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Eyeballing the shot clock

Written By Kris Baker on Sunday, June 29, 2008 | 6/29/2008

The radar gun made an appearance at this afternoon's Development Camp session. On the main pad, the Blue and Gold groups separately rotated between three stations - two for shooting, with a center ice passing area nestled in between. A shooter tutor tested the players' accuracy at one end, while they had the opportunity to get clocked for bragging rights at the other. With the radar gun in play, each skater fired eight shots on net (two each of the snap, wrist, slap, and backhand variety). For the sake of data capture, the best scores of the snap and wrist shots are combined into one category. Not only was the general speed for each player's snap and wrister roughly 1-2 MPH apart, but most of the guys released the puck in the same manner during those sets. Below is a MPH chart for each participant.
Blueliners T.J. Brennan (93), Drew Schiestel (88), Mike Kotska (88), and Alex Biega (87) clocked in with the fastest slappers. We knew that Brennan and Biega could bring the heat, while the howitzers of Schiestel and Kostka were a pleasant surprise. Biega also flicked the quickest backhander (49 MPH). On the wrist/snap shot side of things, Mike Weber (74), Mark Van Guilder (73), T.J. Brennan (71), Luke Adam (71), Chris Butler (70), and Marc-Andre Gragnani (70) all eclipsed the 70-MPH plateau. Van Guilder's snap shot was just five miles-per-hour off his 78-MPH slapper. Today's moment of levity came when the first Blue group hit the radar station. To my point earlier, Felix Schutz didn't really know the difference between a snap shot and a wrist shot (we actually remarked about his snap ability two days ago in this space). When explained to him, it was clear that a traditional wrist shot is not part of repertoire. This was further evidenced by his awkward looking 57-MPH "bomb". Don't worry, Felix. We know you can play. (Gogulla later debunked the notion that German coaches don't teach that part of the game by executing a textbook wrister.) The two squads switched pads midway through the session, with skating and conditioning drills being conducted on the other side. The players will take the ice from 3-5 PM tomorrow and Tuesday before going their separate ways to hopefully catch some rays. These guys deserve it.
6/29/2008 | 12 comments | Read More

