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
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22: Maxim Strbak, D/Michigan State

We didn’t see much of Maxim Strbak’s two-way game at Michigan State this season, but as a freshman, it wasn’t unexpected. Strbak did show off his ability to contribute in the World Juniors when he logged six assists and a goal for Slovakia in five games, so we know he will bring such play to the college ranks. 

The 19-year-old’s 6’2, 190-pound frame is already intriguing, and it also contributes to his strong defensive play. He’s not afraid to force opponents into second-guessing themselves, and he’s got a grittier style, something Scott Wheeler of The Athletic takes a deeper dive into. 

Strbak’s two-way ability will eventually translate to the North American game, as it was something we saw during his 2022-23 campaign with the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede when he scored five goals and contributed 13 assists in 45 regular season outings. 

Even in the event that Strbak’s points-producing play in the offensive zone doesn’t translate during his time at school, he’s still aggressive enough to play a rather physical game. He will only continue to grow throughout his college career, so Strbak should evolve into an imposing blueliner over the next few years. 

That fact alone should entice Sabres fans to keep tabs on him, and he will either join the Blue and Gold at some point - likely in 2027 or 2028 - or he will become a good asset to package into a trade.