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Updated Sabres Organizational Depth Chart

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Buffalo Sabres depth chart

It’s time for a breakdown of the Buffalo Sabres depth chart, position by position, for a complete picture of the players and prospects in the organization from top to bottom.

General manager Kevyn Adams shed some light on the team’s offseason plans Thursday, giving us a clearer picture of where players stand in the organization. There is bound to be a slew of transactions in the upcoming weeks, with the NHL draft, free agency, and potential trades looming. It’s important to understand where the current roster and prospect pool stand, so we can anticipate the areas that need to be addressed.

Edit: Offseason additions are highlighted in bold and included in updates for complete analysis.

Center

NHL

  • Tage Thompson
  • Dylan Cozens
  • Ryan McLeod
  • Peyton Krebs [RFA]
  • Sam Lafferty

In the System

  • Jiri Kulich
  • Noah Ostlund
  • Anton Wahlberg
  • Mason Jobst
  • Josh Dunne
  • Tyson Kozak

Unsigned Drafted

  • Konsta Helenius
  • Matteo Costantini
  • William von Barnekow
  • Gustav Karlsson
  • Linus Sjodin

The glaring hole down the middle is an NHL middle-six center, who can interchange with Dylan Cozens on the second or third line. Casey Mittelstadt was offensively gifted in that role, but the Sabres will likely be looking for someone more defensively responsible to fill out the depth chart this offseason.

Savoie, Kulich, and Ostlund are all on the verge of being NHL-ready, with the safety net option of starting next season in Rochester. Savoie or Kulich may make the shift to the wing as well, whether that be a temporary or permanent adjustment.

Wahlberg marks the fourth prospect center in the system with NHL upside and is much bigger than the former first-rounders in front of him. He’ll continue to harness his skillset and ultimately provide the Sabres with a different dynamic.

Update 6/29

Konsta Helenius, once signed, will jump into the Savoie, Kulich, and Ostlund group as four of Buffalo’s top prospects. Adams labeled Helenius as a “true center”, unlike Savoie and Kulich, who may shift to the wing in the NHL.

Update 7/7

In comes Ryan McLeod, who slots into third on the depth chart after Thompson and Cozens. Krebs can overtake McLeod still with a big jump in development, but he’s likely to remain on the fourth line.

Sam Lafferty also joins the group via free agency, adding much-needed depth up the middle. He can shift to wing as well, helping the overall versatility of the forward group.

Out goes top-tier center prospect Savoie, who had the most unknown of the top prospects based on his development path. Don’t be surprised if Helenius rises quickly to the top of the pack not in the NHL, based on the refined talent we’ve seen from him already at such a young age.

Mason Jobst and Josh Dunne add depth to Rochester, although Dunne has some NHL experience. Jobst was one of the better-producing Amerks last season and earned an NHL two-way contract.

Related: Sabres Want Cates, Not Laughton From Flyers

Left Wing

NHL

  • JJ Peterka
  • Zach Benson
  • Jason Zucker
  • Jordan Greenway
  • Beck Malenstyn

In the System

  • Alexander Kisakov
  • Viktor Neuchev
  • Brett Murray

Unsigned Drafted

  • Prokar Poltapov
  • Ethan Miedema

Peterka established himself as the top left wing on the team after this past season, pushing Skinner off Thompson’s line. With Benson showing incredible versatility and promise in his rookie season, he’s arguably surpassed Skinner too.

This has led to recent speculation of an upcoming buyout of the Sabres’ highest-paid forward to better allocate his salary. If Skinner regains his scoring touch, he’s one of the most valuable even-strength players in the league. If he’s stuck on the third line again, given his defensive woes, there are better fits on the open market.

Kisakov and Neuchev showed some nice signs in Rochester, as they are developing as NHL hopefuls. Poltapov, whom Adams mentioned on Thursday, will remain in Russia until his contract expires. He was selected ahead of Kisakov and the Sabres are still very high on him.

Miedema also deserves mention, as he’s a skilled, big forward who should earn a contract soon. In terms of quality, the Sabres are strong at left wing on the depth chart.

Update 6/29

Beck Malenstyn slots immediately onto the Sabres’ fourth line and projects to help the penalty kill. His physical play and shot-blocking efforts help define a new bottom-six in Buffalo. Jeff Skinner has been removed from the depth chart, as Adams has confirmed the buyout process has been initiated.