Saturday Scrimmage Recap

Written By Kris Baker on Saturday, June 28, 2008 | 6/28/2008

This afternoon at the Sabres Development Camp, Team Blue shutout Team Gold, 5-0. Nathan Gerbe scored a pair of goals for the winners, while Andrew Orpik added a goal and an assist. Felix Schutz and Dennis Persson rounded out the scoring. The starting lineups were as follows: Blue Gerbe-Zagrapan-Gogulla Sekera-Card Eidsness Followed by: Van Guilder-Schutz-Orpik MacKenzie-Gragnani Kennedy-Hunter-Allard Myers-Southorn-Persson Eno Gold Ennis-Cepis-Whitmore Butler-Weber Enroth Other base combos: Kaleta-Irwin-Adam-Tropp Schiestel-Kostka Vatri-Scarsella-Lagace Brennan-Biega-Crawford For the most part, the defensive pairs for both teams were shuffled around with each team dressing seven. Sekera was seen with Gragnani, Weber played with Biega, Card with MacKenzie, etc. The Gold forward lines varied quite a bit as well. Paul Byron and Adam Dennis did not participate in today's scrimmage, nor did Drew Stafford. The first period started quickly, with Gold controlling the opening draw. Jacob Cepis quickly entered the zone wide, but couldn't connect on a centering pass to Tyler Ennis. A member of the CCHA All-Rookie Team with Bowling Green teammate Nick Eno, Cepis made a good overall impression today. Ennis was very noticeable, using his small frame to find angles to fit the puck towards the net. He sparked the offensive side of things nearly every shift. He seemed to take a stick in the mouth while coming across the middle early on, and slashed back at MacKenzie after taking an elbow up high at the end of the same shift. Most of the first half was back and forth, with both Jhonas Enroth and Brad Eidsness making some keys saves for their squads. Nick Eno relieved Eidsness at the midway point, and was able to shut the door on his Gold foes. The Gerbe-Zagrapan-Gogulla line maintained pressure whenever they were on the ice, but the combo of Van Guilder-Schutz-Orpik was equally impressive for Team Blue. Going 1-2 on the forecheck, the trio plugged the neutral zone and generated many offensive opportunities throughout the day. Schutz made a nice intercept early resulting in Enroth having to make two big saves. Van Guilder, a graduate of Notre Dame, often spearheaded that 1-2 and looks to be positioning himself nicely for a spot in Buffalo training camp. He hit a crashing Orpik, who cashed a one timer past a sprawling Enroth for the only goal of the first. Other notes from the first half: Tyler Myers used his long reach to break up a couple of Gold rushes in the neutral zone. Later in the half, his partner Jordon Southorn made a nice breakup on a backdoor attempt by Corey Tropp. The speedy Alex Biega showed off his cannon point shot, one timing a Nick Crawford pass into the belly of Eidsness. I don't think there's a more aware player on the ice than Biega. Eidsness was able to see most of the shots all day with his ability to stay with the puck. We continue to be impressed with his attention to detail, and technical approach to each shooter. Hopefully he received some consideration from Hockey Canada before they sent their summer invites. Crawford handled some early heat well, winning a puck battle with Gerbe after a foot race back into his own end. Aside from the elbow on Ennis, MacKenzie played a pretty solid game. I remarked yesterday about him looking much smaller than Butler, but that's not really the case. They're about the same height with different body types. Butler is broader with his mass. Andrej Sekera used his world class skating ability to bail himself of his own zone with a fine end-to-end rush. Patrick Kaleta seemed frustrated, coughing up a puck early on, then getting thwarted by Eidsness on a scoring chance down low. The Blue unit of Kennedy-Hunter-Allard had issues gelling early, but was able to get it going. Kennedy provided the best opportunity in the first half, taking an Allard pass into the low slot to slip a pretty backhander at Enroth. The following shift, the Buffalo native made another slick move to cut inside only to be stopped again. He later had a decent collision along the boards with Jacob Lagace. Overall, Kennedy had a good day carrying the puck. Allard was again working hard all day. He made me nervous once on the backcheck by throwing a bad centering pass right up the gut from behind his net, but it proved harmless. Schutz made me similarly nervous by carrying a puck right in front of his goalie, but he seemed to do it in a much cooler manner. Shortly after Eno entered the Blue crease, Luke Adam came hard down the right side and rang a wrister off his left post. At one point, Schiestel and Kostka were paired together and made clean breakouts on successive shifts. Kostka was very smooth throughout the day with good decisions and a crisp first pass, while Schiestel showed hints of a physical game in the corners and behind his net. One of the more surprising shifts in the first came when Mike Card stickhandled his way through everyone in Gold, only to fire a wrister high over Enroth's glove. Worth mentioning was Card's handling of Brady Irwin in a corner battle. End of Half: Blue 1, Gold 0 The Second Half 30:00 back on the clock. The half once again begins with Enroth versus Eidsness. Eidsness started the action making a big, cross-ice save for Team Blue. We're not sure who the shooter was unfortunately, but it drew a nice applause from the crowd. Minutes later, Southorn made a nice pinch and lobbed a thick wrist shot at Enroth, who steered it to the corner with his blocker for his first save of the second. Just 2:40 in, Vincent Scarsella tripped up Felix Schutz near center ice. Schutz would come down on the ensuing penalty shot to beat Enroth for a 2-0 Blue lead. Near the midway point, Andrew Orpik sent Dennis Persson in alone on Enroth. The defenseman went five-hole while tumbling to give Blue a 3-0 edge. Before the scrimmage was through, Nathan Gerbe would close the scoring with a pair of goals. Marek Zagrapan came gliding down the left side and made a nice feed to the rookie, who fired a short-side shot past Enroth. The Swede probably should have had that one. Later, Gerbe would corral a perfect saucer pass from Gogulla and fire a laser from the dot over Enroth's glove for the 5-0 dagger. While Gold wasn't scoring goals, the pair of Chris Butler and Mike Weber emerged as two of their better players. Butler took the puck from end-to-end several times in the frame, creating scoring chances and breaking up Blue chances before they could develop. At one point, he gave an extra rub in the corner to his pal, Gerbe. Weber, on the other hand, controlled things with key defensive plays down low. Other notes from the second half: Team Gold's best shift came near the halfway mark, when the unit of Ennis-Cepis-Tropp twice applied pressure inside of a minute. The end of the shift resulted in a 3-1 opportunity that was shut down by Eidsness. Tropp would later miss a good chance by firing high on Eno. Marc-Andre Gragnani did see one shift early as a LW with Zagrapan and Gogulla, and later drifted into forward motion while skating a defensive shift. More proof that he's wired for LW. I'm not sure if it was Brennan, Weber, or even Adam, but someone connected with a nice check on Tyler Myers after his successful pinch. Myers shook the hit off while retreating back to his post. Brennan tried to make things happen for Team Gold late, taking the puck up ice for a rush down the left side. He's paid special attention to his own end all camp, and performed very well doing so. He's physical against the rush, and played mostly mistake free hockey today. Only once did he fail to clear his end (in the face of a Van Guilder forecheck). Along that note, a early cross-ice pass inside the blueline from the steady Schiestel was nearly picked off by Van Guilder at the 6:00 mark. It would've resulted in a solid Blue chance if intercepted, but the puck was just beyond reach of the attacker. Schiestel was later unsuccessful on a penalty shot after being tripped by Kennedy. After stealing a Mike Weber headman, a frustrated J.S. Allard skated to the bench after failing a deliver a 2-1 pass. Later in the period, a puck slipped past him near the point, and he was outskated on the way back down. Right when Eno relieved Eidsness at the 15:00 mark, Kostka sprang Kaleta on a long feed. The forward slid the puck to his backhand when approaching the crease, and either lost control or fell victim to the Eno pokecheck. A frustrated Kaleta would later break a stick in disgust on his way to the bench. On the next shift, Eno would stop Ennis on a short break. Trailing 4-0, Weber fell to his belly to break up a Orpik pass to Schutz. This is one of those plays I was referring to. He would later pull the same trick, busting up a few chances by the Gerbe-Zagrapan-Gogulla line. Mike Card again demonstrated his offensive game, rushing in late to punch a shot on Enroth. On the way back down, a circling Adam kicked the puck to a pinching Kostka. Eno made a strong, point blank stop. Josh Vatri and Jacob Lagace both mucked down low and got pucks back to the point. Vatri in particular was noticeable, as he likes to get in deep and make his presence known. In the same cluster, Vincent Scarsella is fun to watch in a Marty St. Louis kind of way. Tyler Myers made a few more breakups for Team Blue in the second by using his stick to disrupt the oncoming flow. He didn't show much in the way of a physical game, but he was poised otherwise. Late in the half, he was tripped up by Vatri, but couldn't settle a hopping puck on the penalty shot. After noticing his speed and wingspan on the forecheck in the first, I didn't see much from Brady Irwin in the second. Cepis and Van Guilder were the more effective invitees this afternoon. Jhonas Enroth didn't have the strongest outing, but he did make some solid stops including a difficult tip before the buzzer. Adapting to different rink dimensions may be partially in play on both of Gerbe's goals, as each involved quick, cross-ice reactions. Final Score: Blue 5, Gold 0
6/28/2008 | 6 comments | Read More

Blue defeats Gold, 5-0.

