The Starting Six series comes to you to dive into the best player at each position all-time for every organization. The biggest and best at each position, with the most memorable moments in franchise history. Here is the Buffalo Sabres all-time lineup.
Starting Six: Buffalo Sabres All-Time Lineup
Since joining the NHL in 1970, the Buffalo Sabres have been a franchise with a deep history. The franchise has never won a Stanley Cup, but had two finals appearances, the last one being in 1999. Remember the controversy of Brett Hull‘s foot in the crease? The city of Buffalo does. Although the team hasn’t had success lately, missing the playoffs six seasons in a row, they have a history of regular season success. They have made the playoffs 29 times in their 46 seasons. In their pursuit of Lord Stanley, the Buffalo Sabres have had years of star studded rosters. But who are the players making up the Buffalo Sabres all-time Lineup?
Although many players have come and gone and had great seasons in Buffalo, this list takes into account the greatest players achievements while in Buffalo. So guys like Tim Horton, who was an incredible defensemen but achieved most of his success in Toronto, won’t be considered. The list has been split into positions to create the best line in Buffalo Sabres franchise history.
Center: Gilbert Perreault (1970-87)
Let’s start with the best right off the top; Gilbert Perreault. He is the pinnacle of the Sabres All-Time Lineup. In his rookie season, Perreault had 72 points in 78 games helping him claim the Calder Trophy for rookie of the year. Then in 1972, the French Connection line was born. With the addition of his junior teammate Richard Martin, and Rene Robert, the Sabres had one of the most explosive lines in all of hockey history, let alone Buffalo’s history. This line carried the team to it’s first ever playoff appearance, even though they were bounced in the first round. Perreault was also awarded the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy that year. Two trophies in his first three NHL seasons is quite impressive, although they would ultimately be his only awards.
The Sabres would make it to the playoffs eleven consecutive years with Perreault from 1974-1985. Over a decade of playoff hockey, talk about consistency. This included a Stanley Cup Finals appearance in 1975 where they lost to the Philadelphia Flyers in six games.
After spending his entire 17 years as a Buffalo Sabre, Perreault still reigns as the top player in numerous stat categories. He is number one in games played (1,191), goals (512), assists (814), and points (1,326). No current player on the roster is even close to reaching his numbers, and it is quite possible that he might never be passed in those franchise records. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1990.
Left Wing: Dave Andreychuk (1982-93, 2000-01)
Hockey fans most recent memories of Dave Andreychuk are probably of him leading the Tampa Bay Lightning to a Stanley Cup victory in 2004. But Andreychuk was a massive part of the Buffalo Sabres franchise in his early days. In fact, 12 years of his 23-season career were spent as a Sabre.
Andreychuk was one of three first round draft picks selected by the Sabres in the 1982 draft. He was the 16th overall pick and well worth it. In his rookie season he nearly had a point-per-game pace with 37 points in 43 games. The Hamilton, Ontario native had his best years in Buffalo. Each season in Buffalo from 1982-1993 he was right around the point-per-game mark. His best full season for the team was 1991-1992, he was well over a point-per-game scoring 41 goals and tallying 50 assists for a total of 91 points in 80 games. He may have had an even better season the following year if he hadn’t got traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs midway through the season. That season he was only one point shy of 100, his greatest point total of his career.
The Sabres enjoyed limited success in Andreychuk’s time there. With the core of high octane offensive players such as Alexander Mogilny, Pat LaFontaine, and Dale Hawerchuk, the team was able to make the playoffs consistently. However, they never made it too far, the furthest the Sabres ever went with Andreychuk was the second round, and that was in his rookie season.
In terms of stats, he is right behind Perrault as a member of the Sabres All-Time Lineup. He is second all time in assists (436) and points (804), and also third in goals scored (368). He was elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2017. Perhaps his most impressive stat is he holds the record for most power plays goals ever scored with 274, 161 of those with the Sabres.
Right Wing: Jason Pominville
The only current Sabre on the All-Time Lineup, Jason Pominville also had his best years in Buffalo. The Repentigny, Quebec native was drafted by the Sabres in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, in the second round, 55th overall. He wasn’t a regular NHL player until 2005 where he had 30 points in 57 games. After that season he really defined himself as a reliable offensive threat. In just his second season he scored his career high in goals with 34 and added 34 assists as well. In his first two years in the league, he experienced deep playoff runs, going to the Eastern Conference Finals both years. Pominville played 82 games in four consecutive seasons from 2006-2010, scoring more than 20 goals and 60 points in each of those seasons.
