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:
#24 Stiven Sardarian
The Sabres have the luxury of having their prospects overcook in the minors and in Europe over the next few years to mature and gain experience. The Sabres had 11 picks in the 2021 NHL Draft, including a pair of picks in the first three rounds. Owen Power stayed at Michigan after being selected first overall and joined Buffalo late in the season, first-rounder Isak Rosen and second-rounder Aleksandr Kisakov stayed another year in Europe before heading to North America and playing a full season in the AHL with Rochester, second-rounder Prokhor Poltapov will play another season in the KHL. Third-rounder Stiven Sardarian is the only one of the six selections that is not playing professionally,
The St. Petersburg native was selected 88th overall after playing in the Moscow Dynamo system. The young forward opted to come to North America after committing to play for the University of New Hampshire, playing 46 games in 2021-22 for the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL.
Stiven Sardarian down the wing and scores on a nice wrist shot at the beginning of development camp practice: pic.twitter.com/Exw65F85ik
— Lance Lysowski (@LLysowski) July 3, 2023
“First reason (for coming to North America), I want to play in the NHL,” Sardarian said to Matthew Fairburn of the Athletic. “I want to be smarter, too. It’s a good decision to be in NCAA because I can have good studies and play really good hockey. When UNH invited me, I was in Russia and I was thinking but I decided correctly. I’m happy to be here.”
Sardarian is slight at 6’1″, 157 lb. and that lack of strength may have been a factor in his low production as a freshman at UNH (two goals in 29 games), but the Sabres are hopeful to see more progress out of the 20-year-old as a sophomore. Hockey Prospect’s Black Book’s analysis of the young Russian reflects the challenges Sardarian faces, saying that he “doesn’t leave a lot of residue on the game…including his shot, which is rather weak and takes him a lot of time to muster up. His skill level is fine, but he gets pushed to the perimeter without much of a fight. That’s really a statement on his game as a whole. He is notably reticent to give or take contact. His defensive zone play is virtually non-existent, in large part because of his averseness to contact.”