Already holding 1-0 lead after the first half, Team Blue scored four more times in the second (two 30:00 halves with a rolling clock) to seal a 5-0 victory over Team Gold. 2nd period goals: Felix Schutz scored on a penalty shot after being tripped by Vincent Scarsella at the 2:40 mark. It was hard to tell if he went stick or five-hole on Enroth. Minutes later, Andrew Orpik sent Dennis Persson in on Enroth. Persson beat his countryman five-hole while tumbling to the ice to give Blue a 3-0 lead. Carrying the puck down the left side, Marek Zagrapan spots Nathan Gerbe cross-ice, who in turn buries a hard shot past Enroth on the short side. Gerbe later closed the scoring with his 2nd of the day. Philip Gogulla made a perfect saucer pass down the left side to Gerbe, who beamed a laser from the dot over Enroth's glove into the far corner. More later. These bleachers aren't comfy...
6/28/2008 | 4 comments | Read More

Blue leads Gold 1-0 after one

Entering the zone from the left side, Mark Van Guilder found a crashing Andrew Orpik to give Team Blue a 1-0 lead. That's how the half ended, but don't worry. SabresProspects is taking notes with nearly every shift. Look for a detailed wrap up this evening. Getting ready for the second here at Dwyer.
6/28/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Getting ready for Blue vs. Gold

It looks like we're going to get our first scrimmage of camp today. Be sure to check back later for a complete report on the day's happenings.
6/28/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Friday Camp Notes

