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:
#25 Nikita Novikov
The Sabres are exercising the option of letting their prospects develop outside North America for a year or two to gain experience. The Sabres had 11 picks in the 2021 NHL Draft, and of those selections, second-rounder Prokhor Poltapov, fifth-rounder Viljami Marjala, and sixth-rounder William Von Barnekow are remaining in Europe for another season. After signing his entry-level contract in May, sixth-rounder Nikita Novikov will follow in the footsteps of fellow ’21 draftees Isak Rosen, Aleksandr Kisakov, and Tyson Kozak and play in the AHL for Rochester this season.
The 6’4″, 210 lb. blueliner was selected 188th overall after playing 52 games for Moscow Dynamo’s junior-level club and opening some eyes with five assists and good performance for Russia at the World Junior Under-18’s. Size, physicality, and playing well positionally are Novikov’s main traits (which is the reason why he played nearly 100 KHL games before he turned 20). As with Mattias Samuelsson, Novikov’s defensive and physical attributes may contribute to him getting on a fast path to the NHL, but he will have to show that he can adjust to the style and speed of the North American game.
Easily one of the best defensive plays I've seen all tournament, Nikita Novikov makes the extra effort to get there just in time to stop the backdoor feed.#2021NHLDraft | #U18Worlds pic.twitter.com/crYMhAKOdY
— Raine Hernandez (@BringerOfRaine) May 6, 2021