The Sabres reside in the city of hard luck, thanks to the Bills 4 straight Super Bowl losses and Brett Hull’s skate in 1999. The Sabres have developed a lot of great talent of the years, but because the team hasn’t shelled out big bucks, they’ve developed players for other teams.
The Sabres joined up with the Portland Pirates 2 years ago. The Pirates were born in 1993-94 when they were the baby club of the Washington Capitals. That’s also the year they won their one and only Calder Cup title.
Here now is a look at the top prospects of the Buffalo Sabres
Top Forward: Tyler Ennis
5.09, 163, 47 GP 13-29-42
Ennis is pure skill and he really has no choice at his size. The Edmonton product has good speed and is one of the shiftiest players to come out of the WHL in a long time. The Sabres second 1st round pick – 26th overall in 2008 finished his junior career in Medicine Hat with back to back 43 goal seasons, including scoring 6 in one game. This year in Portland, Ennis seems to be more of a set up man with twice as many helpers as goals. If you’re going to play as a small guy in the NHL, then you have to be exceptionally skilled, like a Martin St. Louis. Ennis knows that and could develop into the same type of player. He’s 2nd in AHL rookie scoring
Top Defenceman: Mike Weber
6.02, 211, 48 GP 1-12-13
If Tyler Myers doesn’t suit up for every game the Sabres play this year, he’s the subject of this topic, but the gigantic rearguard seems well on his way to leaving his prospect status behind, especially with his NHL rookie of the month honour for January. So with that said, we turn to a less offensive but effective blueliner in Portland, Mike Weber. Drafted in the 2nd round of the 2006 draft Weber plays it tough and this year has been steady Eddy in his own end. He leads the Pirates with a plus 17 rating and while he hasn’t racked up a ton of points, he’s been using his heavy shot quite a bit, with a defence leading 64 shots. Weber was a late cut this season and should graduate to the big team this year.
Top Goalie: Jhonas Enroth
5.10, 166, 18-14-1-3 2.45 .915
At 21 years old Johnas Enroth is getting a lesson in patience. With Ryan Miller signed through to the end of the 2014 season it means Enroth will either be buying some property in Portland or finding a cushion for the bench in Buffalo. That is unless the Sabres use him as trade bait. The 2nd round pick (46th overall) won 26 of the 58 games he started last season in Portland and has played in just one game in the NHL. Enroth made the Sabres look good at the 2008 World Junior Championship and is giving Sweden the reputation as a mini goaltending factory with Henrik Lundqvist and Jacob Markstrom. Unlike so many goaltenders who simply block shots, Enroth –mostly because of his size – is a reactionary goalie with an exceptional glove hand.
Most Underrated: Nathan Gerbe
5.05, 173, 30 GP 8-20-28
The Sabres have never been shy about taking a chance on a small player (Briere, Roy, Ennis) and Nathan Gerbe certainly fits that mold at just 5.05. But Gerbe holds his own on the ice at almost 175 pounds. He was a scoring machine with Boston College scoring 133 points in 123 games. Gerbe led the Eagles to a National Championship contributing to all 4 goals in the Frozen Four Final. A product of the U.S National development team, Gerbe is almost a point per game guy in the AHL and has 2 points in 2 games with the Sabres this year. Most people think his size will hold him back, but that’s where the former Hobey Baker award finalist’s determination and skill come in.
Buzz Worthy: Zach Kassian
6.03, 215, 34 GP 9-19-27
The Sabres first round pick, 13th overall last June has made headlines for all the wrong reasons this year. His goal production was down early when he was with Peterborough after a 24 goal season in 2009. Kassian wasn’t invited to Canada’s World Junior camp and shortly after the tournament was acquired by the highly touted Windsor Spitfires. However his run with the ‘Spits didn’t last long. After scoring in his Windsor debut, Kassian levelled Matt Kennedy of the Barrie Colts. Kennedy was convulsing on the ice before being helped off. Days later Kassian was suspended for 20 games, he’ll return to the ice for the final regular season game and playoffs.