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No go for Breault

Written By Kris Baker on Saturday, May 31, 2008 | 5/31/2008

The Buffalo Sabres have informed 2006 7th round pick Benjamin Breault, 20, that he is not in their future plans. Without an offer from Buffalo, the Pembroke, Ontario native will likely return to the QMJHL next season where he has has scored 106 goals over the past three seasons with Baie-Comeau. Chosen 207th overall two years ago, the 5'11 center will re-enter the draft three weeks from now.
5/31/2008 | 3 comments | Read More

Sabres sign Enroth

Per the Sabres website, Jhonas Enroth has been signed to a three-year deal.
“We’re very happy to have Jhonas under contract,” said Regier. “He’s performed very well in Europe, and we look forward to his continued development as a member of our organization.” Enroth (6/25/1988, 5’10”, 175 lbs.) spent last season with Sodertalje SK of the Swedish Elite League, and led all goaltenders with a 2.13 GAA in 27 games. A finalist for the league’s Rookie of the Year award, Enroth finished the year with a record of 10-14-3, along with two shutouts and a .932 save percentage.
Per Enroth's wishes, the 2006 second-rounder should expect to start his North American playing days with the Sabres unannounced AHL affiliate (rumored to be Portland, ME).
5/31/2008 | 8 comments | Read More

USA Hockey rewards Gerbe

Written By Kris Baker on Thursday, May 29, 2008 | 5/29/2008

Congrats go out to Nathan Gerbe, whose 2007-08 season just got a little sweeter by being named National College Player of the Year by USA Hockey.

Gerbe recently signed a professional contract with the Buffalo Sabres.

He earned All-America first-team honors and was a runner-up for the Hobey Baker Award in 2007-08. He led all Division I scorers with 68 points -- 35 goals and 33 assists -- in 43 games.

Additionally, Gerbe captured NCAA Frozen Four Most Outstanding Player accolades after he registered eight points -- five goals and three assists - in victories over North Dakota (4/10) and Notre Dame (4/12) to lead Boston College to the national title.

5/29/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Hockey world mourns loss of Bourdon

Vancouver Canucks defenseman Luc Bourdon, 21, was killed this morning in a motor vehicle accident.
“We are deeply saddened by today’s news and on behalf of the entire Vancouver Canucks organization, I would like to extend my sincere sympathies to Luc’s family,” said Canucks General Manager, Mike Gillis. “Luc was an extremely talented player with a bright future. He brought great passion to the game and was a valued team member on and off the ice. He will be greatly missed.”
SabresProspects is deeply saddened by the loss of this promising young man and prospect. We'd like to pass along our condolences to the Bourdon family and friends, as well as the entire Canucks organization and their fans.
5/29/2008 | 1 comments | Read More

Sabres hitting the Beach?

Written By Kris Baker on Saturday, May 24, 2008 | 5/24/2008

An "On The Fly" segment on the NHL Network this week had a mention of the Sabres trying to ship veteran winger Maxim Afinogenov to Vancouver as part of a deal that would land the Sabres the #10 pick in next month's draft. GM Darcy Regier spoke of Afinogenov's possible departure at his postseason press conference, and it seems that Canucks fans have always had an interest in the speedy Russian since the days of Pavel Bure. Already holding picks 13 and 26 (from San Jose), the Sabres could have three first round picks in one of the deeper drafts this decade. The Sabres rumored target with that #10 pick? Kyle Beach, the 6'3, 208-pound forward from Everett of the WHL. A player who goes hard to the net, Beach brings a powerful mix of skill and physical play that could allow him to immediately jump to the professional ranks. He'd likely be gone by the time the 13th selection rolls around. While piling up points and PIMs (27-33-60 222 PIM in 60 GP), his style also contributed to two concussions (from fists) and a fractured orbital bone (from a puck) in a span between December and March. Character issues have been raised in the past, but the impact forward could thrive given time to mature with the right organization. Is he really a gamble? There's no question that his tools would be a welcome addition to the Sabres pipeline.
5/24/2008 | 17 comments | Read More

