Nick Crawford is one of a solid core of young, strong defensemen in the Buffalo Sabres organization. He spent last season with the Rochester Americans of the AHL, and has one year left on his entry-level contract with the team.
The 22-year old was drafted by the Sabres in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, 164th overall. A native of Caledon, Ontario (near Brampton), he spent few good seasons in the Ontario Hockey League – first with the Saginaw Spirit, then with the Barrie Colts for a portion of the 2009-10 year.
His best year statistically came with the Barrie Colts, where he played 49 games and tallied 49 points in that time span.
After his last season in the OHL – during which he became the first defensemen in league history to lead in both defensive scoring and plus-minus in the same season - Crawford signed a three-year deal with the Sabres.
Crawford then began the 2010-11 season with the AHL’s Portland Pirates, his first in the professional league. He accrued 31 points in 76 regular season games that year, and also played in twelve playoff games.
This past season was his first with the Rochester Americans. In 70 regular season games, he had six goals and 16 assists – not bad for a young defenseman. He also had one assist in three playoff games against the Toronto Marlies in round one.
With a boatload of defensemen already on the Sabres roster for next season, and a handful of youngsters also lined up for the replacement spots (see Brayden McNabb, T.J. Brennan), it seems likely that Crawford will continue his time in the AHL, at least for one more year.
The future after that is unknown, but for now, Crawford is a youthful defensemen with some spark who certainly has some NHL potential.