NHL: Top 20 All Time Buffalo Sabres

Kevin FreiheitContributor ISeptember 16, 2010

NHL: Top 20 All Time Buffalo Sabres

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    Who are the top 20 Buffalo Sabres of all time?

    Obviously, there are going to be disagreements, but this is who I believe should be on the list at this point.

    There were difficult decisions on who to leave off of the list and how to rank them in order. Feel free to share your thoughts and comments.

    Thank you and enjoy!

No. 20: Chris Drury (Center)

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    He only played in Buffalo for three seasons, but he was a true captain on and off the ice. He scored that goal when it was needed most. His timely, clutch goals are why he was always on the ice in the last few minutes of a game.

    The hit that he took against Ottawa a few years back is what sparked the Sabres/Sens brawl. His biggest goal in Buffalo was in 2007 against the New York Rangers in the Conference Semifinals when he somehow managed to tie the game with only seconds remaining, changing the entire complexion of the series.

    Drury scored 18 points in 18 playoff games that year, and 13 in 16 the following year. Unfortunately, Drury wasn't re-signed and went on to play for the Rangers. 

    He has already won a Stanley Cup with Colorado and is now an experienced, true captain.

No. 19: Mike Ramsey (Defenseman)

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    Easily one of the best defensemen to ever play for the Sabres. Ramsey was a solid, physical defenseman who made his presence known on the ice.

    He was not a scorer. His best offensive season was in 1986 when he scored eight goals and recorded 31 assists. Ramsey was better known for his shut down defensive skills. 

    Ramsey finished his career with 345 points in 1,070 games.

    After his career, Ramsey decided to become an assistant coach for the Sabres. When the Minnesota Wild came into the league in 2000, Ramsey left Buffalo for his hometown and joined the Wild coaching staff.

No. 18: Daniel Briere (Center)

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    He may have been small, but Briere's offensive talent was often too big to handle for opposing players. 

    He played three full seasons with the Sabres, and his final year in 2007 was his best. Briere scored 95 points in 81 games that year. Briere also had 34 points in 34 career playoff games as a member of the Sabres.

    Briere's work behind the net was his biggest strength. Nobody could take the puck away from him, and from there he was able to make play after play.

    His career sky rocketed in Buffalo, where he was a leader on and off the ice, but it was short lived, and off to Philadelphia he went.

    Another true captain gone.

No. 17: Ryan Miller (Goaltender)

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    Miller has already made the Sabres Top 20 in my mind. In five seasons with the Sabres, Miller has surpassed 40 wins twice already, and would likely have done it a third time last season if he had not injured his ankle mid-season.

    Miller won the heart of a nation by leading Team USA to the gold medal game at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. He also put up a career best 2.22 goals against and a .929 save percentage last season, winning the Vezina Trophy to cap off a truly remarkable year.

    He still has plenty of time left, and if he keeps up at this rate, there is no question he will move into the top ten or five Buffalo Sabres of all time. 

    Comparing him with Dominik Hasek will just spark a whole new debate.

No. 16: Dale Hawerchuk (Center)

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    Hawerchuk is another player with a short tenure in Buffalo, playing only four seasons with the Sabres.

    Drafted 1st overall in 1981, Hawerchuk put up points like crazy. In four full seasons with Buffalo, his lowest point total was 86. He had years of 89,96, and 98 points well.

    Hawerchuk finished his Sabres career with an impressive 385 points in 342 games.

No. 15: Lindy Ruff (Left Wing/Defenseman)

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    How big of an impact he has had on the Sabres over the years? Not only has he been a tremendous coach since the 1990s, but he was a tough, physical player back in the day.

    He was exactly who you wanted to have in the locker room, and he still is today. He became the captain in 1987 after Gilbery Perreault left, and created a great team chemistry, especially with the younger players.

    He played 10 seasons with the Sabres and had 20 goals just once, but he only played in 54 games that year. During his prime, for three years, Ruff had injury problems and missed some time.

    Drafted 32nd overall, Ruff is a pick that the Sabres will never regret.

No. 14: Bill Hajt (Defenseman)

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    If you're going to talk about some of the Sabres' best defensemen, then Bill Hajt is certainly one of them. He made no mistake about clearing the puck out of the zone, and his breakout passing was phenomenal.

    He kept everything simple on the defensive side, but also used his strength and size to create scoring opportunities on the rush.

    In 13 seasons with the Sabres, he never scored more than 20 points, but he made up for it with his strong defensive abilities. Buffalo decided to take Hajt in the third round in the 1971 draft, using its first two selections of Rick Martin and Craig Ramsay.

