Top 5 prospects who can make the Buffalo Sabres lineup in 2023-24

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Although Kyle Okposo is returning to the Buffalo Sabres for 2023-24, there are a few prospects who could still sneak their way into the lineup. 

Despite Kyle Okposo re-signing with the Buffalo Sabres, there are still plenty of potential spots left in the lineup. At the time of this writing, the Blue and Gold have not yet re-signed Zemgus Girgensons, and to retain Jost, they would need to extend a qualifying offer. Further, Vinnie Hinostroza, barring something unforeseen, won’t be back.

Then there is always the possibility general manager Kevyn Adams moves Victor Olofsson, which could open an additional spot. This means that at forward, up to four more spots can open with potential voids from Girgensons, Jost, Olofsson, and the surefire void Hinostroza will leave.

Realistically, however, Jost and Girgensons could easily return, which realistically opens two spots: One that Hinostroza leaves vacant, and one from Olofsson. So which five prospects have the best chance to snag one of the one to four open spots in the lineup? Keep reading for a rundown.

Buffalo Sabres

HALIFAX, CANADA – DECEMBER 31: Jiri Kulich #25 of Team Czechia skates during the third period against Team Germany in the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship at Scotiabank Centre on December 31, 2022 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Team Czechia defeated Team Germany 8-1. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Prospects who can see time with the Buffalo Sabres in 2023-24

1 – Jiri Kulich

At this point, Jiri Kulich appears to be ready to make the jump more than any other prospect in the Buffalo Sabres pool. Kulich’s performance so far in the 2023 Calder Cup Playoffs catapulted him to #1 in my prospect rankings, and if the former 28th overall pick carries his recent success over into camp, look for him to win a spot in the lineup.

He will potentially knock off Victor Olofsson, who would move into a role as an extra skater. Or, if as mentioned above, the Buffalo Sabres trade the winger, there will be another spot open, and that could go to one of the remaining four players on the list.

2 – Lukas Rousek

Of the five players listed, Lukas Rousek was the only one to see NHL action this season when he appeared and played well in two games. His hustle and ability to give himself scoring chances will work in his favor as he competes for a spot.

The only downside is, if the Blue and Gold re-sign Zemgus Girgensons and extend a qualifying offer to Tyson Jost, the likelihood of Rousek attaining adequate playing time as he makes the jump will decrease, as he would likely rotate with the newly re-signed Kyle Okposo, Girgensons, and potentially Jost in such a situation, unless he beats out Kulich or perhaps Matt Savoie for the spot a potentially departing Olofsson will open.

The upside? Rousek gives the Sabres more than adequate depth.

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