Update 7/7

Jason Zucker joins Malenstyn in entering the fold this offseason, replacing the bought-out Skinner. Peterka and Benson are long-term mainstays with the team, and Kisakov, Neuchev, Poltapov, and Miedema are talented prospects. Still, it’s the thinnest position by quantity outside of the NHL, although the left-shooting Kulich, Isak Rosen, or Lukas Rousek could play the left side.

Brett Murray rejoins the fold as a familiar face in the organization.

Must Read: The Sabres Could Use a Matt Rempe

Right Wing

NHL

  • Alex Tuch
  • Jack Quinn
  • Nicolas Aube-Kubel

In the System

  • Isak Rosen
  • Lukas Rousek
  • Tyler Tullio
  • Olivier Nadeau

Unsigned Drafted

  • Stiven Sardarian
  • Brodie Ziemer
  • Jake Richard
  • Aaron Huglen
  • Joel Ratkovic Berndtsson
  • Vasily Zelenov

With only two right-shot wingers on the NHL roster, there’s room for additions to the right side. Rosen and Rousek (both left-shots) received call-up stints but didn’t show enough to prove they’re ready to fill an everyday role. Savoie is a right-handed shot that could shift to the wing if he proves ready in training camp.

This past season, Nadeau played mostly for Buffalo’s affiliate in the ECHL, Jacksonville. He’ll look to transition to a full-time AHL job and prove he still has some upside. If he develops the power-forward qualities the Sabres saw when they drafted him, it should help the outlook at right wing on the depth chart.

Sardarian is less like the other Russian prospects drafted by the Sabres in that he’s in the NCAA. Hughlen is as well, as his long route to his senior season takes form for the 2019 fourth-round draft pick. Richard’s strong freshman season in the NCAA arguably vaults him ahead of both unsigned prospects, despite being a sixth-round selection.

Update 6/29

Brodie Ziemer is an effective, high-energy player who projects as a bottom-six forward long-term. He adds to a thin right-wing pipeline, as does seventh-round pick Vasily Zelenov, should he progress and earn an entry-level deal.

Update 7/7

Nicolas Aube-Kubel brings a grinding, forechecking mentality to the right wing. The right side could use a jolt beyond Tuch and Quinn, which is expected to come from Rosen next season. Tyler Tullio, who came over in the Savoie-McLeod deal, still has NHL aspirations.

A slew of unsigned right wing prospects impressed during development camp, including Sardarian, Ziemer, and Richard, and could bolster the position’s outlook.

Must Read: Sabres Draft Marner, Not Eichel in 2015 Redraft

Left Defense

NHL

  • Rasmus Dahlin
  • Owen Power
  • Bowen Byram
  • Mattias Samuelsson
  • Ryan Johnson
  • Jacob Bryson

In the System

  • Dennis Gilbert
  • Kale Clague
  • Jack Rathbone
  • Nikita Novikov
  • Colton Poolman

Unsigned Drafted

  • Luke Osburn
  • Norwin Panocha
  • Patrick Geary
  • Sean Keohane

The Sabres’ overload of left-handed shots on defense is a luxury, with Dahlin, Byram, and Samuelsson able to shift to the right side regularly. The promise shown by Johnson in his rookie season ranks him ahead of Bryson, whose contract status is uncertain.

Clague’s status is also up in the air, as the Sabres could look elsewhere to pad the organizational depth chart. Novikov is the only developing left-defense prospect in the pool, marking a potential area of need in the upcoming draft.

With Dahlin, Power, and Samuelsson locked up long-term, the thinness of the prospect system on the backend isn’t a cause for too much concern.

Update 6/29

Adding Luke Osburn in the fourth round and Patrick Geary in the sixth round addresses the thinness of the defensive prospect pool. The left side, in particular, is fairly unimpressive beyond the NHL.

Update 7/7

Releasing and re-signing Bryson and adding Dennis Gilbert makes a four-man competition for one, maybe two, NHL spots with Johnson and Clague. Johnson might be the highest-regarded within the organization, but also the most likely of the bunch to start in Rochester. Playing time is important to his development, and the Sabres now have other options.

Related: Why the Sabres Are Winning the Mittelstadt Trade

Right Defense

NHL

  • Henri Jokiharju
  • Connor Clifton

In the System

  • Vsevolod Komarov

Unsigned Drafted

  • Maxim Strbak
  • Adam Kleber
  • Gavin McCarthy
  • Simon-Pier Brunet

Speaking of shallowness on the blueline, the Sabres only have five right-shot defensemen in the organization. That is if Jokiharju re-signs, which is expected after posting his best season in Buffalo. Clifton proved he’s strictly a third-pair defenseman, leaving room for an upgrade on the depth chart if Sabres management so chooses.