In 2011 he was named as the 16th captain in franchise history. He would go on to lead by example that season, finishing with the most points on the team with 73. In 2013 the team would start moving in a different direction, trying to rebuild some young talent and traded Pominville to the Minnesota Wild for a first round pick, second round pick, and highly-touted goalie prospect Matt Hackett highlighting the return.
After five seasons with the Wild, the Sabres reacquired Pominville in 2017, along with Marco Scandella and a fourth round pick in exchange for Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno, and a third round pick. Pominville now has a chance to mentor the young Sabres team who have missed the playoffs each season since 2011. He also has the chance to move up into the all time franchise records list as well. He is ninth all time in assists with 271, only four behind the Sabres great Dale Hawerchuk.
Defenseman: Mike Ramsey (1979-1993)
Mike Ramsey was a long time Buffalo Sabres defensemen, playing 911 games for the franchise. Only Perrault and Craig Ramsay (1,070) played more games in the blue and yellow. The Minneapolis, Minnesota native was selected 11th overall in the 1979 NHL Entry Draft. He registered seven points in 13 games his rookie season in 1979. Ramsey was a well-rounded defensemen and tough to score on when on the ice.
He was a part of a core that managed to make it to the postseason 13 out of 15 years, only missing the playoffs from 1985-1987. Ramsey was with the Sabres from 1979-1993 until he was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins. He retired with the Detroit Red Wings in 1997. Of all Sabres defensemen, only Phil Housley (558) amassed more points than Ramsey’s 329.
Defenseman: Phil Housley (1982-90)
Phil Housley was selected sixth overall in the first round of the 1982 NHL Entry Draft by the Buffalo Sabres. He was known for being an offensive defensemen and would live up to his profiling. In his very first season he amassed 66 points in 77 games. Housley was a pillar of consistency on the Sabres blue line, in fact his lowest point total with the team was 62 points in 1985-86. The Sabres enjoyed great years with Housley racking up points. Through his eight years in Buffalo they only missed the playoffs twice.
In the 1989-1990 season, Housley was scoring at a point-per-game pace. 81 points in 80 games was an impressive total for the blue liner. That would be his last season in Buffalo though. He was traded to the Winnipeg Jets in a trade that included multiple players and draft picks, most notably Dale Hawerchuck, the key piece returning to the Sabres. His scoring touch would continue in Winnipeg, and he was only three points shy of 100 in the 1992-1993 season. He would become a bit of a journeyman after that and retired in the 2004 season after spending time with seven other teams.
Housley’s ability to score was incredible. He is third on the all-time American NHL points total list, behind only prolific scoring forwards Brett Hull and Mike Modano. He also sits fourth on the top points by NHL defensemen of all time. His eight seasons as a Buffalo Sabre were the most he spent with one team, and his amazing point totals easily make him the greatest Buffalo defensemen and a shining star of the Buffalo Sabres All-Time Lineup.
Goalie: Dominik Hasek (1992-2001)
The Dominator. There never will be another goalie like him. He may be the most famous and awarded of the Sabres All-Time Lineup. Known for his unique “flopping” style, Dominik Hasek was unlike any goalie the hockey world had ever seen.
No shot was a sure goal with him in net. Hasek’s body knew no limits when it came to making a save. Sprawling along the ice, doing full spins, kicking his legs around, dropping his stick to pick the puck up with his blocker, nothing was off limits to this Czech-born goalie. Many were baffled by his style, calling him unorthodox and “lucky”. You don’t go on to have such a storied career with the amount of success Hasek enjoyed based on luck alone. Hasek was a master of his craft.
The Chicago Blackhawks scooped up Hasek in the tenth round, 199th overall in the 1983 NHL Entry Draft. He displayed his skill in the 1992 Finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Buffalo Sabres traded for him after that, little did they know the impact it would have on their franchise.
His first season was not a success though. In 28 games he only won 11 and had a goals-against-average of over three and a save percentage under .900. Then something clicked. In the rest of his nine seasons with the Sabres, he would never have a goals-against-average over 3.00 or save percentage under .900 again. The team would only miss the playoffs once with Hasek between the pipes.
The amount of hardware he would collect as a Sabre probably needs a separate room in his house. Two William M. Jennings awards, two Hart Trophies, two Lester B. Pearson Trophies, and most importantly, six Vezina Trophies. Six times he was voted as the best goalie in the entire league. He won back-to-back Vezina’s, twice. He is tied for second most Vezina’s, only one behind Jaques Plante. Hasek truly was a dominant force. Well deserving of the nickname “The Dominator”.