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31 in 31

Top prospects for Buffalo Sabres

Defenseman Guhle could play in NHL this season

by Joe Yerdon / NHL.com Correspondent

NHL.com is providing in-depth prospect analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, the Buffalo Sabres.

The Buffalo Sabres' pipeline of prospects is in transition with a few players knocking on the NHL door. Players who spent parts of the past two seasons in the American Hockey League and NHL are at a point when the pressure is on to make an impact in the NHL, because they'll have competition coming soon.

After Jason Botterill replaced Tim Murray as general manager on May 11, that pressure may be lessened if Botterill uses the same approach to managing prospects that was used during his time with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Sabres will need some help soon to go along with productive young players Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart and Rasmus Ristolainen.

 

[SABRES 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Fantasy breakdown | Behind the numbers]

 

Here are the Sabres' top five prospects, according to NHL.com:

 

1. Brendan Guhle, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 51 pick in 2015 NHL Draft

Last season: Buffalo: 3 GP, 0-0-0; Rochester (AHL): 6 GP, 1-1-2; Prince George (WHL): 32 GP 13-16-29; Prince Albert (WHL): 15 GP 2-2-4

Guhle, 20, got a taste the NHL last season and provided a glimpse of what's made him a top prospect with his ability to carry the puck with speed and poise.

Guhle (6-foot-1, 186 pounds) completed his final season at the junior level with Prince George of the Western Hockey League and will most likely be a full-time player with Rochester in the AHL this season. But considering his skill set and new Sabres coach Phil Housley, Guhle could be on the fast track.

Projected NHL arrival: This season

 
2. Alexander Nylander, RW

How acquired: Selected with No. 8 pick of 2016 NHL Draft

Last season: Buffalo: 4 GP, 0-1-1; Rochester (AHL): 65 GP, 10-18-28

Nylander, 19, was one of the youngest players in the AHL last season and worked to find consistency in his game.

The wing (6-1, 180) has great hands and tremendous skill, and said he added muscle this offseason. Called up for four NHL games last season, he'll be counted on to show noticeable improvement in Rochester and make a push for the Sabres roster.

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

 

3. Casey Mittelstadt, C

How acquired: Selected with No. 8 pick of 2017 NHL Draft

Last season: Eden Prairie HS (Minn.): 25 GP, 21-43-64; Green Bay (USHL): 24 GP, 13-17-30

The Sabres are hoping they got a steal with Mittelstadt, 18, in this year's draft. At Eden Prairie High School, he was a dangerous scorer with a quick shot and excellent puck-handling ability, which helped him win the Minnesota Mr. Hockey Award as the outstanding senior player of the year.

Mittelstadt (6-1, 201) was invited to the World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Michigan, and will be a candidate to play for the United States at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship in Buffalo. The Sabres will watch Mittelstadt closely this season when he heads to the University of Minnesota.

Projected NHL arrival: 2019-20

 

4. Rasmus Asplund, C

How acquired: Selected with No. 33 pick in 2016 NHL Draft

Last season: Farjestad (Sweden): 39 GP, 6-13-19

Asplund, 19, will spend one more season in Sweden before coming to North America. At development camp in July, he won the Craig Ramsay Award for leadership and was one of the more impressive players. He showed tenacity on his forecheck and ability to score with a good shot.

Asplund (5-11, 176) is hoping to make an impression with Sweden's national team this season with the chance to play at the 2018 IIHF World Championship and possibly the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics. 

Projected NHL arrival: 2019-20

 

5. William Borgen, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 92 pick in 2015 NHL Draft

Last season: St. Cloud State (NCAA): 33 GP, 2-10-12

Borgen, 20, will return to college for his junior season, saying his decision was because his education is his No. 1 priority. 

Borgen (6-2, 188) said his key for this season was to get stronger and work on his shot to generate more scoring, although he was used primarily in penalty-killing situations rather than on the power play.

Projected NHL arrival: 2019-20

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