While Komarov is the only other right defenseman under contract, he’s coming off an incredible season in the QMJHL. He earned Defenseman of the Year honors after scoring 69 points in 60 games for the Quebec Remparts and Drummondville Voltigeurs. He also won the Guy Lafleur Trophy as the playoff MVP. He’ll look to transition those puck skills to the AHL while rounding out his defensive game.

Strbak and McCarthy are both developing in the NCAA but are expected to sign with Buffalo eventually as second and third-round picks, respectively.

Update 6/29

Adam Kleber combines with Maxim Strbak as two promising right-shot defensemen to eventually replace Buffalo’s patchwork options at right defense. Simon-Pier Brunet adds much-needed depth to the right side as well. With proper development, the overall outlook of the position improves greatly.

Update 7/7

The Sabres will rely on their left-shot defensemen to fill the void on the right side. Jokiharju signed for one year and can walk right into unrestricted free agency. Without a long-term contract for the position, Buffalo still might hunt for another viable solution while Strbak and Kleber develop.

Goaltender

NHL

  • Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen [RFA]
  • Devon Levi
  • James Reimer

In the System

  • Felix Sandstrom

Unsigned Drafted

  • Scott Ratzlaff
  • Topias Leinonen
  • Ryerson Leenders

Goalie is a giant need for the organization, but not necessarily for the big club. Luukkonen is expected to re-sign shortly and team up with Levi to provide a very young, but talented, goaltending tandem.

Ratzlaff and Leinonen are unsigned and not expected to report to Rochester next season, leaving the Sabres searching for a third, fourth, and fifth goalie to round out the depth chart and man the net in Rochester.

The organization’s third goalie could prove invaluable if Adams follows recent trends across the NHL. Alex Lyon claimed the net in Detroit after starting as the team’s third goalie. New Jersey was desperate for quality netminding, causing them to reach fourth on their depth chart for any substance. Injuries vaulted Arturs Silovs into playoff action for Vancouver, and he retained the net over backup Casey DeSmith.

Update 6/29

Ryerson Leenders adds another flier into the mix for unsigned goaltending prospects. Ratzlaff’s development and Leinone’s draft capital keep them ahead of Leenders, but he’s an intriguing talent nonetheless.

Update 7/7

James Reimer and Felix Sandstrom are the veteran goalie signings the Sabres needed. Both could end up in Rochester, as Devon Levi is expected to stay in the NHL full-time this season. Reimer would have to clear waivers to be sent down, creating uncertainty around his status.

Must Read: 3 Major Takeaways From Adams and Forton Presser

Sabres Depth Chart

For the complete picture of the organization, here’s a table showing the full Buffalo Sabres depth chart. Adjustments will be made after the dust settles on the offseason, as the draft and free agency kick off in the coming weeks.

CenterLeft WingRight WingLeft DefenseRight DefenseGoaltender
Tage ThompsonJJ PeterkaAlex TuchRasmus DahlinHenri JokiharjuUkko-Pekka Luukkonen
Dylan CozensZach BensonJack QuinnOwen PowerConnor CliftonDevon Levi
Ryan McLeodJason ZuckerNicolas Aube-KubelBowen ByramVsevolod KomarovJames Reimer
Peyton KrebsJordan GreenwayIsak RosenMattias SamuelssonMaxim StrbakFelix Sandstrom
Sam LaffertyBeck MalenstynLukas RousekRyan JohnsonAdam KleberScott Ratzlaff
Jiri KulichAlexander KisakovTyler TullioJacob BrysonGavin McCarthyTopias Leinonen
Noah OstlundViktor NeuchevOlivier NadeauDennis GilbertSimon-Pier BrunetRyerson Leenders
Anton WahlbergBrett MurrayStiven SardarianKale Clague
Mason JobstProkar PoltapovBrodie ZiemerJack Rathbone
Josh DunneEthan MiedemaJake RichardNikita Novikov
Tyson KozakAaron HuglenColton Poolman
Konsta HeleniusJoel Ratkovic BerndtssonLuke Osburn
Matteo CostantiniVasily ZelenovNorwin Panocha
William von BarnekowPatrick Geary
Gustav KarlssonSean Keohane
Linus Sjodin