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Buffalo Sabres Top Prospects – #17: Gavin McCarthy



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:

#17 Gavin McCarthy

The Sabres seemed to shift slightly from their high-skill and speed focus at the 2023 NHL Draft in Nashville after selecting Zach Benson in the first round, selecting big Swedish center Anton Wahlberg and Slovakian defenseman Maxim Strbak in the second round, and blueliner Gavin McCarthy in the third round.


McCarthy is a native of Clarence Center, NY, and was selected 86th overall after scoring 27 points (8 goals, 19 assists) and compiling 88 penalty minutes with Muskegon Lumberjacks of the USHL last season. The 6’2″, 185 lb blueliner is well known to Sabres GM Kevyn Adams since he played three seasons of youth hockey in the Buffalo Jr. Sabres system.

“One of the advantages of, in my situation, when you have information like that, is you see a kid with high character at 10 years old and you’ve got a pretty good foundation there,” Adams said to Heather Engel of “(That) definitely played a role in ultimately picking him in the draft.”

Elite Prospects 2023 Draft Guide describes McCarthy as a ‘part-robust defender, part-clever creator, who throws crushing hits, wins inside positioning, and eliminates off-puck threats. When the puck arrives, his advantage-creating skills take over. He fakes out incoming forecheckers before hitting both long-range darts and slick short-range plays around opponents. There’s also plenty of flash to McCarthy’s puck game. An angle-changing wrister and a non-stop activation game make him a constant threat.”

Following his older brother Case’s footsteps (a New Jersey Devils draft pick), McCarthy is heading to play for Boston University this fall.