Like their Northeast Division rivals, the Boston Bruins, the Buffalo Sabres have done an excellent job over the past five years or so in identifying young talent and bringing that talent to the NHL.
Included in the players who have made it through the Sabres’ system and become regulars at the NHL level in recent years are Jason Pominville, Thomas Vanek, Drew Stafford, Daniel Paille, Clarke MacArthur, Nathan Paetsch, and Andrej Sekera.
Unfortunately, free agent losses have caused the cupboard to be left almost completely bare after years of relative excess.
Here are the fantasyhockeynetwork.com choices of the top 5 prospects in the Buffalo Sabres’ system:
1. Tyler Myers, D—The 6’7” giant is more potential than performance at this point, but his combination of size, hands and skating ability make a lot of scouts drool over Myers’ potential.
Many feel Myers is close to NHL ready defensively and if he can harness his considerable physical talents he could develop into a true two-way threat. Still a few years away and with just as many questions as answers at this point, but certainly one worth watching.
2. Jhonas Enroth, G—Although small but NHL standards, Enroth has made believers out of the Sabres’ management. The 21-year old led Sweden to a silver medal at last year’s World Juniors and is rising quickly up the team’s depth chart.
The signing of franchise goalie Ryan Miller to a new five-year contract this off-season will certainly delay Enroth’s debut, but he still appears to be the heir apparent in the system.
3. Tyler Ennis, C—The diminutive Medicine Hat Tiger forward is regarded by many as one of the top pure offensive talents in this year’s draft despite his size. Ennis’ biggest assets are his quickness, competitiveness, work ethic and his ability to make plays in traffic. Will have to bulk up and improve his top end speed to be effective at the next level.
4. Marc-Andre Gragnani, LW—The converted defenseman is considered a rising star in the Buffalo system. The former QMJHL defender of the year, finished second in team scoring for the Sabres’ AHL affiliate in Rochester after a mid-December move to the wing.
Blessed with tremendous offensive skills, great work ethic and good size, Gragnani could develop into a top six offensive forward in the not too distant future.
5. Marek Zagrapan, C—A slick playmaker Zagrapan continues to develop and bulk-up and could get a chance at a full-time NHL job in 2008-09. More likely he’s still three years away and is still a legitimate boom or bust candidate.
But if he can learn to bring his “A” game to the rink every night and eliminate his penchant for taking bad penalties when his emotions get high, he’s a sure-fire top six forward candidate.
Up next, we’ll look at the top five fantasy prospects in the Calgary Flames organization.
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