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Sabres No. 1, Canucks the top Canadian team in Core 4 NHL team ranking


The Buffalo Sabres’ recent past has been filled with darkness, but the future may be brighter.

Buffalo, which has missed the playoffs an NHL-record 12 straight seasons, is No. 1 in TSN’s annual U-24 ranking of players and organizational prospects.

“The Sabres have every position covered with young players,” says TSN Director of Scouting Craig Button. “The scouting department has done its job. Now it’s up to management to fit the pieces together.”

Defencemen Rasmus Dahlin and Owen Power, centre Dylan Cozens (aka The Workhorse From Whitehouse) and goalie Devon Levi headline Buffalo’s league-high 11 players labelled current or future impact NHLers.

The quality and quantity of Buffalo’s U-24 corps earns the Sabres top billing among the NHL’s 32 franchises.

Button and FloSports Senior NHL Draft and Prospects analyst Chris Peters assessed every team’s assets 23 or younger (as of season’s start) – evaluating current development and projecting future potential.

Players are graded AAA (superstar), AA (elite), A (starting goalie, top-pair defenceman, first-line forward), B (tandem goalie, top-four defenceman, top-six forward) or C (backup goalie, depth defenceman, bottom-six forward).

Dahlin and Power are AA blueliners, Cozens an A forward and Levi an A goalie.

Dahlin ranks fifth behind No. 1 Connor Bedard, No. 2 Quinn Hughes, No. 3 Jack Hughes and No. 4 Tim Stutzle in the overall individual rankings of players and prospects. Power is No. 9.

Buffalo enters the U.S. Thanksgiving weekend outside of a playoff position.

One consequence of the Sabres’ consistently bad regular-season finishes is high draft picks.

Dahlin (2018) and Power (2021) were No. 1 overall picks, while Cozens was a No. 7 pick (2019). Levi landed in Buffalo in the 2021 trade that sent Sam Reinhart to Florida.

Seven more Sabre assets are graded B players/prospects, including current Sabre forwards JJ Peterka, Jack Quinn and Zach Benson plus defenceman Mattias Samuelsson.

Benson, 18, scored his first NHL goal Wednesday on a spectacular between-the-legs shot against Washington.

As is our custom, the top four U-24 players in each organization are highlighted in the accompanying team-by-team breakdowns.

All AAA, AA, A and B players/prospects are included.

Buffalo is ranked ahead of No. 2 New Jersey by the slimmest of margins. The Devils’ Triple A superstar centre Jack Hughes and his Double A brother, left defenceman Luke, are supplemented by eight players in the B range.

No. 3 Anaheim joins Buffalo as the only teams with four A-level players: 18-year-old centre Leo Carlsson (AA), centre Mason McTavish (A), centre Trevor Zegras (A) and left defenceman Pavel Mintyukov (A).

No. 4 Chicago has 18-year-old AAA Bedard leading the way, along with 19-year-old left defenceman Kevin Korchinski (A) and 18-year-old centre Oliver Moore (A).

Vancouver is the top-ranked Canadian team, placing No. 5 largely on the shoulders of AAA left defenceman Quinn Hughes, who is off to a sensational start with 31 points in 20 games.

Tucked in behind Hughes on the Canucks’ U-24 list is 18-year-old right defenceman Tom Willander, selected 11th overall in the 2023 draft, and playing his freshman season with Boston University.

Next up among Canada’s seven teams is Ottawa at No. 7 overall. The Senators have two of the top 10 players in the TSN individual rankings with AAA centre Stutzle fourth and AA left defenceman Jake Sanderson seventh.

Sitting at No. 10 in the U-24 team rankings is Montreal, which has AA left winger Cole Caufield and eight B players, tied with New Jersey for most among the league’s 32 teams. Notably, 2022 No. 1 pick Juraj Slafkovsky is slotted as a B player, dropping from A status last year. 

Here is a look at the remaining Canadian teams:

No. 17 Calgary: Dustin Wolf (A) is one of only two goalies ranked first on team U-24 lists, joining Nashville’s Yaroslav Askarov. Right winger Matt Coronato gives Calgary a second A player – which ties the Flames with Ottawa and Vancouver for most among Canadian teams.

