Buffalo Sabres 2019 NHL Draft Rankings: June Edition

ST LOUIS, MISSOURI - JUNE 03: National Hockey League prospect Jack Hughes speaks with the media at Enterprise Center on June 03, 2019 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MISSOURI - JUNE 03: National Hockey League prospect Jack Hughes speaks with the media at Enterprise Center on June 03, 2019 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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Arthur Kaliyev
Arthur Kaliyev #34 of the Hamilton Bulldogs skates against the Peterborough Petes in an OHL game at the Peterborough Memorial Centre. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

Like Broberg, Kaliyev was also garnering top 10 consideration, but instead, it was because of his strong finish to the year.

A stronger showing in the postseason would’ve likely helped the American winger with his draft stock, but Caufield has jumped him as the best pure scorer in this draft.

"“The owner of one of the draft’s best shots put up ridiculous numbers on a thinned-out Hamilton squad. Kaliyev, who was top-10 in OHL in goals (51) and points (102), is borderline perfect from the circles inward but needs to increase the intensity.” – Steve Kournianos, Sporting News"

Kaliyev has the size and shooting ability to be a weapon on any team. He’ll be off the board quickly, especially if an organization is desperately in need of someone who can fill nets. He’s also improving as a distributor with every given year, so keep an eye on that as he develops.

Our last defender to feature in the top 20, Heinola is another late riser who has impressed all season long.

It started with a sturdy Hlinka Gretzky Cup, and his play just continued to snowball from there. Heinola had the chance to play in the Finnish top tier with Lukko, who had made the playoffs in eight of the past nine seasons prior to this year.

They made it nine of 10 years with a postseason appearance with a 31-21-8 record. Lukko even managed to win a series, but they were bounced by Växjö in the second round.

Heinola made 34 appearances with Lukko this season as a teenager. He put up 14 points on the year and added four points in seven games in the playoffs.

"“A strong and agile skater, he could stand to improve his first step and get a bit quicker. Still, his mobility, combined with the vision to effectively start the transition game and create opportunities for his teammates” – Hannah Stuart, theScore"

He also featured in both the World Juniors and the U-18 Worlds this season. He put up just under a point per game against competition that was the same age and proved he could handle games against the best U-20 players in the world as well.

Heinola has the potential to become a first-pairing defenceman in the NHL. If he doesn’t get there, he’ll be a reliable top-four option on the back end.

It’s rare that you ever see a goaltender ranked this high. However, Knight has proven over the past year that he’s different from most prospects at his position.

He finished the year with a 2.21 goals-against average and a .903 save percentage against USHL competition this year, but at the U-18 World Championships, he had a 1.51 GAA and a .936 SV% in six appearances.

"“A goalie prospect good enough to be selected by a team in the first round — and not just necessarily by one that has multiple first round picks.” – Sam Cosentino, Sportsnet"

There are some teams in the first round that need goaltending help. Knight has been projected by some to go as high as the lottery. We’ll have to wait and see if he can crack that, but it sure looks like he’ll be the highest tender drafted since Jack Campbell in 2011.

The big knock on Lavoie throughout the year was his lack of consistent effort. Scouts just weren’t sure what player was going to show up on any given night.

He cleaned that up to end the year and went on a tear in the QMJHL playoffs, scoring 20 goals and 32 points in 30 games. He followed that up with a pair of goals and an assist in four contests at the Memorial Cup.

"“The Rodney Dangerfield of this year’s draft, Lavoie doesn’t seem to be getting the respect he deserves. He can play a power game but also has excellent speed for his size and can wire a heavy shot.” – Steve Kournianos, Sporting News"

He’s got one of the highest ceilings of any player outside the lottery. A team picking in this position could get a steal that can be slotted either down the middle or on the wing.

NHL Draft
Ryan Suzuki #61 of the Barrie Colts skates with the puck during the second period of an OHL game against the Niagara IceDogs at Meridian Centre. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

The younger brother of Canadiens prospect Nick, Suzuki was the first overall pick of the Barrie Colts in the 2017 OHL Priority Selection.

After playing behind 2018 second overall pick Andrei Svechnikov last season, the reigns were handed over to Suzuki, who proceeded to lead to Colts in scoring this season with 75 points in 65 games.

"“Consistency issues have dropped Suzuki on a lot of boards, but there’s little denying his talent with the puck on his stick. He has high-end vision and puck skills that make him difficult to defend, but there are legitimate concerns that he stays on the perimeter too much.” – Chris Peters, ESPN"

Suzuki has legitimate top-six potential and just needs some more time to grow into the top centre prospect that he is.