'Cats coach expects MacKenzie to contribute

Written By Kris Baker on Thursday, May 22, 2008 | 5/22/2008

Today's Burlington Free Press served an update on the University of Vermont's incoming freshmen class. A 7th round pick in 2007, Drew MacKenzie gets to exchange his red and black of Waterloo this fall for the Catamounts' green and gold.
Joining Madore and Marshall as the freshmen expected to make immediate contributions is defenseman Drew MacKenzie, a 6-foot-2, 200-pounder who helped the Waterloo Blackhawks reach the USHL championship round. “He was quietly one of the best defensemen in the USHL,” Sneddon said of the seventh-round Buffalo Sabres draft pick. “He’s got offensive ability; he’s tough, very good defensively and very, very steady. We expect Drew to step into the lineup right away.” MacKenzie collected four goals and 18 points with a plus-7 rating. He added six assists in the playoffs.
5/22/2008 | 1 comments | Read More

Kennedy given "A"; Comley expects him gone

This week, Rick Comley named Tim Kennedy as an alternate captain for the 2008-09 edition of his Michigan State Spartans. However, the coach did throw a little barb out there regarding Kennedy's future.
Although he was named an alternate captain, Kennedy’s future with the Spartans is uncertain. Comley expects the forward to complete a deal with the Buffalo Sabres in the near future. “I can’t imagine they aren’t going to come to their senses and give him what he deserves,” Comley said. “But if he returned he might be the best player in the country.” If Kennedy leaves, Comley will name another alternate captain.
It appears that Kennedy wants to turn pro, but the haggling point is still the AHL level salary that he would earn. Stay tuned as this story develops. While not being subject to losing his rights until next offseason, the Sabres can exercise patience and time as assets, or they can use the intriguing commodity to sweeten a pending deal to address other needs if there's a hint of acrimony. Kennedy is in that left wing pool with names like Vanek, Hecht, Paille, MacArthur, and Hunter, while Gragnani, Gogulla, and Gerbe could also be tabbed to skate down that side.
5/22/2008 | 5 comments | Read More

Season done for Byron

Paul Byron's season came to an end Tuesday, as Gatineau was bounced out of the Memorial Cup with a 3-1 loss to Spokane. The game's #3 star, Byron became more impressive as the game wore on, using his outside speed to generate chances for les Olympiques. The club was gassed though, and Spokane played a simple game to seal the win as they head into the finals. Going 0-3 in Kitchener, injury riddled Gatineau became the first QMJHL team to go winless in a Memorial Cup since Acadie-Bathurst in 1999 in Ottawa. Even though Byron wasn't the scoring machine that he had been in previous weeks, his determined performance gained him a national mention in The Hockey News.
10. Paul Byron, C – Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL): The speedy Byron has shown off his gifts at the Cup so far after finishing second in the Quebec League’s playoff scoring with 32 points in 19 games. Drafted 179th overall by Buffalo in 2007.
5/22/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Byron with a helper in Gatineau loss

Written By Kris Baker on Monday, May 19, 2008 | 5/19/2008

At the Memorial Cup in Kitchener, Paul Byron picked up an assist in Gatineau's 6-3 loss to Belleville. The 5'10 Byron spotted an open Claude Giroux to tie the game at 3-3 midway through the second period, but that was all the exciting pair could muster as Gatineau fell to 0-2 at the gathering of the the CHL's best. Byron has registered an assist in each of the tourney losses.
Giroux, who played two games for the Philadelphia Flyers in February, scored his first of the tournament at 9:35 of the second period. Quick-handed Paul Byron sent a pass through the top of the crease and Giroux deflected the puck low on Murphy's glove hand.
The Bulls held their ground in the deciding frame, wearing down les Olympiques with three goals in the final 7:00 of play to pick up their first Memorial Cup victory. Gatineau will look to get their first win tomorrow when they square off against WHL representatives, Spokane.
5/19/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Byron and Giroux to be reunited?

Written By Kris Baker on Sunday, May 18, 2008 | 5/18/2008

It looks like Gatineau Coach Benoit Groulx is ready to break his initial strategy, and again pair up his dual speedsters, Paul Byron and Claude Giroux, for the club's Mem Cup match-up with Belleville on Monday.
Olympiques coach Benoit Groulx, who split up Giroux and speedy centre Paul Byron during Friday's contest, says he will probably put them back together against Belleville. Whatever Groulx decides to do, he expects his front-line players to be better than they were against Kitchener. "It's not done yet, but chances are pretty high they will be playing together," Groulx said. "We addressed the situation with (Giroux and Byron). In a tournament like this, they brought us here, we're not going to start to point the finger at them. But we know it, they know it: they have to be our top guys on the ice if we hope to win this, and we're confident that they got their bad game out of their system."
It's hard to imagine why the coach would split up the deadly duo in their game one loss. Entering Kitchener, Byron and Giroux had combined for 83 points in their 19-game QMJHL title run, while three others averaged over a point-per-game. Byron would end the article with a quote that should please most Sabres fans.
Groulx said Sunday's practice was a good, intense session. Now it's time to face the Bulls. "They have a strong team and a very good goalie. They have their strengths, we have ours. The most important thing for us (tonight) is to start the game on the right foot." Byron, who scored one goal against the Rangers but had a plus/minus mark of minus-one, knows he must be one of those strengths. "If you can't handle the pressure, you shouldn't be here," Byron said.
5/18/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Enroth done with SSK, expects to be in Portland