No. 19 Winnipeg: Left winger Cole Perfetti, who had a five-game goal streak this month, is the Jets’ lone A player. Winnipeg is flush with B players – six of them in all, including 19-year-old goalie Dom DiVincentiis.

No. 27 Toronto: Left winger Matthew Knies has joined Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner on the Leafs’ top line, in the process elevating from B status in 2022 to A in 2023. Centre Easton Cowan, 18, is the only B player.

No. 29 Edmonton: Right defenceman Evan Bouchard, who turned 24 on Oct. 24, earns an A, but not without some controversy surrounding his up-and-down play this season. The Oilers are the only team in the league without a single B-level player.

Defending Stanley Cup-champion Vegas finished last season as the NHL’s No. 1 team but finishes No. 32 in the 2023 U-24 ranking.

Vegas has had only one draft pick as high as 17th overall in the past six drafts. The Golden Knights have won eight playoff rounds during that time.


1. Buffalo Sabres (3)

Core 4 Plus More

Player Team Pos. Age Rank
1. Rasmus Dahlin Buffalo LD 23 AA
2. Owen Power Buffalo LD 20 AA
3. Dylan Cozens Buffalo C 22 A
4. Devon Levi Buffalo G 21 A
5. JJ Peterka Buffalo LW 21 B
6. Mattias Samuelsson Buffalo LD 23 B
7. Jack Quinn Buffalo RW 22 B
8. Jiri Kulich Rochester LW 19 B
9. Zach Benson Buffalo LW 18 B
10. Noah Ostlund Djurgarden C 19 B
11. Matt Savoie Rochester C 19 B


2. New Jersey Devils (6)

Core 4 Plus More

Player Team Pos. Age Rank
1. Jack Hughes New Jersey C 22 AAA
2. Luke Hughes  New Jersey LD 20 AA
3. Dawson Mercer New Jersey RW 22 B
4. Simon Nemec Utica (AHL) RD 19  B 
5. Alexander Holtz  New Jersey RW 21 B
6. Kevin Bahl New Jersey LD 23 B
7. Lenni Hameenaho Assat (SM Liiga) RW 19 B
8. Akira Schmid New Jersey G 23 B
9. Seamus Casey Michigan (NCAA) RD 19 B
10. Arseny Gritsyuk St. Petersburg (KHL) RW 22 B


3. Anaheim Ducks (8)

Core 4 Plus More

Player Team Pos. Age Rank
1. Leo Carlsson  Anaheim C 18 AA
2. Mason McTavish Anaheim C 20 A
3. Trevor Zegras Anaheim C 22 A
4. Pavel Mintyukov Anaheim LD 19 A
5. Lukas Dostal   San Diego (AHL) G 23 B
6. Jamie Drysdale Anaheim RD 21 B
7. Nathan Gaucher San Diego (AHL) C 20 B
8. Olen Zellweger San Diego (AHL) LD 19 B


4. Chicago Blackhawks (25) 

Core 4 Plus More

Player Team Pos. Age Rank
1. Connor Bedard Chicago C 18 AAA
2. Kevin Korchinski  Chicago LD 19 A
3. Oliver Moore Minnesota (NCAA) C 18 A
4. Lukas Reichel  Rockford (AHL) LW 21 B
5. Frank Nazar Michigan (NCAA) C 19 B
6. Wyatt Kaiser Chicago LD 21 B
7. Adam Gajan  Green Bay (USHL) G 19 B


5. Vancouver Canucks (9)

2023 Core 4 - Canucks

Core 4 Plus More

Player Team Pos. Age Rank
1. Quinn Hughes   Vancouver LD 24 AAA
2. Tom Willander Boston U (NCAA) RD 18 A
3. Jonathan Lekkerimaki Orebro (SHL) RW 19 B
4. Hunter Brzustewicz Kitchener (OHL) RD 18 B
5. Arturs Silovs Abbotsford (AHL) G 22 B
6. Aatu Raty Abbotsford (AHL) C 21 B