    Hajt finished his career with 244 points in 854 games.

No. 13: Rob Ray (Right Wing)

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    "Razor" may not have had the scoring touch like some other players on the list, but he had heart, and he was fearless. 

    Ray finished his career playing with an even 900 games. In those games, Ray accumulated 3,207 penalty minutes, including more than 200 fighting majors. He also scored 40 goals and 91 points throughout his 16 year career. 

    Ray contributed not only to the team, but to the city of Buffalo as well. He has done charity work numerous times and is still working within the Sabres organization. 

    He will be mostly remembered for the fights where he ended up shirtless on the ice, or for beating up a drunken fan, or for his battles with Tie Domi. Regardless, Rob Ray made a huge impact with the Buffalo Sabres and is one tough guy that may never be topped.

No. 12: Alexander Mogilny (Right Wing)

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    He only spent six seasons with the Sabres, but Mogilny had some serious offensive skill. In 1991, he went on a goal scoring tear that lasted for next few seasons.

    He recorded 84 points in 67 games in '91. The next year 76 goals in 77 games, but that didn't even win him the scoring title. Teemu Selanne also had 76 goals that year. In that year, Mogilny also added 51 assists, bringing him up to a total of 127 points for the season.

    The biggest cause of all of those points was much in thanks to Pat LaFontaine, who the Sabres got from the Islanders. The two of them found ways to put the puck in the net. After LaFontaine's injuries, Mogilny's production decreased, and eventually, the Sabres didn't have the money to spent on such a big contract.

    Mogilny went to play for Vancouver, where he scored 107 points in his first season with the Canucks. He finished his career with 1,032 points in 990 games. Mogilny went on to win the Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils in 2000.

No. 11: Don Luce (Center)

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    In 10 seasons with the Sabres, Luce made quite an impact. Playing in the shadows of the French Connection, Luce was a regular 20 goal scorer that put up 60-70 points per season.

    Luce helped get the Sabres to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1975, and scored 13 points in 16 playoff games.

    Luce finished his career with 553 points in 894 games.

No. 10: Mike Foligno (Right Wing)

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    Foligno was a classy, physical forward, who put up solid numbers for the Sabres during the 1980s. 

    In 10 seasons with the Sabres, he was a 30 goal scorer and was counted on to put up around 50 points a year. 

    During his rookie year with Detroit, he scored 71 points, but would only surpass that total once more in his career. 

    He finished his career with 727 points in 1,018 games.

No. 9: Danny Gare (Right Wing)

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    In his rookie year with the Sabres, Gare and the team went to the Stanley Cup Finals. He posted 62 points in 78 regular season games, and then 13 points in 17 playoff games.

    Gare wouldn't make it to the Finals again during his career, but he did put up respectable numbers for the Sabres. 

    Gare had his best season in 1979, when he tallied 56 goals and 33 assists for 89 points. After playing eight years with the Sabres, Gare went on to play for the Detroit Red Wings, before finishing his career with the Edmonton Oilers.

    It came as a surprise when Gare was traded to Detroit. In the deal Gare was dealt along with Jim Schoenfeld and Derek Smith in exchange for Mike Foligno, Dale McCourt and Brent Peterson.

    Gare finished his career with 685 points in 827 games.

No. 8: Pierre Turgeon (Center)

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    Although he only played in Buffalo for five seasons, Turgeon made quite an impact thanks to his offensive skills.

    During his second year in the NHL in 1987, Turgeon scored 88 points in 80 games. The year after, he improved by collecting 106 points in 80 games. He had at least 79 points in three out of four full seasons with the Sabres, but was then traded to the Islanders.

    Turgeon had his biggest year with the Islanders in 1992, scoring 132 points in 83 games. His playmaking ability is what has him on this list, despite only playing in Buffalo for five years.

    Turgeon finished his career with 1,327 points in 1,294 games.

No. 7: René Robert (Center/Right Wing)

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    He may have gone undrafted, but Robert eventually became part of the greatest line in Sabres history: The French Connection. Robert was initially offered a five game tryout with the Toronto Maple Leafs, but he didn't perform well.

    Eventually though his hard work and effort would pay off. A year later, Pittsburgh claimed him off of waivers and Robert's production improved a little. He scored 18 points in 48 games, but was then traded to Buffalo, where he made an immediate impact with the Sabres.

    Robert scored 83 points in 75 games during his first season with Buffalo. The next year, he had 100 points in 74 games, followed by another year of 87 points in 72 games.

