Dynamic WHL blueliner leads the Top 24-and-under Sabres players and prospects Tier VI

The 2024 NHL Draft is fast approaching, so it’s time to rank the best Buffalo Sabres players and prospects aged 24 and under.
2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Round 2-7
2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Round 2-7 / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
3 of 5

23: Scott Ratzlaff, G/Seattle Thunderbirds

Scott Ratzlaff found himself in a timeshare during his first two seasons with the Seattle Thunderbirds, seeing time in the crease for 22 contests and posting a respectable 0.904 save percentage, a shutout, a 2.48 GAA, and a 17-2-0 record in 2021-22.

We saw more dominance in 2022-23, with Ratzlaff appearing in 34 outings and recording five shutouts, a 2.15 GAA, a 0.918 save percentage, and 25 wins. It was a remarkable increase in productivity from Year 1 to Year 2, but the Thunderbirds were also one of the best, if not the best, teams in the WHL, winning the Ed Chynoweth Cup in 2023, just one year after losing in the Final to the Edmonton Oil Kings. 

So Ratzlaff played well, but the test wouldn’t come until this season when the Thunderbirds clearly weren’t the same team. This caused Ratzlaff, who played in 52 games, to see his numbers fall. He posted a 3.33 GAA, a 0.905 save percentage, one shutout, and just 21 wins. 

But when you consider that the Thunderbirds went from first to nearly the worst in the WHL, it sheds some light. They were one of just two teams - the other being the Kamloops Blazers - to score under 200 goals. With 260 goals allowed, they also had a tough time stopping opponents in their own zone. 

With what was in front of him, Ratzlaff still managed a respectable 2023-24 outing, and it should set the stage for a much better 2024-25 season, even if he faces the same challenges.