The Greatest Sabres: No.9 Alexander Mogilny

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The Greatest Sabres: No.9 Alexander Mogilny

 

I continue my countdown of the greatest Sabres in team history with number nine on my list: the original "Alexander the Great"--Alexander Mogilny. Born February 18, 1969 in Khabarovsk, USSR, Mogilny formed one of the most dynamic lines in international history, skating with Pavel Bure and Sergei Fedorov.

After taking "Best Forward" honors at the 1988 World Juniors, he was selected 89th overall in the 1988 NHL Entry Draft by the Buffalo Sabres. In a rare move at the time, Mogilny defected from Russia with help form Sabres representatives. He wore the number 89 in recognition of his place in the draft and the year he defected.

After two steady seasons to start his NHL career, Mogilny became an All-Star for the Sabres in 1991-1992, posting 39 goals and 84 points in 67 games. It was ultimately the next season, 1992-1993, that made his place in Sabres history secure.

On his way to earning his second consecutive All-Star appearance, Mogilny exploded for 76 goals in 77 games, posting a staggering 127 points while playing with Pat LaFontaine, who had 148 points on the strength of 95 assists. Mogilny technically picked up his 50th goal in his 48th game that year, but it wasn't counted, as it was the team's 53rd game.

In 1993-1994, on his way to his third consecutive All-Star appearance, he experienced a decline, as expected. His totals dipped to 32 goals and 79 points in 66 games. The lockout shortened 1994-1995 season would be his last in Buffalo, posting 47 points in 44 games before heading to Vancouver. 

He would spend time in New Jersey (winning a Cup in 2000) and Toronto before ending up back in New Jersey to finish his career. Mogilny left his mark in Buffalo with his tremendous skating ability and quick wrist shot that enabled him to score from anywhere. 

His 76-goal season electrified the city and gave us a brief taste of the kind of impact he and LaFontaine could make. He was the second European to lead the league in goals (along with Teemu Selanne), the first European Captain, first Russian named to the NHL All-Star team, and as of the end of 2005-2006, was the second all-time Russian scorer in the NHL.

He should have also been the first Russian player to score 1,000 points in the NHL but injuries delayed him from reaching that milestone until Sergei Fedorov reached that mark just a few games before him. Fedorov would later say in an interview, "I really have to share this honor with Alexander Mogilny.

I knew he would've reached the mark much earlier than I did if it wasn't for his injuries.” Alexander the Great left his unique mark on Sabres history. Our only wish is that he and LaFontaine could have stayed healthy long enough to replicate that 1992-1993 season. Stay tuned for number eight.

 

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