Two future NHLers dominate Tier IV of the Sabres Top 24 and under player and prospect rankings

You know the Sabres dynamic prospects pool shines when there are two forwards who have already seen NHL ice taking a middle-of-the-pack ranking.
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We have now entered the part of the show where Tier IV has some full-time NHLers involved. One reason you won’t see those playing at the NHL level exclusively ranked over AHLers and junior hockey players in the Sabres system stems from the fact that they either lack upside or they won’t be much more than rotational pieces in the near future. 

Meanwhile, a few prospects will take the Sabres further than some playing with the big club, whether that involves more valuable play when they reach the NHL level or if they simply hold more trade value, something that will also go a long way if general manager Kevyn Adams wants to excite the long-suffering fans in Western New York. 

So, which players currently seeing time at the NHL level find themselves behind more than a few intriguing prospects, and what does their future look like in a blue and gold uniform? 

16: Henri Jokiharju, D/Sabres

Henri Jokiharju is a pending restricted free agent, and considering his June birthday, he will not be on this list in the fall. But in early May, he fit the “Top 24 and Under” criteria, so it makes sense to rank him for now. That said, he didn’t get a high ranking, and he is the first full-time Sabre to be mentioned. 

Why Jokiharju is so low is that there is little reason to believe he will be part of the top-six in the defensive rotation, even if he gets a qualifying offer and returns. Rasmus Dahlin, Mattias Samuelsson, Owen Power, Bowen Byram, Connor Clifton, and Ryan Johnson should all move past him to start the 2024-25 season, leaving Jokiharju as an extra in a best-case scenario. 

Jokiharju was also a healthy scratch a few times this season, further implying he is, at best, a seventh blueliner for the Sabres moving into October 2024. Or, if he becomes a free agent, he will play a similar role for most NHL teams. The only way Jokiharju finds himself in a bottom-pairing role is if injuries strike whomever he’s playing for, and that would be nothing more than a temporary fix. 

If the Sabres brought him back, it wouldn’t be a bad thing as he provides excellent insurance, but he’s less than a role player at this point.