the last two years and parts of the previous year, Noah Ostlund joined the Rochester Americans at the tail end of the season. Ostlund is incredibly smart, highly skilled and drives play when he is on the ice. Stepping into the AHL for the entirety of the season should allow him to adapt to the North American game. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Ostlund get an NHL call-up at some point in the year.

Isak Rosen asserted himself as one of Rochester’s best players last season and it earned him seven NHL games. Although Rosen didn’t find the scoresheet in his NHL games, he had 50 points in the AHL. Rosen is a dual-threat offensive threat who can absolutely rip a puck. His shiftiness and vision allow him to read the ice and create space for himself. He will be one of Rochester’s key players this season and could see even more NHL time.

The blueline may not be quite as impressive when it comes to the players in the pipeline but Maxim Strbak played a pivotal role for one of the best teams in the NCAA as a key cog on the Michigan State blueline, bringing his sound defensive game built on his blend of mobility and physicality.

Vsevolod Komarov had a great offensive season with Drummondville, helping the Voltigeurs to a QMJHL championship. Nikita Novikov took a big step with Rochester in his first AHL season, putting up solid numbers offensively and still maintaining a very steady defensive game using his length and size well.

Buffalo’s prospect pipeline is as deep as they come. They have a number of solid players and they are bolstered by a very solid once again draft class this year. Zach Benson played the full year in the NHL last year after being drafted, putting together a quietly solid NHL rookie year at 18 years old. Although he’s “graduated” from the pipeline, he is younger than most of their best prospects. Buffalo Sabres fans should be excited for the future of the franchise.

U-23 Players Likely to Be on the NHL Roster​

Zach Benson (LW), Owen Power (D), Devon Levi (G), Jack Quinn (W), Ryan Johnson (D), Bowen Byram (D), Dylan Cozens (C)

2024 NHL Draft Class​

Round 1, 14th overall - Konsta Helenius, C, Jukurit (Finland)
Round 2, 42nd overall - Adam Kleber, RD, Lincoln (USHL)
Round 3, 71st overall - Brodie Ziemer, RW, U.S. NTDP (USHL)
Round 4, 108th overall - Luke Osburn, LD, Youngstown (USHL)
Round 4, 123rd overall - Simon-Pier Brunet, RD, Drummondville (QMJHL)
Round 6, 172nd overall - Patrick Geary, LD, Michigan State (NCAA)
Round 7, 204th overall - Vasili Zelenov, RW, Red Bull (Austria)
Round 7, 219th overall - Ryerson Leenders, G, Mississauga (OHL)

The Sabres have had a good run of drafts recently and this year is solid yet again. Starting off by trading back a few spots to 14th overall, the Sabres still got their man in Konsta Helenius. The Finnish center is one of the more intelligent players in the class, playing a sound two-way game with good instincts at both ends of the ice. He was impactful throughout the Liiga season this year and likely will be back at the top men’s level in Finland this year, looking to take a step offensively by bringing a bit more dynamism.

In the second round, the Sabres nabbed Adam Kleber, a blueliner who brings size and mobility as well as a smart, refined defensive game. He isn’t a dynamic puck mover but he is certainly capable and has flashed some nice handling ability in transition. Kleber is a steady, defensive presence who could eventually fit on a pairing with one of the dynamic offensive left-shot defenders already at the NHL level.

Brodie Ziemer was the captain of the NTDP this past season, bringing a high-compete level and solid complimentary offensive game. He is an excellent give-and-go player who helps ease the burden of teammates in all three zones. Ziemer may not have a high-end offensive upside but he feels like an excellent depth piece who helps set the tone for his team.

Drafting Luke Osburn might be one of the Sabres' best value plays in the draft over the last couple of years. His mobility and raw tools are impressive in flashes but he has played a more reined-in and refined role since becoming a full-time USHL defender. If he can bring some more of the skill and playmaking to the surface, there might be a very talented and impactful blueliner to be had. If not, the bet on tools and skating are certainly still worth it. He’s still figuring out exactly what he will be at the next level but there’s plenty of time to figure that out.

While his offensive game likely isn’t ever going to be all that impressive, Simon-Pier Brunet brings a size and physicality that NHL teams typically love. He moves well enough and shows solid defensive awareness as well. He isn’t always the prettiest player to watch but he plays a brand of stable hockey that NHL teams find attractive.

After his freshman season in the NCAA and his third year of draft eligibility, Patrick Geary was taken in the sixth round by Buffalo. He just plays a meat-and-potatoes, physical game in his own end and moves the puck to the nearest teammate. There was some surprise that he was taken but he looked quite good as he took the step from the USHL to the NCAA this season with Michigan State.

Vasily Zelenov was a flyer on a player who showed off a decent motor and some flashes of skill with the puck, He wasn’t exactly a world-beater in the Austrian league but he put up almost a point-per-game. I’d get him over to North America and see what he looks like against better competition.

Ryerson Leenders might be the steal of the seventh round. He had some of the best numbers in the OHL among all goaltenders and showed off some impressive athleticism and technique all season. He was consistently Canada's second man up for U18 competition behind Carter George but he arguably outperformed him in league play all season long. He’s played big minutes for the Mississauga Steelheads in each of the last two years. Leenders is an outstanding swing in the seventh round and could have easily gone earlier.


The Sabres boast one of the most impressive prospect pools in the NHL. They have legitimate prospects at every level. With that said, the center depth that the Sabres have built up in their pipeline is impressive, even without Savoie in the fold. Ostlund is a highly skilled, offensive star who plays with speed and pace. Helenius is an excellent addition as a two-way, intelligent pivot who can slot into the middle six eventually. Anton Wahlberg is a big, fast center who had a solid first full SHL season this year and he could be an excellent bottom-six center.

With young centers Dylan Cozens and Peyton Krebs already on the NHL roster and Tage Thompson locking down the number one role, not all of these prospects will play center if they make it to the NHL but it’s certainly a good problem to have.


The Sabres certainly don’t have a glaring weakness, especially considering the fact that they have an incredibly young, talented blueline in the NHL already but they lack a truly high-end blueliner in the system. Not that they really need it with Owen Power, Rasmus Dahlin, and Bowen Byram all possessing high-end skill, but with all three being left-shot defenders, they could use an impact, right-handed blueliner. Even that all feels pretty nitpicky though.

Next Man Up: Devon Levi, G​

The Sabres hoped that Levi could step into the NHL immediately last season after a strong stint to end the previous season upon coming out of college. Unfortunately, Levi was up-and-down and faced injury last season. He tore it up in the AHL to end the season and was strong for Rochester in the playoffs. He should be given all of the opportunity to step into the NHL lineup again to start this season. With Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen establishing himself last season, Levi shouldn’t have to take on too much of the load but if he takes starts away from UPL, it shouldn’t shock anyone.

Prospect Depth Chart Notables​

LW: Jiri Kulich, Alexander Kisakov, Viktor Neuchev, Prokhor Poltapov
C: Noah Ostlund, Konsta Helenius, Anton Wahlberg, Tyson Kozak
RW: Isak Rosen, Tyler Tullio, Brodie Ziemer, Olivier Nadeau
LD: Luke Osburn, Nikita Novikov, Norwin Panocha
RD: Adam Kleber, Vsevolod Komarov, Maxim Strbak, Gavin McCarthy
G: Devon Levi, Ryerson Leenders, Scott Ratzlaff, Topias Leinonen