News site Lanstidningen i Soldertalje is reporting that Jhonas Enroth will not be returning to SSK of the SEL, and instead is focusing on getting a deal done with the Sabres before the June 1st deadline. After that date, Buffalo will no longer own the rights to the Swedish netminder. Enroth mentions the Portland Pirates by name as his expected 2008-09 club. He's not against playing with the farm club "as long as the Sabres offer does not pay him poorly". He isn't ruling out a return to the SEL, but admits that he hasn't spoken to his agent regarding that option. For those who haven't been following, Portland is the long rumored destination of Buffalo's AHL partner next season. The Sabres have confirmed that they were ending the league's longest running affiliation agreement with Rochester, but no official announcement has been made regarding Portland. The Pirates, who have been stocked with Anaheim Ducks prospects the past three seasons, are currently playing the AHL Eastern Conference Finals. Expect a Larry Quinn press conference shortly after the Pirates season concludes.
5/18/2008 | 3 comments | Read More

Byron scores again; 'Piques fall in opener

Written By Kris Baker on Saturday, May 17, 2008 | 5/17/2008

Paul Byron scored his 22nd goal of the post-season, but Gatineau opened the 2008 Mastercard Memorial Cup with a 6-5 OT loss to host, Kitchener. Trailing 3-1, Byron crashed the net in the second period to slide a rebound past Josh Unice to close the gap to one. Before any of the eleven goals were scored, Byron made noise with the first hit of the game just :15 in that sent Rangers scorer Justin Azevedo down to the ice in the neutral zone. With coach Benoit Groulx separating the red-hot duo of Byron and Claude Giroux (51 playoff points) for most of the night, one may wonder if Gatineau takes the heat off each player, and rolls with what has worked best when they take the ice Monday against Belleville.
5/17/2008 | 2 comments | Read More

Gogulla fields a few questions

Written By Kris Baker on Tuesday, May 13, 2008 | 5/13/2008

Last week, Philip Gogulla (2005, 48th overall) spoke to IIHF.com after Germany's win over Slovakia at the World Championship. The short Q&A doesn't reveal anything about his future plans, but it's worth the plug regardless. Gogulla: We must play smart hockey
In watching you play, you seem more of a playmaker than a shooter. Am I right? Gogulla: Yes, I guess I am. I probably should shoot more but the goal that made it 3-1, I saw Michael Hackert on my right side and gave him a nice pass. You have to get the puck to skaters in a position to score, and that's what I like to do.
In six games, Gogulla has scored a goal and three assists. This ties him for third on the team in points, which is a job well done considering he's taken the fewest shifts among players who've skated in every game. The 6'2, 198-pound winger has just four shots on goal all tourney (supporting his quote above), but he's proven his worth as Germany's youngest player.
5/13/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Byron gears up for Memorial Cup

Written By Kris Baker on Monday, May 12, 2008 | 5/12/2008

Today's Ottawa Citizen featured a preview of the Gatineau Olympiques' Memorial Cup appearance. C Paul Byron enters the tournament as the CHL's top goal scorer with 21 goals. The next closest player is Kitchener RW Matt Halischuk with 16. Groulx, Olympiques gear up for another run at Memorial Cup
Three players with something to prove in Kitchener, even if they say they don't, are Claude Giroux, Paul Byron and Darryl Smith. Giroux and Byron were both passed over in the Ontario Hockey League draft before joining the Olympiques, while Smith started his major-junior career with the OHL's Guelph Storm before joining the Olympiques in 2005. Byron played junior B with the Ottawa West Golden Knights. "Things happen for a reason and not being drafted by the OHL was probably the best thing that ever happened to me," said Byron, who a year ago was a sixth-round draft pick by the NHL's Buffalo Sabres. "I'm happy Gatineau gave me the opportunity to play here, and I'm going to go to the Memorial Cup and play as hard as I can to win."
The Olympiques open the tournament Friday against the host Kitchener Rangers.
5/12/2008 | 3 comments | Read More

Persson heading to Timra?