Written By Kris Baker on Friday, June 27, 2008 | 6/27/2008

Nathan Gerbe's legs just might be longer than Tim Kennedy's. This is just the first of many observations taken from Friday's development camp practice session. It's hard to get a feel for these players as a whole during drill work and shortened 4-4 and 4-3 workouts. The end of camp scrimmage sessions will start to fill in the gaps, but we won't fully capture the overall effectiveness of these kids until the ensuing regular seasons - wherever they may be. Still, here's some reaction to what took shape this afternoon at Dwyer Arena. Gerbe had another strong showing, displaying pure skating and shooting skills through the variety of drills. His tenacious nature suggests it's not going to take long before he's creating upward pressure on the Sabres top 12. He's not going to get faster or bigger anytime soon, so once acclimated to the speed of things, he's good to go. Tyler Myers continued to show promise with his skating and positional game. He made one questionable clearing pass in a 4-4, but in his defense, the blueline interceptor was wearing the same color jersey. His reach alone causes problems for the oncoming attack, and he's shown good closing speed when feeling opportunistic offensively. Along similar "opportunistic" lines, it was nice to see Corey Tropp kick up an extra gear in an attempt to split a pair of defenders. Tropp seems to be getting bigger, and we continue to come away happy with his developing skills. Chris Butler displayed strength in many facets today, consistently closing angles down with his body and reach while again displaying a hard, low point shot. He's a steadying presence on the ice. Today, he showed excellent lateral movement to find good shooting lanes. He's physically close to ready, but will definitely benefit from a year seasoning in Portland. He tumbled with Gerbe early in a 3-2 drill. Mike Weber was his usual tough self in front of his net, and we're more impressed with his continued dedication to footwork. With better feet he's a better closer, often forcing guys wide to push. Dennis Persson had a solid, two-way outing. In 4-4's, he twice stepped up to score on Eno, and his overall effort was simple yet sharp. He looked like a different player today after some early concerns yesterday. In early 1-1's, Marek Zagrapan and Drew Schiestel had a good battle in front of Adam Dennis. Schiestel was focused on locking up Zagrapan's stick, while Zags bumped for position. Schiestel keeps impressing with his skating. He plays a solid positional style in his own end, and we're liking his smarts and overall make-up more and more. His puck carrying skills are excellent, so all you really need to see next season in St. Catharines is general consistency while using any added strength to hold his positional ground. Zagrapan looks ready for training camp. Today, he and Philip Gogulla showed glimpses of chemistry while skating with Gerbe in 3-2's. The trio brought the heat against Butler and Mike Kostka, making creative reads to keep Brad Eidsness busy in the first half hour. Gogulla is up to snuff for North American play. If he remains stateside after camp this fall, the Jochen Hecht clone will be right in the thick of things on the Portland call-up list. He's a long strider who controls things offensively, but could opt to go back to the DEL if he doesn't stick with the Sabres. At the other end of the ice, Kennedy, Dylan Hunter, and J.S. Allard had trouble getting things going in the 3-2 against T.J. Brennan and Nick Crawford. The unit found themselves twice doing push-ups for not scoring, and was bailed out on their third series when Kennedy buried a rebound past Adam Dennis. Dylan Hunter then followed by roofing one on Dennis. Both goals were set up by Allard. Kennedy looked better today, but still had trouble cutting low. He again showed an edge when he did get there, and has good hands for loose pucks around the net. A scrimmage session will be a better medium for his smart game. Brennan looked well early, at one point riding Allard into the boards for the first boom of the afternoon. He's rolls with a real good stride, and has a pro-sized frame in the works. Allard himself showed traits of a smart, serviceable player this afternoon. It'll be interesting to see how he comes out physically in the scrimmages since he's not an overwhelming force. A strong-armed Alex Biega held his ground against Allard in a 1-1 drill, then dumped his fellow Quebecois on the ensuing rebound. Biega is another player who keeps demonstrating qualities of a solid two-way defenseman. He had a real solid battle with Gerbe at one point, rekindling the Beanpot rivalry. He later took a wrister off the helmet from drill partner Weber, but was OK. Andrew Orpik knows what his role is on the ice. He likes to bull his body to the net, and drifts towards the corner and lower wall to make plays on the puck. It's a good mentality for a converted defenseman to have, and resulted in a goal during the 3-2's while on a line with Felix Schutz and Mark Van Guilder. I think he's a strong candidate to be signed next year. Eidsness was sharp this afternoon. Technically sound, he is rarely out of position while mature with his rebounds. In early warm-ups, he stopped most everything in the 1-0 and 2-0 skates. (The 1-0's are generally designed to get the goalie some rubber - i.e. shoot from beyond the hash - and the 2-0's get the goalie going laterally.) Nick Eno made some really nice saves in tight during 4-4 and 4-3 action. His legs are long and quick. His puckhandling skills could still use some work. After a centering pass exceeded the reach of a streaking forecheck, an Eno misplay towards a defenseman behind his own net resulted in him just getting back to stop an open Tyler Ennis. Ennis showed some craftiness today, using his quickness to fire high from all angles in an effort to keep the goalie honest. He likes to hold on to the puck, looking to shoot more than pass (from what I was able to take in today). Mike Card displayed more steady tendencies today. The plan is to not scrutinize his game until fall. Marc-Andre Gragnani is a puck handler with vision. He is likely needed on the blueline in Portland this season given the numbers, but with all things equal, his skill set suggests that he'd be best used at LW. For now, we'll pencil him closer to a Mark Streit than a Christoph Schubert. Felix Schutz is deceptive offensively, showing some polish with a couple quick snappers. We like his game, and are hoping for a solid two-way commitment in the AHL. Luke Adam again showed his effectiveness around the net in limited viewing. Every time I watch him, he does something positive. After stepping in front of Mike Card pass, he went down the ice late in the 4-3's to beat Enroth. We saw enough of him last season to know what we now have in house. Same with Paul Byron. He has great speed entering the zone, and falls into open spots to get into scoring position when he doesn't have the puck. Jordon Southorn was effective in drill work with Myers. He looks like a steady guy who has the skill to wheel it a bit when given space. I'm curious about his reaction to pressure in the defensive zone. Drew MacKenzie has the makings of a smart defender, but I spent more time watching others. I did see him get beat once by Byron. He's listed at 6'2, 200 pounds, yet the 6'1, 190-pound Butler appears much larger from the angles I've been viewing from. Jacob Lagace has yet to reveal much. He's battling his way offensively in drill work. He had trouble keeping up with Gerbe in 2-2's, but you see his overall talent level at work. Derek Whitmore continues to look like a serviceable AHL contributor. I haven't paid a ton of attention to him. He's 23, and there's a lot to cut through. Mike Kostka is showing solid basic skills. He's yet to get worked over, but I'm not putting any value in a development camp for the rookie free agent. We need to see him against the big forwards in training camp. Invitee Jacob Cepis continues to show effective speed on the outside. He's not out of place among the other smaller forwards. Nick Crawford skates well enough, and seems to handle the puck well. He doesn't look out of place. Invitee Brady Irwin continues to stand out among the invitees. A very swift skater down the wing, he used speed to beat Jhonas Enroth with a low wrister, and later deked him on a breakway. I didn't pay much attention to Enroth today, but he was giving up a few goals late in the session. He looked a little tired, but I spent the bulk of the time on the other side. For the second day in a row, I didn't look too deep at local invitee Vincent Scarsella. He seems to have solid hands and a creative side, but the eyes and pen have been busy elsewhere. By the way, I don't recall seeing Drew Stafford today. Mike Funk and Matt Generous were on the handout yesterday, but I've yet to see either on the ice. Rej Sekera was on the 2nd rink today, and is all set for top-6 action with Buffalo. I'm pretty much done worrying about him in this space. Same with Pat Kaleta. We'll report on who he tries to line up in the scrimmages, but that's about it. If I think of more, I'll add it to the comments. Overall, it's a really strong crop of prospects this summer. The revised Top 20 is sure to be a dandy.
6/27/2008 | 9 comments | Read More

Some more from the small pad

Written By Kris Baker on Thursday, June 26, 2008 | 6/26/2008

(Pardon the bullet/note format, as these are being sent in via a mobile device) Gogulla is so patient with the biscuit. He buys time and uses the boards well - eventually finding open space for a teammate to swoop in and carry on. In 4-4's, Gerbe just came breaking down the right side and did his spin-o-rama backhand from the hash - only to be stopped by Dennis. Schutz just made a fabulous thread the needle pass to a breaking Orpik on the way back. Eidsness stuffed the down low attempt. Orpik has made a few safe plays with the puck in the 4-4's. He looks to have improved his footwork since last summer. Eidsness is very strong in the shootout drills. Weber tried to do the Gerbe spin, but was stopped by Eidsness. Schiestel has impressive hands, quickly going high backhand in the shootout. His skating shined in the 3-3 portion. Kennedy is working hard. He's got some rough edges to his style and has had some issues getting in tight against big defenders today.
6/26/2008 | 8 comments | Read More

