The Buffalo Sabres had some unfortunate luck in the NHL Draft Lottery, but that changed over the last five years.
The Sabres were the bridesmaid in the 2014 and 2015 Draft in spite of having the NHL’s worst record. Second-overall picks yielded former Sabres Sam Reinhart and Jack Eichel, with the club missing out on top picks Aaron Ekblad and Connor McDavid. In 2018, the Sabres finally benefited from having the best odds and selected first overall for the first time since 1987. Rasmus Dahlin was picked first overall and this season is expected to be a finalist for the Norris Trophy. In 2021, Buffalo again had the top pick and drafted another blueliner in Owen Power.
Power on Wednesday was announced as one of the three finalists for the Calder Trophy, along with Matty Beniers of the Seattle Kraken, and Stuart Skinner of the Edmonton Oilers.
Matty Beniers, Owen Power, and Stuart Skinner are your 2022-23 Calder Trophy finalists!
Who’s taking it home? 🏆 pic.twitter.com/ReuuaCBnyY
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) May 3, 2023
The 20-year-old Mississauga, ON native led all rookie defensemen with 35 points (4 goals, 31 assists) in 79 games and follows in the footsteps of Dahlin, who was a finalist in 2019. Buffalo has had three Calder winners in their 53-year history. Hall-of-Famer Gilbert Perreault won in 1971 after being the Sabres franchise’s first selection. Tom Barrasso won both rookie honors and the Vezina Trophy (top goaltender) as a 19-year-old in 1983-84, and defenseman Tyler Myers won the award in 2010.
Beniers is considered the favorite for the league’s rookie prize. After being selected second after Power in 2021, Beniers stepped in as the Kraken’s top center and tied for the NHL rookie lead in goals (24) and points (57). Skinner split time between AHL Bakersfield and Edmonton last season and replaced Jack Campbell as the Oilers primary starter. Skinner started 50 games and posted a 29-14-5 record, 2.73 GAA, and a .914 save percentage, leading NHL rookie goaltenders in victories.
Buffalo rookie forwards Jack Quinn and JJ Peterka likely received some consideration. Quinn (the Sabres first-round pick in 2020) posted 37 points (14 goals, 23 assists) in 75 games, while linemate Peterka (selected 34th overall in the same draft) had 32 points (12 goals, 20 assists) in 77 games.