3 – Viktor Neuchev, F
One of two skaters from Russia who is debuting for the Buffalo Sabres AHL affiliate this season, Viktor Neuchev will spend much of this year getting used to the North American game. Unlike Johnson and Ratzlaff, Neuchev knows what it’s like to play against top-notch professional hockey players thanks to his stint in the KHL.
Now the burning question is: Can he use that experience to quickly adjust to the AHL? His performance in the Prospects Challenge could give us some foresight, but if he enjoys a couple of good games, look for his name to pop up more than a few times in Rochester this year.
4 – Nikita Novikov, D
One of my favorite overseas prospects in the system this past season, Nikita Novikov has over 100 games of KHL experience when you count the playoffs. Given his towering build and physical style, Novikov looks like a stay-at-home defenseman at first glance. But he showed us otherwise at times this past July, so don’t be surprised if he gives us some offense during the Challenge.
This will also be Novikov’s first real crack at showing us how close he is to being NHL-ready, and how quickly he can adjust to the North American style.