Over on the small pad

Simulated 3-2 settings here on the small pad. Excuse me, small seating area... Brennan is strong on his feet down low. Likes to rub the body. Gogulla sees the ice very well. He sent a pass to Gerbe in the high-slot. Gerbe buried it high glove past Eidsness. Weber is a man out here. He forced Kennedy all the way out of his end in a 3-2 drill. Butler isn't too far behind Weber. In fact, he is probably this year's Weber in that the Sabres are going to have a hard time keeping him down. Allard and Zagrapan just went roof on Eidsness. Eidsness moves really well and made some nice stops on Zagrapan and Gerbe. He should do good things with the Sioux. Gerbe is relentless when the puck is near. He has one of the thickest backhands I've ever seen - a good tool for a shifty player. Butler moves well in transition, and rocks a low, hard shot. Kostka looks very fluid. He and Schiestel skate very well, so now we need to see how they do physically in game speed. Boy, Allard has good mustard on his wrister. Biega is looking more nimble than last year. Not bad for a guy built like a mini-tank. Schutz is very crisp with his passes. I'd like to see more finish. Going 4-4 now. More soon.
6/26/2008 | 6 comments | Read More

First drill observations

Byron blows a tire on his first turn. Very deft with the puck otherwise. Enroth looks sharp in his movement. Swift side to side, covers space well in this 3-0 warmup drill. Stopped most of the pucks sent his way. Quick low shots were the ones that beat him. Eno is getting lit up early in drill #2. Improved greatly near the end. Nice glove. Not as agile as Jhonas. Tropp, Adam, Ennis, Byron have goal scorer written all over them. Again, these were merely undefended shooting drills. 1-1 and 2-1 drills Adam very good east-west mover entering the zone. Ennis has ridiculous wheels and makes good, quick decisions. He's a lot to handle. Byron beat Persson cleanly wide. Persson has trouble pivoting backwards. He fared better against Cepis. Myers is the real deal in terms of skating and skill. In a D posture, Gragnani crashed into the boards. Put him back at LW already. Irwin is a very impressive skater. Looks like a player. I'd like to see him in a game setting.
6/26/2008 | 4 comments | Read More

Away we go...

3:08 Dennis Persson is the first to the gate. For his prize, he gets to watch the 'boni roll around six times... 3:16 The rest of the team has joined Persson in the bench area. The sheet is clean, yet the arena waits. Maybe they're waiting for Michael Buffer to do the formal intros. 3:22 Cunney says let's go...
6/26/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Waiting for Ruffmen

2:50 After some calistenics behind the near-side goal, it looks like the troops should be hitting the ice in the next fifteen minutes or so... 2:54 The place is filling up quickly with parents and their kids...I wonder if people will be yelling "SHOOT!!!" like they do from the 300's during the regular season... 2:55 We have a George Babcock sighting...Nathan Gerbe and Chris Butler are hanging out in gym clothes on the bench. Maybe they won immunity or something, but it doesn't appear they're in a rush to get their gear on. Per the handout: Team Blue Gerbe-Zagrapan-Gogulla Kennedy-Hunter-Allard Van Guilder-Schutz-Orpik Vatri-Scarsella-Lagace Sekera-Myers MacKenzie-Card Southorn-Persson Gragnani-Generous Dennis Eidsness Team Gold Tropp-Byron-Stafford Ennis-Cepis-Whitmore Adam-Irwin-Kaleta Brennan-Crawford Butler-Weber Schiestel-Kostka Funk-Biega Enroth Eno
6/26/2008 | 4 comments | Read More

Heading up to Dwyer

SabresProspects will be cruising up to Niagara shortly for the day's practice session. We'll try to squeeze in some live entries, barring full cooperation from our trusty Q9C.
6/26/2008 | 1 comments | Read More

Sabres roll with proven system in Myers pick

Shea Weber, Josh Gorges, and Duncan Keith are a few NHL defensemen recently churned out of the Kelowna Rockets system. Along with fellow '08 Luke Schenn (chosen 5th overall), it's safe to say that Tyler Myers has the inside track to someday join his Rocket alumni on hockey's top stage.
“The Rockets have a long a history of doing their own work in drafting defenceman, developing them and getting them ready for the NHL,” said Regier, the Sabres GM. “We want to use their resources and it’s something we’ll take a lot of confidence in for the next year or two. In junior he’ll continue his development and then, we hope, become a very good pro with us. “He has a tremendous upside and we think there’s lots there to build on.” Myers became a key component in Buffalo’s future when the Sabres made him their first choice, 12th overall at Friday’s NHL draft in Ottawa. The lanky blue liner brings some obvious assets to the Sabres—size and reach among them—as well as being a particularly strong skater for a player of his dimensions. But at just 205 pounds, Myers will need to add considerable bulk and muscle before being ready for the next level. Myers knows his progression as a player and future with Buffalo will hinge on his own hard work and commitment. “I’ve still have lots of work to do and I know it’s a very hard league to crack,” said Myers. “I need to put on some weight. With my 6-7 frame it’s hard to do that, but you know this is a going to be big summer for me. I’m excited and happy to be part of the Sabres organization.”
While playing for the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL, the towering ex-Texan could easily be playing for the Houston Rockets instead.
Although 6-7 Buffalo Sabres draft pick Tyler Myers started his hockey career in a Texas youth league, he wonders if he might be playing in a different arena if he hadn't moved to Canada. "If I hadn't made the move, I would be holding a basketball right now down in Texas," Myers said, laughing. Myers started playing hockey after watching the Houston Aeros, and he became more immersed after his father moved the family to Alberta several years ago to continue his work in the oil business. Although the defenseman could play for Canada or the USA in international play, he recently said he'd play for Canada.
6/26/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Mankato bound, Jokinen looks to make impact

