Perhaps more than any other prospect in hockey, Buffalo Sabres’ first-rounder Jack Quinn’s stock skyrocketed over the course of this 2021-22 season, and that is in large part due to his performance in the AHL. As a result, the coaches, players and members of the media in the AHL have selected Quinn as the 2021-22 AHL Rookie of the Year. This news comes as another note of optimism to conclude an exciting Sabres season, a campaign that has shown Sabres fans a light at the end of the team’s 11-year playoff-less tunnel. Quinn joins some prestigious company as a Dudley (Red) Garrett Memorial winner, with many future stars such as Brett Hull and Mikko Rantanen having taken home the award in the past.
Quinn, 20, was selected 8th overall in 2020, and was a member of the star-studded Ottawa 67’s team that tore the OHL apart before the pandemic ended their 2019-20 season. Before this year, Quinn had played 15 AHL games with the Sabres’ affiliate, the Rochester Americans, but he maintained his rookie eligibility status. He followed up that impressive 15-game trial run (where he posted 9 points) with this year’s campaign, a season where he scored at a blistering pace. He had 25 goals and 59 points in only 44 games, good for second on the Americans, despite getting into fewer games than many of his teammates. As an 8th overall pick, is was always known that Quinn had the potential to be a dangerous top-six scorer, but after such a successful campaign it’s clear there is even more upside in his game than there may have initially seemed to be.
For the Sabres, this award will only bolster the optimism of a market eagerly awaiting their team’s return to relevance. The Sabres have amassed an enviable stable of young talent, led by a quartet of top draft picks in Rasmus Dahlin, Owen Power, Dylan Cozens, and Quinn, and with those four in tow, they should be a competitive team next season. It seems Sabres fans agree, as over 93% of Sabres fans polled by The Athletic’s John Vogl (subscription link) believe the Sabres will return to the playoffs within the next two seasons. With the rise of Quinn cemented by this award, that number can only go up.