The Buffalo Sabres have drafted and developed a number of youngsters currently playing in the NHL (Rasmus Dahlin, Owen Power, Dylan Cozens), and the club under former GM Jason Botterill and current GM Kevyn Adams have been able to replenish the organization with young prospects. Throughout the month of August and leading into training camp next month, we will rank the club’s top prospects over the upcoming weeks based on their progress in either the NCAA, CHL, Europe, ECHL or AHL and their potential to make the Sabres roster and make a contribution in the future. Players are eligible for the list if they have not played more than 40 NHL games and are 25 years old or younger:
#40 Matej Pekar
The Sabres thought that they might have found a diamond in the rough when they selected Matej Pekar with the top pick of the fourth round of the 2018 NHL Draft in Dallas. After playing his youth hockey in various levels in Czechia, the 6’1″, 185 lb. forward came to North America and scored nearly a point-per-game for the USHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks (14 goals, and 40 assists in 56 games).
— Nick Filipowski (@NickFilipowski) June 30, 2018
Pekar was considered a well-rounded, hard-working two-way forward, with a good motor and relentless puck pursuit, but the offensive side of the game was thought to be where he would be challenged.
Pekar shifted to the OHL in 2019 and had success with the Barrie Colts (36 points in 33 games) in an injury-shortened season, followed by more success in the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign (28 goals, 35 assists in 51 games for the Colts and Sudbury Wolves) and also played for Czechia at the 2019 and 2020 World Juniors. He also made an impression at Sabres training camp with his rambunctious style and energetic play.
After going back home and playing while the OHL was shut down, Pekar returned to North America to embark on his pro career, but the success at the junior level evaded him. In 86 games over three seasons, he scored only 16 points (4 goals, 12 assists). His scoring totals rebounded once he was sent to ECHL Cincinnati in January, where he scored 24 points in 28 games.
After completing his entry-level contract in June, the Sabres did not extend a qualifying offer to the 23-year-old and he is currently an unrestricted free agent.
— Buffalo Hockey Moments (@SabresPlays) September 7, 2019