6. Detroit Red Wings (2)

Core 4 Plus More

Player Team Pos. Age Rank
1. Moritz Seider Detroit RD 22 AA
2. Lucas Raymond Detroit LW 21 A
3. Sebastian Cossa Grand Rapids (AHL) G 21 A
4. Simon Edvinsson Detroit LD 20 B
5. Axel Sandin-Pellikka Skelleftea  (SHL) RD 18 B
6. Marco Kasper  Grand Rapids (AHL) LW 19 B
7. Nate Danielson Brandon (WHL) C 19 B
8. Trey Augustine Michigan St. (NCAA) G 18 B


7. Ottawa Senators (5)

2023 Core 4 - Ottawa Senators

Core 4 Plus More

Player Team Pos. Age Rank
1. Tim Stützle Ottawa C 21 AAA
2. Jake Sanderson Ottawa LD 21 AA
3. Ridly Greig   Ottawa C 21
4. Shane Pinto Ottawa C 22 B
5. Mads Sogaard  Belleville (AHL) G 21 B
6. Leevi Merilainen  Belleville (AHL) G 21 B


8. Columbus Blue Jackets (13)

Core 4 Plus More

Player Team Pos. Age Rank
1. Adam Fantilli Columbus C 19 AA
2. David Jiricek Columbus RD 20 A
3. Kent Johnson Columbus LW 21 B
4. Kirill Marchenko Columbus RW 23 B
5. Jordan Dumais Halifax (QMJHL) RW 19 B
6. Denton Mateychuk Moose Jaw (WHL) LD 19 B
7. Gavin Brindley Michigan (NCAA) C/RW 19 B
8. Dmitri Voronkov Columbus LW 23 B
9. James Malatesta Cleveland (AHL) LW 20 B


9. Philadelphia Flyers (21)

Core 4 Plus More

Player Team Pos. Age Rank
1. Matvei Michkov Sochi (KHL) RW 18 AA
2. Cutter Gauthier Boston C (NCAA) LW 19 AA
3. Joel Farabee Philadelphia LW 23 B
4. Bobby Brink Philadelphia RW 22 B
5. Cam York Philadelphia LD 22 B
6. Tyson Foerster  Philadelphia RW 21 B
7. Carson Bjarnason Brandon (WHL) G 18 B
8. Oliver Bonk London (OHL) RD 18 B


10. Montreal Canadiens (4)

2023 Core 4 - Montreal Canadiens

Core 4 Plus More

Player Team Pos. Age Rank
1. Cole Caufield Montreal LW 22 AA
2. Kaiden Guhle Montreal LD 21 B
3. Juraj Slafkovsky Montreal LW 19 B
4. David Reinbacher Kloten (SUI) RD 19 B
5. Joshua Roy Laval (AHL) LW 20 B
6. Lane Hutson Boston U (NCAA) LD 18 B
7. Kirby Dach Montreal C/RW 22 B
8. Owen Beck Peterborough (OHL) C 19 B
9. Logan Mailloux Laval (AHL) RD 20 B


11. Arizona Coyotes (16)

Core 4 Plus More

Player Team Pos. Age Rank
1. Logan Cooley Arizona C 19 AA
2. Dmitry Simashev Yaroslavl (KHL) LD 18 A
3. Dylan Guenther Tucson (AHL) RW 20 B
4. Conor Geekie Wenatchee (WHL) C 19 B
5. Matias Maccelli Arizona LW 23 B
6. Maveric Lamoureux Drummondville (QMJHL) RD 19 B
7. Josh Doan Tucson (AHL) RW 21 B
8. Daniil But Yaroslavl (KHL) LW 18 B
9. Michael Hrabal UMass (NCAA) G 18 B


12. Minnesota Wild (12)

Core 4 Plus More

Player Team Pos. Age Rank
1. Matt Boldy Minnesota LW 22 A
2. Jesper Wallstedt Iowa (AHL) G 20 A
3. Brock Faber   Minnesota RD 21 A
4. Marco Rossi  Minnesota C 22 B
5. Liam Ohgren Farjestad (SHL) LW 19 B
6. Danila Yurov Magnitogorsk (KHL) RW 19 A
7. Carson Lambos Iowa (AHL) LD 20 B