Wednesday's Mankato Free Press featured a nice article on the first of the Sabres two 4th round picks, Justin Jokinen. The 6'3, 185-pounder was unable to participate at this week's Development Camp due to his high school graduation party.
“I talked to a lot of scouts and a lot of people, and some guys told me he could possibly go as early as the second round,” Jokinen’s high school coach, Dave Esse, said. “I was a little disappointed that he went in the fourth round. ... But it’s all in the eye of the beholder. There’s someone out there for everybody. It’s like a dating service; you never know what they’ll like.” The only MSU-affiliated player selected this year, Jokinen ended up being the sixth Minnesota-born player selected and one of 22 future and current Western Collegiate Hockey Association players. “He’s a great kid,” Esse said. “It’s a perfect fit for him to go down to Mankato.” Over the last two seasons for the Cloquet-Esko-Carlton high school team, Jokinen scored 93 points. Last year, he was named team captain and Mr. Hockey finalist and led the Lumberjacks to a state-tournament berth. “I love to have the puck on my stick,” he said. “I like being a playmaker and scoring goals.”
6/26/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Enroth ready to play

Jhonas Enroth spoke with the Buffalo News yesterday after an on-ice session at the Sabres Development Camp.
Enroth feels he’s ready, which is why he signed a three-year, $1.9 million deal with the Sabres last month. There was nothing else to learn in Europe, where he led the Swedish league with a 2.13 goals-against average. “It felt like I played well in two good seasons at home,” Enroth said. “I feel like I had to make the next step.” Enroth, a confident netminder, saw his stock rise at the world junior championships in January when he backstopped Sweden to a silver medal. It led him to say that he could be with the Sabres next season. After a conversation with Corsi, he’s tempered his expectations. “Of course I want to play in the NHL, but it’s going to take time, maybe two years, three years in the minors,” Enroth said. “But I will be patient and wait for my time and try to get it.” The only disparaging things scouts say about Enroth is he may not have the size to be an elite NHL goalie. He’s 5-foot-10, 174 pounds in an era of crease patrollers who are routinely 6-2. But it takes more than just bulk to block a puck. It takes movement to get in front of it. “I know if I was 6-foot or something like that I would have probably gone in the first round,” Enroth said. “[A big guy] can use his body and just go down and block the shots. I have to react and think a little bit more, try to get a step before the shooter.”
6/26/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Byron, Myers, Ennis to join WJC hopefuls

Written By Kris Baker on Wednesday, June 25, 2008 | 6/25/2008

2007 sixth round pick Paul Byron with be joining 2008 first rounders Tyler Myers and Tyler Ennis at Team Canada's summer camp for the 2009 World Junior Championships.
Forty-five players will gather at the University of Ottawa for the five-day camp, the first chance for head coach Benoit Groulx and his staff to get a look at Canada’s hopefuls. The 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship runs from December 26th to January 5th in Ottawa
Michigan State's Corey Tropp has already received an invitation for Team USA's Evaluation Camp.
6/25/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Five invitees added to Development Camp roster

As practice sessions are set to get underway at the Sabres Development Camp, the team has added five names to the roster as camp invitees: Josh Vatri, RW (Kingston/OHL) Jacob Cepis, C (Bowling Green) Brady Irwin, C (Vermont) Mark Van Guilder, LW (Notre Dame) The list is rounded out by local talent, RW Vincent Scarsella of Canisius (Lackawanna). Mike Card has been added to the list after being omitted from the initial roster release, while unsigned Benjamin Breault is not in camp and is officially done with Buffalo.
6/25/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Sabres select Nick Crawford at #164

Written By Kris Baker on Saturday, June 21, 2008 | 6/21/2008

With their final pick in the NHL draft, the Sabres keep their OHL streak alive by taking Nick Crawford of the Saginaw Spirit in the 6th round. A 6'1, 190-pound defenseman, Crawford tallied four goals and 20 points this past season. The Caledon, ON native also chipped in with a goal and an assist in four playoff games. He makes good offensive decisions and can jump into the play, but his average skating ability limits some of those chances. For those wondering, he had zero fighting majors in 2007-08. Crawford was unranked by CSS entering the draft. With the pick, the Regier-era Sabres have now chosen a player from the OHL in every draft they've conducted.
6/21/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Sabres select Jacob Lagacé at #134

Buffalo has selected 5'11, 190-pound Jacob Lagacé in the 5th round. As expected, the Sabres have continued to rely on the QMJHL on Day Two. The hard-nosed winger had 23 goals in 2007-08 with Chicoutimi while skating on a line with '08 second rounder, Nicolas Deschamps. The 62 total points in his first QMJHL season were good for fourth in Q rookie scoring, leading the St. Hyacinthe, QC native to finish as the 55th best North American skater on Central Scouting's rankings despite a less than favorable showing at the U18's in Kazan. A very hard worker who makes smart plays, Lagacé employs a style befitting a much larger player. He spends time on both special teams units, and is expected to be a key performer for the Sagueneens next season. He may very well develop into a draft day steal if his strength ever comes around. From the NHL Draft site:
SCOUTING REPORT NHL Central Scouting's Chris Bordeleau "He played on Canada's Under-18 team and deservedly so. Jacob is a good skater and another player who came out of nowhere this season after I saw him quite a bit as an underage player last season. He has good hands – he's not a big player, but he could surprise people if he continues to work hard and improve his game."
6/21/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Sabres select Jordon Southorn at #104