Written By Kris Baker on Sunday, May 11, 2008 | 5/11/2008

Swedish news source Dagbladet is reporting that Timra may be interested in signing D Dennis Persson to a contract for 2008-09. Former DIF Asst. Coach Challe Berglund is entering year two as Timra's bench boss (with a second former DIF assistant as his wing man), and it's possible that his interest in the free agent blueliner may stem from their brief connection in Djurgarden. With Timra being a participant in Elitserien, this could be a positive sign for Persson after a tough 2007-08 season. Difficulty achieving ice time with Djurgarden landed the 6'1 defenseman in Sweden's second division, HockeyAllsvenskan. After the season, DIF decided that Persson no longer fit into their plans. Perhaps a fresh SEL start on a less-cluttered blue line in Timra is the ingredient to releasing the skills that made him the 24th pick at the 2006 draft. How does this impact his status with the Sabres? For now, it doesn't. Persson can be signed by the Sabres and still play under contract in the SEL. Remember, Henrik Tallinder ('97) played three seasons in Sweden and another in Finland before coming across the pond. All this really tells us is that Persson is likely to remain overseas for at least another season before pursuing a North American hockey career.
5/11/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Season ends for MacKenzie

In the deciding fifth game of the Clark Cup Finals, Waterloo D Drew MacKenzie picked up an assist as the 'Hawks fell to Omaha, 4-3 in OT.
Drew MacKenzie made a nice play in neutral ice to help Waterloo jump ahead. MacKenzie's pass ignited Liivik on a mini-breakaway along the boards and as he carried the puck behind Palmisano, he sent a centering pass to Juutilainen who beat the Lancer netminder 5-hole for a 2-1 lead with 3:36 to go.
In 11 playoff games, the New Canaan, CT native compiled six assists and was a +2. It's expected that he will participate in the Prospect Camp shortly after the June draft before heading to the University of Vermont for the fall semester.
5/11/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Byron, Gatineau to play for Memorial Cup

Written By Kris Baker on Saturday, May 10, 2008 | 5/10/2008

Paul Byron had two assists as Gatineau closed out their QMJHL quest for the President's Cup with a 7-3 rout of Rouyn-Noranda. Chosen 179th overall in the 2007 draft, Byron finished second in playoff scoring with 32 points, including a league-best 21 goals. Gatineau gets it done
After Giroux finished off a shorthanded breakaway with a backhand goal into the top of the net two minutes later, Byron set up Pistilli for two one-timer goals that Pistilli rocketed into the net. After Piche had scored for the Huskies, Byron setup Pistilli for another one timer after Gougeon and defenceman Guillaume Lepine had some miscommunication and coughed up the puck.
With the QMJHL title in tow, les Olympiques move on to battle for CHL bragging rights at the 2008 Memorial Cup.
The Olympiques are now off to Kitchener, Ont., for the Memorial Cup, and will play their first game Friday against the host Rangers. The Belleville Bulls will represent the Ontario Hockey League despite the fact they trail their best-of-seven final with the Rangers 3-2. After a four-game sweep over the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the Western Hockey League final, the Spokane Chiefs will be the fourth entry at the national junior championship tournament.
5/10/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Gogulla gets a goal; Germans fall

Written By Kris Baker on Wednesday, May 7, 2008 | 5/07/2008

Philip Gogulla notched his first goal of the World Championship, but the Germans needed more in their 3-2 loss to Norway.
Philip Gogulla made it 2-0 at 4:09 into the second period with a great second effort when his initial backhand did not beat Pal Grontes. Staying with the play, Gogulla jammed it home for his first-ever World Championship goal. Prior to this, Gogulla had seven assists since joining the national team in 2007.
Gogulla's tally put Germany ahead 2-0, but three unanswered goals sank the club over the final period and a half.
5/07/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Byron keeps going...and going.