13. Seattle Kraken (14)

Core 4 Plus More

Player Team Pos. Age Rank
1. Matty Beniers Seattle C 21 A
2. Jagger Firkus Moose Jaw (WHL) RW 19 A
3. Shane Wright Coachella (AHL) C 19 B
4. Eduard Sale Barrie (OHL) RW 18 A
5. Ryker Evans Coachella (AHL) LD 21 B
6. David Goyette Sudbury (OHL) C 19 B
7. Ryan Winterton Coachella (AHL) RW 20 B
8. Carson Rehkopf Kitchener (OHL) C 18 B
9. Niklas Kokko  Karpat (SM Liiga) G 19 B


14. Carolina Hurricanes (10)

Core 4 Plus More

Player Team Pos. Age Rank
1. Andrei Svechnikov Carolina RW 23 AA
2. Alexander Nikishin St. Petersburg (KHL) LD 22 A
3. Seth Jarvis Carolina RW 21 B
4. Bradley Nadeau Maine (NCAA) LW 18 B
5. Jackson Blake North Dakota (NCAA) RW 20 B
6. Ville Koivunen   Karpat (SM Liiga) C 20 B


15. Nashville Predators (18)

Core 4 Plus More

Player Team Pos. Age Rank
1. Yaroslav Askarov Milwaukee (AHL) G 21 A
2. Matthew Wood Connecticut (NCAA) RW 18 A
3. Joakim Kemell Milwaukee (AHL) RW 19 A
4. Luke Evangelista  Nashville RW 21 B
5. Fedor Svechkov Milwaukee (AHL) C 20 B
6. Tanner Molendyk Saskatoon (WHL) LD 18 B


16. San Jose Sharks (27)

Core Four Plus More

Player Team Pos. Age Rank
1. Will Smith Boston C. (NCAA) C 18 A
2. William Eklund  San Jose LW 21 A
3. Mattias Hävelid Linkoping (SHL) RD 19 B
4. Thomas Bordeleau San Jose (AHL) C 21 B
5. Filip Bystedt Linkoping (SHL) C 19 B
6. Quentin Musty Sudbury (OHL) LW 18 B
7. Kasper Halttunen London (OHL) RW 18 B
8. Shakir Mukhamadullin San Jose (AHL) LD 21 B


17. Calgary Flames (20)

2023 Core 4 - Calgary Flames

Core Four Plus More

Player Team Pos. Age Rank
1. Dustin Wolf Calgary (AHL) G 22 A
2. Matt Coronato Calgary (AHL) RW 21 A
3. Samuel Honzek   Vancouver (WHL) LW 19 B
4. Connor Zary  Calgary C/LW 22 B
5. Jakob Pelletier  Calgary LW 22 B
6. Jeremie Poirier Calgary (AHL) LD 21 B


18. New York Rangers (26)

Core 4 Plus More

Player Team Pos. Age Rank
1. K’Andre Miller NY Rangers LD 23 A
2. Gabriel Perreault Boston C. (NCAA) RW 18 B
3. Braden Schneider NY Rangers RD 22 B
4. Alexis Lafreniere NY Rangers LW 22 B
5. Brennan Othmann Peterborough (OHL) LW 20 B


19. Winnipeg Jets (23)

2023 Core 4 - Winnipeg Jets

Core 4 Plus More

Player Team Pos. Age Rank
1. Cole Perfetti Winnipeg LW 21 A
2. Colby Barlow Owen Sound (OHL) LW 18 B
3. Rutger McGroarty Michigan (NCAA) LW 19 B
4. Brad Lambert Manitoba (AHL) C 19 B
5. Nikita Chibrikov Manitoba (AHL) RW 20 B
6. Chaz Lucius Manitoba (AHL) C 20 B
7. Domenic DiVincentiis North Bay (NHL) G 19 B


20. St. Louis Blues (11)

Core 4 Plus More

Player Team Pos. Age Rank
1. Jimmy Snuggerud Minnesota (NCAA) RW 19 A
2. Dalibor Dvorsky Sudbury (OHL) C 18 B
3. Joel Hofer  St. Louis G 23 B
4. Zack Bolduc Springfield (AHL) C 20 B
5. Otto Stenberg Frolunda (SHL) C 18 B
6. Theo Lindstein Brynas (SWE2) LD 18 B