The Sabres have again found decent value with the addition of D Jordon Southorn in the 4th round. A rangy player with good offensive upside, the Montreal native went 12-19-31 with 70 PIMs for PEI last season. At 6'2, 190-pounds, Southorn was considered by some to be a top-4 QMJHL defender heading into this draft primarily because of his "two-way" projection. Southorn advances the puck well, using both a crisp first pass and a style which makes him very comfortable carrying it. Coachable and dedicated, the lefty needs to gain a higher level of consistency. While not extremely physical, "Southy" will drop the mitts when necessary. He still needs to add to his defensive zone play, but overall we like the pick. He brings some leadership to the table, and his frame has quite a bit of potential.
6/21/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Sabres select Justin Jokinen at #101

The Sabres used the pick acquired from Los Angeles to select 6'3, 185-pound C Justin Jokinen from Cloquet (Minn HS). Equally apt to pass or finish, Jokinen initially made waves as a junior, scoring 51 points while skating on alone with Colorado College forward Tyler Johnson. With Johnson in college, Jokinen's production dropped to 39 points as a senior this past season, but this isn't a "buyer beware" situation. Heading to Minnesota State this fall, the dedicated Jokinen projects to be a middle-line winger at the NHL level. With his frame filling out the next few seasons, Jokinen will continue to add polish to his physical, playmaking style. The Sabres should have a big, strong winger to plug into their future plans. From the NHL Draft site:
NHL Central Scouting's Jack Barzee "Justin moved to center this year and he ended up carrying his team to the State tournament. He is tall and skinny right now, but he's a lot like Jamie Langenbrunner was at that age, with a little bit different intensity than Langenbrunner had. When Justin kicks that intensity up he has that snap and finesse that allows him to make big plays. He can come down on the defenseman, use him as a screen and snap the puck off to surprise the goalie. He's one of those guys that has the uncanny ability to put the puck in the net – I think he can be a goal scorer at any level – he just needs to get stronger." Cloquet-Carlton head coach David Esse "Justin is one of the best athletes I have ever coached over the past 18 years. He makes everyone around him better and has such a passion and love of the game."
6/21/2008 | 3 comments | Read More

Sabres select Corey Fienhage at #81

(This is getting a little scary. If you're scoring at home, the SabresProspects mock has now nailed the Sabres 2nd and 3rd round selections.) After trading the 74th pick to Los Angeles in exchange for #'s 81 and 101, the Sabres addressed another organizational need by adding tough defenseman Corey Fienhage in the third round. A rough customer, Fienhage will drop the gloves and clear a crease. His mindset is very similar to fellow Sabres prospect, Mike Weber. From our Draft Preview:
The wildcard in this spot just might be the athletic Fienhage (pronounced fin-a-gee). At 6'2, 190-lbs, the fleet-footed blueliner will be heading to North Dakota in 2009. An aggressive defender, scouts took notice with his ability to play "big" in a brief USHL stint after his Minnesota HS season ended. A safety on his high school football team, the scrappy right-hander may need another year before entering the NCAA, but his package is something that the Sabres could use more of. Keep your eyes peeled for his name as Draft Combine reports come out.
From the NHL Draft site:
NHL Central Scouting's Jack Barzee "Corey is an aggressive and tough player. He's a great skater with a good wrist shot and big shot from the point. He is really aware of his defensive responsibilities, always looking over his shoulder. He's going to be a warrior. He has a little bit of Coyotes' defenseman Ed Jovanovski in him and there won't be too many people who will want to play against him when he gets going." Eastview hockey head coach, Drey Bradley "Corey loves the physical game. He is a very strong skater, has great feet, balance and agility. He was the top defenseman in the Lake conference – the strongest in the defensive zone, especially the corners, and he makes good decisions with the puck."
6/21/2008 | 2 comments | Read More

Sabres select Luke Adam at #44

The Buffalo Sabres opened the second round by addressing a need for size down the middle with the selection of 6'2, 203-pound Luke Adam out of St. John's in QMJHL. Adam is trouble for defenders, using his big frame and soft hands to make things happen down low. He's very tough with the puck on his stick, and has a knack for pounding home rebounds. Adam simply has a passion for scoring, netting 36 goals en route to a team-best 66 points last season in St. John's. From our Draft Preview:
The barreling Adam is one of our favorite players in the draft. He goes hard at both ends, and was the leading scorer for St. John's this past season. With an Owen Nolan/Rick Nash type game, he's a responsible, soft-handed scorer who likes use his 6'2, 200-pound body to bang and create. His skating has prevented him from entering the elite tier of forwards.
Don't make too much of the skating knock. It's only mentioned as a reason why he's not a first round player. When you see him in action, you quickly realize that it doesn't impede him being an effective player. Competitive but not overly aggressive, some simple attention to his feet will help him carry the pace of the NHL game. We said the same thing about Mike Weber when he was a second rounder. We have enjoyed scouting Adam this past season while tracking the progress of his Fog Devil mates, and fellow Sabres prospects, T.J. Brennan and J.S. Allard. A certain NHL forward, we feel that this pick really brings the draft together early. After selecting Myers and Ennis, he was the player we wanted in the spot we wanted, and Sabres fans shouldn't be happier. From the NHL Draft Site: NHL Central Scouting's Chris Bordeleau
"Luke has really improved over the season. He is a big player and sometimes big guys take longer to grow into their skating. The upside on Luke is pretty high, he plays big, and he can score."
6/21/2008 | 1 comments | Read More