In game four of the President's Cup finals, Paul Byron had a three-point night as Gatineau defeated Rouyn-Noranda, 4-1. After assisting on the first two Olympiques markers, the CHL's goal scoring leader added his 21st on a second period power play. As is often the case when Gatineau takes the ice, Byron also led the way in blocked shots with four. Ahead in the series 3-1, Gatineau will look to skate the Cup, and advance to the 2008 Memorial Cup in Kitchener, Ontario with a win on Friday.
5/07/2008 | 2 comments | Read More

Fun with numbers

Below is a set of stat lines for two players at similar developmental points. They played in similar leagues for clubs holding great tradition, with each leading the nation in scoring during their respective runs. Both players also guided their teams to a national title during the capsulized spans.
2002-03 (Age 19) 45GP 31-31-62 60 PIM 2003-04 (Age 20) 38GP 28-25-53 72 PIM - - - - -(Total) 83GP 59-56-115 132 PIM 2006-07 (Age 19) 41GP 25-22-47 76 PIM 2007-08 (Age 20) 43GP 35-33-68 65 PIM - - - - -(Total) 84GP 60-55-115 141 PIM
Thomas Vanek (Minnesota) and Nathan Gerbe (Boston College) employ different styles for sure, but the statistical similarities during their NCAA days are worth noting. Gerbe's game is built more on speed, but like Vanek, he's difficult to take off the puck and scores most of his goals "down low". Vanek has carved out a hobby of parking and tipping near the paint, while Gerbe prefers the organic method of firing shots from all angles to cash in. Sabres fans aren't going to care how it's done as long as both are lighting lamps in blue and gold sweaters for the foreseeable future. Quick memo to SabreNation: Save the date! Outlook July 1, 2011 in your smart phones with the tag, "Kevin Lowe tenders RFA offer sheet to Gerbe"...
5/07/2008 | 2 comments | Read More

MacKenzie earns hometown ink

In today's Stamford Times, Connecticut natives were given an update on local product and USHL defenseman, Drew MacKenzie.
Waterloo coach P.K. O'Handley has coached the Hawks for six season and described McKenzie in glowing terms. McKenzie is scheduled to play at the University of Vermont next year and was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in last year's NHL draft. "Drew has really helped our team to get to the finals," said O'Handley. "He has a very good all-around game and his presence on the ice is second to none. (Drew) is one of the finest young men I have ever had the opportunity to coach. He will be a heckuva defenseman at Vermont and in the NHL."
MacKenzie and the 'Hawks are currently locked at one game apiece in the Clark Cup final match-up with Omaha.
5/07/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Schutz joins the fold

The Sabres today announced that they have come to terms with 2006 4th round pick, Felix Schutz.
Schutz (11/3/1987, 5’11”, 192 lbs.) was eighth in team scoring with 25 points (12+13) and 76 PIMs in 46 games last season, and was named the league’s Rookie of the Year. He was also the youngest player on ERC Ingolstadt. “Felix is a great competitor who plays at a high skill level,” said Regier. “His experience in both the QMJHL and German Elite League last season has rounded his game perfectly for the professional level.”
5/07/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

5/6 Recap: Byron's wicked stat line

Written By Kris Baker on Tuesday, May 6, 2008 | 5/06/2008

4 even-strength goals, 2 assists, 6 points, +4, 5 SOG, 4 blocked shots, 1 electrifying prospect. That more or less speaks for itself. With Paul Byron leading the way, Gatineau thumped Rouyn-Noranda 10-4 to take a 2-1 series lead in the QMJHL President's Cup Final. The shifty sixth-rounder (2007) continues to lead the entire CHL with 20 goals in 17 playoff games. He'll look to add to his totals when the two teams play it back tomorrow night in Gatineau.
5/06/2008 | 1 comments | Read More

Sabres sign Gerbe

WGR-550 AM is reporting that Nathan Gerbe has agreed to terms with the Sabres.
The Buffalo Sabres have signed prospect Nathan Gerbe. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Gerbe helped Boston College win the NCAA Championship over Notre Dame this season. The Junior was the runner-up for the Hobey Baker award for best Collegiate player. Gerbe had 5 goals and 3 assists in the Frozen Four.
The signing comes hours after the Buffalo News ran a nice article on the speedster in this morning's edition. Sabres prospect Gerbe won’t be shortchanged
With the inspiration from his brother and the skill that runs in the family, Gerbe is at a place few have reached. The last month has been a storybook, starting with his success at Boston College and ending with an invitation to train with the United States world championship team. “Obviously, winning the Frozen Four is the highlight of the month, year or career there so far,” Gerbe said last week in Maine after a Team USA practice. “This is another highlight of mine, to be able to compete for your country again. . . . It’s definitely been a fun couple weeks.” Now comes the hard part. The 20-year-old must decide whether to sign with the Sabres and begin his professional career or return to Boston College for his senior year. To Gerbe, it’s not a big dilemma. On one hand, he wins. On the other hand, he wins again. “Right now I’m 50-50,” said Gerbe, who added there has been little contact with the Sabres. “I would like to see what happens when I talk to them. I think it would be nice for a new challenge. Going back to school would also be fun. There’s definitely positives to both sides. I just have to get ready to make a good decision here. “I’m pretty open. I like to hear both sides. I’ll probably go back to school and have a sit down with our coaching staff. I haven’t been able to do that yet. I think it would be good to hear what they have to say.”
Apparently what they (the Sabres) said was good enough. See you at camp, Nate.
5/06/2008 | 1 comments | Read More