21. Los Angeles Kings (17)

Core 4

Player Team Pos. Age Rank
1. Brandt Clarke Ontario (AHL) RD 20 A
2. Quinton Byfield  Los Angeles RW 21 A
3. Arthur Kaliyev Los Angeles RW 22 B
4. Tobias Bjornfot  Los Angeles LD 22 C


22. Dallas Stars (1)

Core 4

Player Team Pos. Age Rank
1. Wyatt Johnston Dallas RW 20 A
2. Thomas Harley  Dallas LD 22 B
3. Logan Stankoven Texas (AHL) C 20 B
4. Lian Bichsel Texas (AHL) LD 19 B


23. Colorado Avalanche (7)

Core 4

Player Team Pos. Age Rank
1. Bowen Byram Colorado LD 22 A
2. Calum Ritchie Oshawa (OHL) C 18 B
3. Mikhail Gulyayev  Omsk (KHL) LD 18 B
4. Justus Annunen Colorado (AHL) G 23 C


24. Washington Capitals (24)

Core 4

Player Team Pos. Age Rank
1. Ryan Leonard Boston C. (NCAA) RW 18 A
2. Ivan Miroshnichenko Hershey (AHL) LW 19 B
3. Martin Fehervary  Washington LD 24 B
4. Andrew Cristall Kelowna (WHL) RW 18 B


25. Florida Panthers (19)

Core 4

Player Team Pos. Age Rank
1. Anton Lundell Florida C 22 B
2. Spencer Knight Charlotte (AHL) G 22 A
3. Mackie Samoskevich Charlotte (AHL) RW 21 B
4. Kirill Gerasimyuk  St. Petersburg (KHL) G 20 B


26. New York Islanders (20)

Core 4

Player Team Pos. Age Rank
1. Noah Dobson NY Islanders RD 23 AA
2. Simon Holmstrom NY Islanders RW 22 C
3. Alexander Romanov NY Islanders LD 23 C
4. William Dufour Bridgeport (AHL) RW 21 C


27. Toronto Maple Leafs (22)

2023 Core 4 - Toronto Maple Leafs

Core 4

Player Team Pos. Age Rank
1. Matthew Knies Toronto LW 21 A
2. Easton Cowan London (OHL) C 18 B
3. Fraser Minten Kamloops (WHL) 19 C
4. Nick Robertson Toronto LW 22 C


28. Boston Bruins (29)

Core 4

Player Team Pos. Age Rank
1. Matt Poitras Boston C 19 A
2. Mason Lohrei Boston LD 22 B
3. John Beecher  Boston C 22 C
4. Fabian Lysell Providence (AHL) RW 20 C


29. Edmonton Oilers (22)

2023 Core 4 - Edmonton Oilers

Core 4

Player Team Pos. Age Rank
1. Evan Bouchard  Edmonton RD 24 A
2. Dylan Holloway Edmonton LW 22 C
3. Philip Broberg Edmonton LD 22 C
4. Xavier Bourgault Bakersfield (AHL) RW 21 C


30. Pittsburgh Penguins (31)

Core 4

Player Team Pos. Age Rank
1. Brayden Yager Moose Jaw (WHL) C 18 B
2. Owen Pickering Swift Current (WHL) LD 19 B
3. Joel Blomqvist Wilkes-Barre (AHL) G 21 B
4. Zam Plante Fargo (USHL) C 19 C


31. Tampa Bay Lightning (32)

Core 4

Player Team Pos. Age Rank
1. Ethan Gauthier Drummondville (QMJHL) RW 18 B
2. Isaac Howard Michigan St. (NCAA) LW 19 B
3. Jack Thompson Syracuse (AHL) RD 21 C
4. Gage Goncalves Syracuse (AHL) C 22 C


32. Vegas Golden Knights (30)

Core 4

Player Team Pos. Age Rank
1. David Edstrom Frolunda (SHL) C 18 B
2. Brendan Brisson   Henderson (AHL) C 22 C
3. Matyas Sapovaliv Saginaw (OHL) C 19 C
4. Mathieu Cataford Halifax (QMJHL) RW 18 C