I don’t think the Sabres will be in the conversation with those other teams for 2-3 years tbh. I think this is the year New Jersey and LA take a step forward and push for the playoffs, and next year the Sens will join them. Ducks are weird because their D is old af and I don’t like any of their D prospects that much (apart from Drysdale who’s clearly a future #1). They should trade Lindholm and Manson, but if they get picks rather than 20-22yo prospects then it sets their rebuild back a year or two because they’ll just be in the position Ottawa is right now (very nice young forwards, no defense at all), except without a pipeline of guys like Sanderson/JBD/Brannstrom/Thomson (Drysdale is better than at least 3 of those guys, I’d say 4, you could argue Sanderson’s better but even though I’m a Sens fan I disagree, but then Anaheim’s next best D prospects are Zellweger and Lacombe, and I’d take Thomson over both of them). So basically what Anaheim needs to do is trade for D prospects, rather than picks, to join Ottawa in being a fringe playoff team next year (i.e. trade guys like Manson/Lindholm/Rakell to EDM for Broberg, or NYR for Jones, or NYI for Salo, or something like that rather than just 1sts or 2nds). Sabres need to revamp their forwards hard. They have Cozens (who I like as a future top six C, potentially 1C), Mittelstadt (who I’m not a huge fan of, maybe a 3C when they’re good), Quinn/Peterka, who will fill two top 9 RW spots, and Rosen who will likely be a middle six LW. There’s 4 other top 9 spots available, including at least one top line winger and another top six centre, that they need to bring into the fold. Trading Eichel would make this a lot easier, but they won’t have Power full time until next year, and I’d give him at least a year before expecting anything, and two drafts (especially the next two) with poor finishes will set Buffalo up nicely. I do like Dahlin/Jokiharju/Power/Samuelsson as ¾ of the top 4 and the 3LD (presumably) long term, and UPL/Levi are solid goalie prospects so there isn’t much work to do there imo, could use another RD but they can trade for one, or that can be a veteran, or use a 2nd to draft a guy for that. So I’d rank the young teams like:
1. LAK (legitimate wild card potential this year)
2. NJD (fringe wild card potential this year, but unlikely in a tough division)
3. OTT (legitimate wild card potential next year)
4. ANA (legitimate wild card potential in 2 years unless they accelerate by trading for prospects over picks)
5. BUF (legitimate wild card potential in 2-3 years depending on the Eichel haul and how Power does as a rookie)
ARI is like 4-6 years away lol and MTL/NYR have so many veterans I’m not sure if they count as young teams.
IMK the sabres team has a lot of their pieces in tact.
U got Ollofson, Rosen, Quinn, Peterka, Skinner, as top 6 wings.
Cozens is a top 6 center could be a 1C but probably a good 1C Great 2C. I think Cozens is a 2 way center, more like Barkov ish than say Matthews or McDavid. Mittelstadt I think is going to surprise this year a be a good 2C, and Tage Thompson has been a surprise this year who could also become a top 6 center has all the intangibles but needs to reach it. We have Asplund and Routsalainen to round out the bottom 6 center core, they are perfect 2 way scoring threat and great at defense. Have a lot of other wing prospects that could make the jump though if we get lucky, Weissbach, Kisakov, Poltapov, ... For defense Dahlins a bonafide number 1 probable top 5/3 dman in a couple years, u got Jokiharju on his right side who's severely underrated. Him and Makar are the only 22 year old dmen not on ELC. Power is legit, Ryan Johnson seems ok, Sammuellson seems to be a bottom 6 dman. Sabres lack RD so hopefully we can trade Eichel for some RD talent if possible. Goalie we got UPL and Levi, Portillo if he makes a jump.