5/5 Recap: Gogulla helpers propel Germans

At the World Championship in Halifax, Philip Gogulla set-up the eventual game winner for Germany in their dominating 4-2 win over Slovakia.
The Germans continued to press and impress, and late in the period they were rewarded with a beautiful goal. Philip Gogulla took a stretch pass up the middle from Michael Bakos deep in his own end. As a Slovakian defenceman chased Gogulla down, he turned and delivered a backhand pass to Michael Hackert in the slot. Hackert beat Lasak between the pads to restore the Germans’ two-goal lead before the end of the period.
With an adjusted published weight of 198 lbs, the 6'2 German winger later earned the primary assist on the power-play as Germany closed out their scoring in the third period.
"We kept the puck deep and didn't take any stupid penalties," Gogulla added.
Gogulla's two assists tonight come on the heels of a breakout year for the 20-year old. The winger scored more points for league runner-up Cologne (11-33-44) than he did in his first two DEL seasons combined (43). He also added three assists in three games at the Skoda Cup against entries from Slovakia, France, and Switzerland. Gogulla's future teammate in Buffalo, Andrej Sekera, was named Slovakia's Best Player in the loss... In the USHL, Drew MacKenzie and the 'Hawks couldn't get a goal in Waterloo's 2-0 loss to Omaha. The teams have split the first two games of the Clark Cup Finals, and will head to Waterloo for Game Three on Wednesday.
5/06/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

More notes on Byron's emergence

Written By Kris Baker on Monday, May 5, 2008 | 5/05/2008

Fished out of the pond late, here is a piece on Gatineau coach Benoit Groulx from last Friday's Chronicle Herald (Nova Scotia). Included were remarks on les Olympiques dynamic duo of Claude Giroux (PHI) and Sabres 2007 sixth-rounder, Paul Byron. On the "secret" to stopping his club:
So who knows what that one thing is? Maybe Groulx is worried that Rouyn-Noranda head coach Andre Tourigny will have an effective method to shut down Claude Giroux and Paul Byron. The two snipers were nearly unstoppable against the Mooseheads, piling up a combined 18 points in four games and skating circles around Halifax’s defence. The Halifax coaching staff elected not to shadow Giroux and Byron the way the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles shadowed Halifax stars Jakub Voracek and Brad Marchand in the second round. Hindsight being what it is, that might have helped the Mooseheads. One NHL scout I know well also suggested that Halifax erred by not being more belligerent with the two slightly undersized forwards. His logic was that it would have been worth a try to try to hammer on Byron and Giroux physically to see if they would eventually grow tired of the attention and shy away in the offensive zone. The Mooseheads never really did this.
A litmus test on Byron's ability to take a hammering in a pressure situation would be welcome to those who suggest he's too small to succeed at the next level. Smart money says Byron can deal with it. I fondly remember a story from last summer about Byron getting into it with LNAH heavyweight Ryan James Hand during a pick-up game. This isn't to say that he'd easily transition to an old time, Eddie Shore style of play, or that the Q finals is equivalent to an offseason skate. It only suggests that he's seen physical hockey before. Heck, he may even draw a few penalties in the process. After dropping the opener on home ice, Rouyn-Noranda cruised to a 6-2 win in game two. They managed to hold Giroux to a single assist while keeping Byron off the sheet, but it wasn't accomplished via physical means. The Huskies only outhit Gatineau by a 13-9 margin. Going 4/5 on the power play was the "secret" there. Later, the author offers an additional bit on Byron:
And how about Byron? People in Gatineau have surely known longer than the rest of us how good this guy is; but what a show he put on against the Mooseheads! He may only weigh about 140 pounds, but he sure can skate and handle the puck. He was a real treat to watch.
Tied 1-1 in their best-of-seven QMJHL Final series with the Huskies, Gatineau is three wins away from allowing Byron to present his skills on Canadian junior's brightest stage, The Memorial Cup. Of course, the lights get brighter if you skate for your country at the World Juniors. As of now, it's a safe assumption that the speedy Ottawa native is flying high on the radar of Hockey Canada.
5/05/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

