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:
#20 Olivier Nadeau
The Sabres have the luxury of time with their European and NCAA prospects to evaluate them before making a contractual commitment, but that is not the case with players drafted out of the CHL. Buffalo had 11 picks in the 2021 NHL Draft, including a pair of picks in the first three rounds. Five of those selections are either playing in the NHL, AHL, in College or the KHL. Third-rounder Josh Bloom needed to be signed to an entry-level contract or he would have gone back into the draft, so GM Kevyn Adams sent the winger to the Vancouver Canucks for defenseman Riley Stillman. In the fourth round, Buffalo selected another CHLer in forward Olivier Nadeau.
The 6’2″, 204 lb. winger was selected 97th overall out of the QMJHL’s Shawinigan Cataractes after averaging more than a point per game (13 goals, 32 assists in 34 games). The following year, Nadeau set career-highs in goals (35) and points (78), winning a QMJHL Championship and played in the Memorial Cup. Last season, the 20-year-old was dealt to Gatineau and missed three months recovering from shoulder surgery, but once again posted impressive numbers in an abbreviated season (22 goals, 24 assists in 34 games), prompting the Sabres to sign him to a three-year deal in May.
Olivier Nadeau with a little saucer pass to start the pretty passing play as Gatineau goes up 3-1 on Rouyn-Noranda. pic.twitter.com/NFYzahhOub
— Kris Baker (@SabresProspects) April 18, 2023
With a number of smaller, speedy players in the pipeline, Buffalo sees someone who is not afraid to go to the dirty areas to get the job done.
“That’s really been the strength of his game since we drafted him, just his ability to play in and around the net and score goals there,” Buffalo director of player development Adam Mair said in March. “He’s got really soft hands, he’s a smart player, he’s a heavier body. So getting to that area and understanding how to get lost and also how to screen, find tips, those kinds of things, it comes naturally to him.”