    A few years later he was traded to Colorado, and ended up finishing his career in Toronto, where it had started. Robert finished his career with 702 points in 744 games.

No. 6: Jim Schoenfeld (Defenseman)

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    He began his career with the Sabres in 1972, scoring 19 points in 66 games, but offense wasn't his strength. Schoenfeld was drafted 5th overall because of his tremendous defensive ability.

    Not only was he able to block shots and shutdown opposing offenses, but he was a physical defenseman who wasn't afraid to drop the gloves. 

    His most memorable moment may have been when Schoenfeld got into a fight along the boards and caused the zamboni doors to open. The fight then continued into the hallway. He got into three fights during that game.

    Schoenfeld finished his career with 255 points in 719 games, along with 1,132 penalty minutes. He then went on to become a head coach for a few different NHL teams.

No. 5: Dominik Hasek (Goaltender)

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    The greatest Sabres goaltender of all-time (with all-due respect to Ryan Miller), Hasek was also one of the most entertaining to watch. "The Dominator" came to play every night, making awe-inspiring saves, and putting up impressive numbers season after season.

    In the 1997-'98 season, Hasek posted 33 wins, 13 of those being shutouts. He won the Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player and the next year led the Sabres to the Stanley Cup Finals. 

    Although Buffalo fell to the Stars in six games (due to the apparent no-goal call), Hasek posted phenomenal numbers. He posted a 1.77 goals against average and a .939 save percentage through the post-season.

    After groin injuries and a trade, Hasek eventually went on to win the Cup with Detroit. That only polished his already impressive resume.

    Hasek finished with six Vezina Trophies as the league's top goaltender (in seven years), two Hart Trophies, two Pearson Trophies given to the league's most valuable player according to Players Association, two Stanley Cup finals appearances and 46 shutouts. 

No. 4: Phil Housley (Defenseman/Left Wing)

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    In eight seasons with the Sabres, Housley proved himself as one of the best. His two-way playing style, and his ability to produce on offense, convinced Buffalo to select him 6th overall in 1982.

    Housley put up 66 points in 77 games in his rookie season with Buffalo, as a defenseman! The next season he had 77 points in 75 games. In his final season with the Sabres, he totaled 81 points in 80 games. 

    He then went on to play for seven different teams before retiring with 1,232 points in 1,495 games.

    In 608 games with the Sabres, Housley scored 558 points.

No. 3: Rick Martin (Wing)

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    He started playing hockey at the age of eight, and would eventually become known as one of the members or the Sabres' French Connection. 

    In his first rookie year with the Sabres, Martin scored 44 goals, and finished with 74 points in 73 games. 

    Martin was known to have one of the quickest shots for the Sabres, and he showed why with his yearly statistics. In 1974-'75, Martin recorded 95 points, and then 15 more in 17 playoff games that season.

    Martin was also a solid two-way player, but was forced to retire early at the age of 30. After injuring his knee and requiring surgery, Martin just wasn't the same again.

    He finished his career with 701 points in 685 games.

No. 2: Pat LaFontaine (Center)

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    He was one of the most exciting players to watch. LaFontaine began his NHL career with the New York Islanders, scoring 19 points in 15 games in his first season. He only got better.

    A few years later, LaFontaine caught his stride, scoring at least 40 goals in six consecutive seasons, two of those with Buffalo. None of those seasons were as big as the one he had during 1992-'93. During that year, at age 27, LaFontaine collected 53 goals and 148 points.

    After that, it was downhill, and Sabres fans had to say goodbye to a legend. LaFontaine had to have knee surgery, causing him to miss almost all of the following season. He returned the next year with another 91 points, but was plagued by concussion problems.

    LaFontaine was not cleared to play by the doctors, but still wanted to play. Then, he demanded a trade to a team whose doctors would clear him to play. That team was the Rangers. LaFontaine scored 62 points in 67 games, but suffered his 5th concussion after colliding with a teammate.

    LaFontaine finished his career with 1,013 points in 865 games.

No. 1: Gilbert Perreault (Center)

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    With the first pick ever for the Buffalo Sabres franchise, the team selected Gilbert Perreault. The legendary centerman would lead the team to victories night in and night out.

    Perreault's first season was just the beginning as he scored 72 points in 78 games. His biggest season came in 1975-'76 when he scored 44 goals and 113 points.

    Later in his career, Perreault pondered the thought of demanding a trade, only because he had yet to win the Stanley Cup. Although he never did win the Cup, he became the Sabres all-time leader in goals (512), assists (814), and points (1,326).

    There is no doubt that Perreault is the greatest player to have ever played for the Buffalo Sabres.


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