Sabres announce 2023 Prospects Challenge roster –

The Buffalo Sabres have unveiled their roster for the 2023 Prospects Challenge, which opens Sept. 15 with a tripleheader of games at LECOM Harborcenter.

Buffalo’s roster includes five first-round draft picks, 12 players who have signed entry-level NHL contracts with the Sabres, and seven who were part of the Rochester Americans team that made a run to the AHL’s Eastern Conference Finals last season.

Find a PDF version of the roster here.

Games will be streamed live on the Sabres’ YouTube channel. Find the full schedule here.

Here’s a line on each of the players who will be dressing for the Sabres this weekend.

Forwards (15)

9 Zach Benson, LW – The Sabres selected Benson with the 13th-overall pick in this year’s draft, describing him as a player who checked all the boxes in terms of his competitiveness, intelligence, and offensive playmaking. He put that package on display at development camp in July and more recently during exhibition games with his junior club, the Wenatchee Wild.

49 Filip Cederqvist, LW – The 6-foot-3 forward returns for his second pro campaign after tallying 20 points (9+11) in 55 games as a rookie with Rochester last season.

29 Riley Fiddler-Schultz, C – Fiddler-Schultz signed a two-year AHL contract with Rochester this summer after concluding a productive junior career with WHL Calgary, where he served as team captain and scored a career-high 75 points (31+44) last season.

60 Damien Giroux, C – Giroux joined the Amerks on a one-year AHL contract this summer. The 23-year-old has 48 points in three AHL seasons with the Iowa Wild and made his NHL debut for Minnesota in April.

52 Aleksandr Kisakov, LW – The Russian winger arrived in Rochester for his first North American season in 2022-23. He appeared in 48 games, part of a calculated plan by the Amerks coaching staff to dedicate time to his physical development.

48 Tyson Kozak, C – Kozak, a seventh-round pick by the Sabres in 2021, was a standout performer in last year’s Prospects Challenge and carried that momentum into a promising rookie season with Rochester. He had five points in 15 playoff games while serving as a reliable defensive presence.

20 Jiri Kulich, C – Kulich, one of three first-round picks by Buffalo in 2022, is coming off one of the most productive seasons by an 18-year-old in AHL history. He led Rochester with 24 goals during the regular season (17 of which came after the start of February) and added seven more in 12 playoff games.

86 Dominick Mersch, C – The brother of Rochester captain Michael Mersch completed a five-year career at the University of Wisconsin in the spring. He signed a one-year deal with Buffalo’s ECHL affiliate, the Jacksonville Icemen, in August.

95 Ethan Miedema, LW – The Sabres drafted Miedema during the fourth round this summer. The 6-foot-4 winger stands alongside defenseman Nikita Novikov as the tallest players on the Prospects Challenge roster.

54 Olivier Nadeau, RW – Nadeau, a skilled power forward, is expected to begin his pro career with Rochester this season after tallying 46 points (22+24) in 34 games with Gatineau of the QMJHL in 2022-23. He was a fourth-round pick by the Sabres in 2021.

79 Viktor Neuchev, LW – Neuchev is beginning his first North American season after signing his entry-level deal in May. He is already accustomed to playing against men, having spent last season playing in the KHL.

63 Isak Rosen, RW – Rosen, a first-round pick in 2021, was a rookie alongside Kulich in Rochester last season. He tallied 37 points (14+23) and played some of his best hockey during the Amerks’ playoff run.

93 Matt Savoie, C – The fourth first-round forward on this list, Savoie enjoyed a 95-point season in the WHL with Winnipeg – much of which was spent on a line with Benson. He would return to his WHL club (now located in Wenatchee) if he does not make the NHL roster out of training camp.

56 Lawson Sherk, C – Sherk, a non-roster invitee, had 28 points (13+15) in 65 games with Hamilton of the OHL last season.

67 Graham Slaggert, C – Slaggert signed a one-year contract with Rochester during the summer after spending last season with AHL Toronto, where he had 10 points (6+4) in 63 games.

Defensemen (8)

44 Chris Jandric, LHD – The 24-year-old signed a two-year AHL contract with Rochester in March after completing a five-year collegiate career at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks and the University of North Dakota. He was named to the NCHC’s First All-Star Team last season.

33 Ryan Johnson, LHD – Johnson, the fifth and final first-round pick on the list, made the decision to forego free agency and sign with the Sabres in May after completing his four-year collegiate career with the University of Minnesota. His plus-22 rating as a senior tied for 13th among NCAA defensemen.

76 Vsevolod Komarov, RHD – Komarov, a fifth-round pick in 2022, earned his entry-level deal in the spring after a strong season QMJHL Quebec that ended with a run to the Memorial Cup. Drafted primarily as a defensive defenseman, he added offense to his game with a 39-point campaign.

83 Mats Lindgren, LHD – Lindgren, a fourth-round pick in 2022, has been a standout at prospects camps with the Sabres for his puck-handling ability out of the back end. He had 34 points (11+23) in 63 games with WHL Red Deer last season.

73 Zach Metsa, RHD  Metsa appeared in 13 games for the Rochester Americans during the Calder Cup Playoffs after leading Quinnipiac to a National Championship as team captain.

91 Nikita Novikov, LHD – The 20-year-old is expected to spend his first North American season in Rochester after two years in the KHL. A physical presence at 6-foot-4, Novikov also put his offensive instincts on display during the 3-on-3 French Connection Tournament at development camp.

74 Norwin Panocha, LHD – The Sabres selected Panocha during the seventh-round this summer. The German native is set to spend his first North American season with Chicoutimi of the QMJHL.

45 Nicolas Savoie, LHD – Savoie signed a one-year AHL contract with Rochester after five QMJHL seasons with Quebec, where he was teammates with Komarov.

Goalies (2)

35 Josh Fleming, G – Fleming, a non-roster invitee, had a .903 save percentage in 40 games with Acadie-Bathurst of the QMJHL last season.

34 Scott Ratzlaff, G – The Sabres drafted Ratzlaff during the fifth round this summer. He is expected to assume the No. 1 role in WHL Seattle after posting a .918 save percentage in 34 games last season.

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