Hockey'sfuture is a good read for info on prospects, and it's a site worth visiting for those interested in delving into NHL organizations and their talent pools.
I happened across and interesting read that goes back to October 12, 2005--The Buffalo Sabres Top-20 prospects ranking from Ken McKenna of Hockey'sfuture.
The NHL, as we all should know, was coming out of the lockout and the "new-NHL" emerging.
The Sabres had all of their top prospects playing in Rochester in the 2004/05 season with the Amerks falling short of the Calder Cup. But the Sabres came out of the lockout with a group of players that had a full year playing together in the AHL.
Out of this group emerged "the core," or as Sabres President Ted Black called them recently, "the Rochester Guys." It included present members Thomas Vanek, Derek Roy, Jason Pominville, and Drew Stafford as well as Paul Gaustad who was traded to the Nashville Predators at the 2012 trade deadline.
Also included in the top-20 were former Sabres forwards Daniel Paille and Clarke MacArthur, among others.
As we head towards the draft, free agency and the upcoming season, I found it interesting to look back at what was being said about "the core" at that time. (For the entire page and player analyses, click on the link above.)
(#1 prospect) Thomas Vanek--"Vanek has displayed the scoring touch that most expect from him, but he has also shown excellent passing skills that have come as a surprise to some observers. The bottom line is that Vanek is the package of offensive skill that the Sabres have lacked for many a year, a fact that should cheer Sabres fans that have suffered through some mediocre hockey since their last appearance in the playoffs in 2001."
#3 Derek Roy--"...his performance in camp was not quite good enough to help him secure that roster spot. Roy’s mediocre preseason performance, combined with his sometimes lackadaisical play in Rochester during the 2004-05 season no doubt has the Sabres concerned that the talented center is resting on past laurels."
#5 Drew Stafford--"While possessing some offensive ability, Stafford’s main attributes are his skating and consistent effort from game to game."
#6 Jason Pominville--"It would seem that Pominville has NHL ability, but it remains to be seen if his road to the NHL will run through Buffalo. There may simply be too much quality in front of him, as well as a few up-and-comers behind him, for Pominville to make his mark in this organization."
#8 Paul Gaustad--"Gaustad also has improved his skating to the point where he is now a bona fide NHL player who could eventually be a solid checking-line center. The Fargo, North Dakota native will never be an offensive star, but he could develop into one of the better role players in the NHL."
#4 Daniel Paille--" Paille did manage to impress some observers with his speed and effort, but his overall game is not yet to a point where he could push for a NHL job."
#7 Clarke MacArthur--"The Lloydminster, Alberta native is a good skater with a deft scoring touch, but his overall game needs refining before he is ready for the next level."
#2 Marek Zagrapan--"Although the Sabres had an obvious need for a top flight defenseman going into the 2005 NHL Draft, they instead chose to select skilled center Marek Zagrapan with their first pick...Zagrapan showed flashes of his ability during his time in camp, but he clearly requires more time to develop in the junior ranks."
For more info on the "Rochester Guys" and their careers with the Amerks, click here.