Former Buffalo Sabres first-round picks selected as captains at World Juniors

The Buffalo Sabres have a pair of prospects who received special honors for their respective national teams prior to the World Juniors.
Buffalo Sabres v New York Rangers
Buffalo Sabres v New York Rangers / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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Buffalo Sabres prospects Matt Savoie, Noah Ostlund, and Jiri Kulich have been quite the journeymen, as is the case for many high-end prospects. Savoie and Kulich both saw brief action in the NHL, but they also made their respective marks in the AHL. 

While the league’s agreement with the CHL prohibited Savoie from playing a whole year in Rochester, he still snagged five points and two goals from his six-game trial. Since he returned to the WHL’s Wenatchee Wild, Savoie also accumulated 24 points in 11 contests, so it’s therefore no surprise that Team Canada selected him to be one of their captains for the 2024 IIHF World Juniors.

Likewise, Kulich has also been chosen as a captain for Team Czechia, and his evolution this season has pretty much made him a shoo-in to jump to the NHL level permanently, perhaps starting in 2024-25. The 19-year-old Kulich has 22 points and 16 goals in 23 games with the Rochester Americans, and he is currently locked in a three-way tie for the AHL lead in goals scored alongside Adam Gaudette and Peter Dube. Noah Ostlund, who has been playing in the SHL, was also selected as a captain for Team Sweden.

Buffalo Sabres prospects chosen to help lead Team Canada, Sweden, and Czechia

Kulich, Ostlund, and Savoie are just three of a few Sabres prospects who have received the honor of representing their respective national teams, with Scott Ratzlaff (Canada), Maxim Strbak (Slovakia), and Norwin Panocha (Germany), and Anton Wahlberg (Sweden) also vying for an IIHF World Juniors Championship. 

We won’t need to wait long before the puck drops for the IIHF Worlds, as Slovakia kicks things off against Czechia tomorrow, and Canada will faceoff against Finland. Sweden will also play Latvia late tomorrow night, so we will see plenty of Buffalo Sabres prospects in action.

Will Savoie, Ostlund, or Kulich lead their respective teams to the championship, or will Strbak and Panocha have something to say about that? It should be yet another exciting World Juniors featuring some of the best in the Blue and Gold’s prospects pool.

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(Statistics provided by QuantHockey and Elite Prospects)