MacKenzie's 'Hawks Take Game One

Written By Kris Baker on Sunday, May 4, 2008 | 5/04/2008

In the opening game of the Clark Cup finals, D Drew MacKenzie registered a shot on goal for Waterloo in their 4-3 OT win over Omaha. The Black Hawks will look to steal another road win from the USHL regular season champions tomorrow evening in Mid America Center.
5/04/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Future of Gerbe and Kennedy speculated

In today's Buffalo News, Bucky Gleason offered his spin on the situations surrounding the Sabres pair of talented collegians, Nathan Gerbe and Tim Kennedy.
Sabres prospects dangle With every day that passes without a contract agreement, the chances increase that Sabres prospect Nathan Gerbe is headed back to college for his senior year. If he plays out his final season, he’s as good as gone. You would think the Sabres learned their lessons over the past few years, but they continue jerking around their players. They could end up alienating — and losing — Gerbe and South Buffalo native Tim Kennedy if both players decide to get tough in negotiations. And they would have every right. Gerbe led the nation in scoring, led his team to a national championship, was the best player in the Frozen Four and was selected to play for Team USA in the world championships. He’s going to play in the NHL. He shouldn’t accept less than the maximum allowed for rookies, or $850,000 a year. And you wonder why players don’t want to deal with these guys. Kennedy is in a similar position. He led Michigan State to a national title the previous year and led the Spartans in scoring two straight years. Sources said recent contract talks stalled after the Sabres made a lowball offer. We’ll see if he elects to play out his senior year and become a UFA. Both would find plenty of suitors.
Can Gleason verify that the Sabres have not made, or will not make, a "bona fide" offer to Gerbe? Either way, I don't read the Gerbe situation so much about money as it is his desire to finish out his college years. He was considered an academic longshot entering Boston College, and I have little issue with Gerbe pursuing his degree if it's indeed a personal milestone. The argument can be made that the talented gunner has little to prove by returning to school, that he can always finish school during summer months. An equally compelling argument can be made that being in college is a unique time of your life that should be consumed to the max. It's likely he'd spend most, if not all, of next season in the AHL. Good luck with your decision, Nate. The Kennedy situation seems a little different. I've also heard that this is a money issue, but I'm concerned about how much leverage the Kennedy camp has right now. The Spartan senior-to-be deserves to be compensated more than a typical 6th round pick, but I don't expect him to sign a deal greater than what a player like Clarke MacArthur garnered when he left the Dub (600-650K range). Perhaps the sticking point is the non-NHL salary portion of the deal, since that has the most immediate impact on a young man cutting short his education to turn pro.
5/04/2008 | 2 comments | Read More

5/3 Recap: Streak ends for top CHL sniper

Paul Byron saw his twelve game point-streak come to an end as Gatineau fell to Rouyn-Noranda, 6-2, in Game 2 of the QMJHL Finals. The Huskies win evens the series at a game apiece as the clubs head to Gatineau for Game 3 on Tuesday. The 5'10 pivot compiled 15 goals and 19 total points over the torrid stretch, and his 16 goals overall top the entire CHL playoff leaderboard. 2008 prospect Zach Boychuk of Lethbridge leads the WHL with 13 goals, while Team Canada WJC hero Matt Halischuk paces the OHL with 15 goals for Kitchener.
5/04/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Gogulla, Germany fall in opener

Written By Kris Baker on Saturday, May 3, 2008 | 5/03/2008

In Halifax, Philip Gogulla was -2 as Germany dropped their IIHF World Championship opener to Finland, 5-1. Gogulla was fourth among German forwards with 13:48 in ice time, but failed to register a shot on goal in the loss. Team Germany and their raucous fans will take a day off before facing Slovakia on Monday.
5/03/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Eidsness ready to go

