NHL Network released their list of the top prospects on Friday and four Buffalo Sabres appeared on the list. Forwards Zach Benson, Matthew Savoie, Jiri Kulich, and goalie Devon Levi ranked in the top 30 prospects, but the order in which the players appeared is curious, to say the least.
The Top 50 Prospects in the NHL, revealed.
Let's hear it 🧐 do you agree? pic.twitter.com/nAHLhOlXMM
— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) August 11, 2023
Questioning The Rankings
Benson, who was selected 13th overall at the 2023 NHL Draft in Nashville, ranked 19th on the list after leading the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice in scoring with 98 points (36 goals, 62 assists) in 60 games, eight spots ahead of linemate Savoie, who had a career-high 95 points (38 goals, 57 assists) and 11 goals in the WHL Playoffs. Both players are expected to play for Team Canada at the 2024 World Junior Championships in Sweden this December.
Kulich (who was ranked 28th) had a phenomenal year after being selected 28th in the first round of the 2022 Draft in Montreal, scoring seven goals for Czechia in the 2023 IIHF World Junior, scoring 24 goals in the AHL with Rochester and leading the Amerks to the final four in the Calder Cup Playoffs with seven goals. In the opinion of most prospect prognosticators, the 19-year-old is considered the equal to Benson and Savoie as an offensive contributor and closer to being an NHLer after proving himself in a North American pro league.
The biggest head-scratcher was Levi being ranked as the 30th prospect behind the three Sabres forwards and as the fourth goaltender behind Minnesota Wild’s Jesper Wallstedt (#21), Nashville Predators Yaroslav Askarov (#22), and Dustin Wolf of the Calgary Flames (#29). The common trend of the three ranked ahead of Levi is their playing at least one season in the American Hockey League, while the Sabres prospect played two seasons at Northeastern University before a brief stint with the Sabres late last season. The other commonality is that Wallstedt, Askarov, and Wolf are long shots to get significant NHL playing time this season, while Levi is expected to get the bulk of the work between the pipes for Buffalo.
#HEPlaysOfTheYear Men's CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND
— Hockey East (@hockey_east) August 9, 2023