Rookie sensation tops Tier III in the Sabres Top 24 and under rankings

The Buffalo Sabres have a few dynamic players listed in Tier III of the Top 24 and under rankings, so which rookie sensation is pacing the field?
Buffalo Sabres v Vancouver Canucks
Buffalo Sabres v Vancouver Canucks / Derek Cain/GettyImages
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Wow, we’re over halfway through these Top 24 Sabres Aged 24 and Under rankings, and so far, it’s been fun to see where each of the team’s youngest players and prospects currently sit before the eventful offseason begins. 

But things get far more interesting as we dive into Tier III of the rankings, which contains two full-time NHLers and a pair of prospects hoping 2024-25 will be their year to join the big club - or if general manager Kevyn Adams makes blockbuster roster transactions, another big club. 

The first player on this list may be a bit of a shocker, as he was viewed as a top-tier up-and-comer last season before a rough year awaited him in 2023-24. The next two could be the most exciting forward prospects currently in Rochester, and as the headline in this article implied, a rookie sensation takes ninth place. 

12: Mattias Samuelsson, D/Sabres

If Mattias Samuelsson stayed healthy and enjoyed the same impact he had in 2022-23, he’d be in Tier I. Unfortunately, had we made a list like this last season, nobody would have dropped more than Samuelsson in these rankings. 

Yeah, when he’s healthy, he helps the Sabres win games. Or at least that was the case in 2022-23, as last season was a different story. When Samuelsson played, the Sabres finished 15-23-3, good for just 33 points and a pace of 66 points when adjusted to 82 matchups. 

Samuelsson, known for crushing plays, big hits, and denying shots, still put up excellent basic statistics - 87 blocks and 106 hits, and he was also on the ice for just 30 goals at even strength, or 0.731 per game and a significant improvement from 0.927 per game last year. That said, the numbers say he improved, especially when you add that he was in the game for almost one goal fewer than expected.

But he’s so injury-prone we need to ask ourselves whether he will be a decent long-term asset heading into the summer of 2024. As one of the players who signed a long-term deal about a year-and-a-half ago, Kevyn Adams and the Sabres organization will be hoping Samuelsson can finally play a full season.