Per the Grand Forks Herald, Brad Eidsness looks poised to win the starting job as a freshman at the University of North Dakota...and to be an exemplary student.
The 19-year-old goaltender recruit said he hopes to enroll in summer classes at UND and get to campus early in order to prepare to battle for the starting job this fall. “I’m really looking forward to it,” said Eidsness, a Chestermere, Alta., native who is expected to compete with senior-to-be Aaron Walski for playing time. “Knowing I have a chance to play my first season is quite exciting. When (Anthony) Grieco left last fall, I knew I might get a chance to play more this season and I think that helped motivate me a little bit more. “I want to get there this summer to get in the swing of things and hopefully I’ll be ready to go right off the bat.”
Full article talking about UND's incoming class can be found here (registration required). After being named AJHL MVP, the Sabres 2007 5th round pick was also tabbed as the Okotoks Oilers MVP at their season banquet. Elsewhere from the banquet circuit: Harvard D Alex Biega was named an Assistant Captain for the 2008-09 season. The "A" he'll wear next season will be the first on a Crimson sweater since 2005. At Denver, D Chris Butler received his second consecutive Keith Magnuson Memorial Award given to the club's best defensive player. This past season also saw the St. Louis native become the school's 34th All-American. Across town at the 59th Annual Pike's Peak Club banquet, Boston College junior Nathan Gerbe was given the Norman H. Dailey Memorial Award as team MVP. The Oxford, MI native was also the recipient of the Herb Gallagher Award (New England's top forward) at the New England Hockey Writer's banquet. Junior Tim Kennedy was named Michigan State's Outstanding Offensive Player at their mid-April celebration. Freshman netminder Nick Eno earned Most Improved Player honors at Bowling Green's season ending fete. In St. Catharines, D Drew Schiestel was named Most Sportsmanlike Player by the Niagara Ice Dogs.
5/03/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Sanborn's McCollum sitting pretty for draft

Western New York native Thomas McCollum of the OHL's Guelph Storm has been ranked the #1 North American goaltender in Central Scouting's final list for the 2008 NHL draft. Draft winds blow McCollum's way On the possibility of being selected by the Sabres:
"That would be great, to play in front of your hometown fans," McCollum said of the possibility. "But they've got a couple of goaltenders in their system who are younger and pretty talented, and they have Ryan Miller there right now."
On the unlikely path taken to draft day:
He was discovered by Guelph by accident, when Niagara-area scout Bob Rivet went to a tournament with the intention of scouting one of McCollum's teammates. A visit by the coaching staff, several phone calls and a trip by the close-knit McCollum family (his parents and grandparents are season-ticket holders) to Guelph sealed the deal. Nobody expected he would have two OHL all-star games and trip to the top prospects game on his resumé in his first two seasons in the league. "There are times it hits me, especially when I'm back home," McCollum says of his rise to fame. "If I'm talking with a friend that I used to play junior B with, it's kind of like 'how did I get lucky and end up in Guelph and they're stuck there?' I put the time in, I work hard. But at the same time I caught a break."
5/03/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

5/2 Recap: Byron nets game winner

Locked in a 2-2 tie entering the third period, Sabres property Paul Byron notched the game winning goal for Gatineau, lifting les Olympiques to a 6-2 win over Rouyn-Noranda in the opening frame of the QMJHL Finals. The power play winner was Byron's 16th of the playoffs. He accumulated five shots on goal in the win, while also contributing a team-best four blocks. The two clubs will battle again this evening for game two.
5/03/2008 | 2 comments | Read More

Byron getting noticed

Written By Kris Baker on Friday, May 2, 2008 | 5/02/2008

Today's National Post contained a nice piece on Gatineau's Paul Byron. Byron and les Olympiques begin their QMJHL series with Rouyn-Noranda tonight. Olympiques’ little man putting up big numbers
"He's not very big," says one of his former coaches, Ottawa West Golden Knights Jr. B head coach and president Blake Sinclair, "but he plays like a 200-pounder." A 200-pounder with hands. In their run-up to the league final, which opens Friday in Rouyn-Noranda, the Olympiques have been in 14 playoff games - and Byron has 15 goals. No one in the "Q" has scored more this spring (Scott Howes of Saint John also has 15). Byron is tied for fourth in points, with 20, behind his winger, Giroux, the Philadelphia Flyers' hot prospect.
Byron's 2008 playoff performance comes a year after last season's playoff year that saw him score five goals in five games.
He tries not to get caught up in the anticipation of next fall's pro camp in Buffalo (the thumb injury limited his activity at last year's camp), or even the possibility of a Memorial Cup tournament if Gatineau can survive this round. Byron's thoughts are on tonight's game, on getting better as a two-way player. His favourite NHL player is Paul Kariya, but Byron tries to play a more robust style than his hero. "I try to be smart and use my quickness to get out of situations," Byron says, "but I also try to play hard physically. When you hit, you create turnovers and chances. I find a lot of people play me soft because they look at me and don't expect me to be physical."
5/02/2008 | 0 comments | Read More