Sabres select Tyler Ennis at #26

Written By Kris Baker on Friday, June 20, 2008 | 6/20/2008

Already nabbing the tallest Tyler in the draft in Myers, the Sabres opted for another Tyler (Ennis) - this one nearly a foot shorter than his WHL counterpart. Tyler Ennis is an absolute sparkplug on the ice. Instant, explosive offense is on tap every time the puck hits his stick. Coming from the same Medicine Hat program that developed fellow Sabre Clarke MacArthur, Ennis led the Tigers with 43 goals and 48 assists in 70 games this past season. (MacArthur's best season in the WHL produced 75 points.) At 5'8, it's no surprise that the Edmonton native has modeled his game after former Buffalo favorite, Daniel Briere. The popular opinion is that his drive and passion for the game will allow him to beat the odds much like Briere, who himself was a gifted scorer in juniors and lasted all the way to pick #24 back in 1996. From the NHL Draft site:
NHL Director of Central Scouting, E.J. McGuire Strengths: "Tyler is a quick, 'water-bug'-type player. He scoots up and down the ice and can turn on a dime. He can drive wide on a defenseman who is unaware or a little slow. Tyler may be one of the best pure offensive players in the entire draft." Outlook: "Getting bigger is not something within his control, he's done everything as far as his quickness and offensive development and now I think that it is just ready for him to show it at the next level." Medicine Hat GM and head coach Willie Desjardins "He's so, so fast. I think he's one of the toughest guys in the league to handle. He wants to score so bad on every shift and Tyler's quickness down low in the corner is why he's so hard to handle."
6/20/2008 | 4 comments | Read More

Sabres select Tyler Myers at #13

Sitting at the 13th spot heading into the draft, the Sabres traded that pick and a third rounder in 2009 to move up one spot to select D Tyler Myers of Kelowna in the WHL. With Sabres Western scout Kim Gellert embedded with the Rockets the past two seasons, the team has had close eyes on the developing talent. The tallest ranked player by CSS (#4 North American), the 6'7 Myers is an awesome skater for a player of his height. (Gellert coaching expertise lays in stickhandling and skating.) He has Zdeno Chara's reach and offensive vision, but doesn't possess the edginess that has made the Bruins defender one of the toughest competitors in the league. He reacted positively after getting in his first fight this season, saying that he wanted to do it more often. Still, Myers is considered somewhat of a project with his #12 position built more on potential than anything else. Myers was born in Houston, TX, but moved to Alberta at age 10. He has excellent hands, and plays a simple game in his own end. Myers netted six goals and 19 total points to go along with 97 PIMs for the Rockets last season. From the NHL Draft site:
NHL Director of Central Scouting, E.J. McGuire Strengths: "His height differentiates him from the rest of the draft-eligible defensemen – he towers above all the other players. He is not often burned by the small, quick players and because of the emphasis in today's NHL on a lack of restraining type of play, I think Tyler has adjusted well to that and is more ready to play in the new NHL than a lot of the other smaller players." Areas to improve: "Improvements can be made with his continued maturity. I don't know that he needs to work on anything other than continuing to work on foot speed, continuing to work on coordination. He's got a rocket shot from the point on the power-play and that is never going to leave him." Outlook: "Tyler is the tallest player among the top-rated players. As a defenseman, that height translates into a great poke-check and great stick work. At 6'7", he still has a little bit of growing into his body to do. Obviously comparisons are made to Zdeno Chara, who, it has been said, actually as a junior stumbled when he played for St. George. There may be a night when the large feet of Myers get in his way a little bit, but to hear scouts talk, they won't get in his way for very many more years." Kelowna Rockets head coach Ryan Huska "The one thing with Tyler is that his size is something that you can't teach. He's very big and for a guy his size, he skates very well. He's very fluid on the ice. For a younger guy, he's got a lot of composure with the puck. I think that's one of the reasons why a lot of NHL scouts are fairly high on him right now ... he's starting to understand that he can use his size to his advantage in our own zone. He's becoming a really good player defensively. His stick is so good and he makes it very difficult for opponents to get around him in the defensive zone."
6/20/2008 | 9 comments | Read More

NHL Draft - Live Round One Results

1) Tampa Bay - Steven Stamkos, C (Sarnia - OHL) No surprise here. A Joe Sakic/Steve Yzerman type, Stamkos will be surrounded by a new coaching staff, and talented vets Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis to guide him to early success. 2) Los Angeles - Drew Doughty, D (Guelph - OHL) What do you do when scouts start questioning your commitment? You lose 25 pounds, and promise to shed more. Now at 5'11, 200-pounds, Doughty is a offensive defenseman who should play in the NHL next season. 3) Atlanta - Zach Bogosian, D (Peterborough - OHL) Mean, competitive and very steady, Bogosian could be the biggest superstar in this draft. Entering tonight, he was our "#1 Player You Trade Up To Get". 4) St. Louis - Alex Pietrangelo, D (Niagara - OHL) Petro had his season end early with a lacerated spleen, but not before using his 6'3, 210-pound frame to rush the puck, steady his end, and be an overall, two-way force. He notched 20 points in his last 11 games before the injury. Teammates refer to him as "Chris Pronger without the edge". 5) Toronto (from NY Islanders) - Luke Schenn, D (Kelowna - WHL) After swapping picks (and a 2nd and extra 2nd/3rd) with the Isles, the Leafs get their franchise defender in the first round. A nasty, shut down defenseman, Schenn personifies the rugged Western style that Toronto fans are going to love for years. 6) Columbus - Nikita Filatov, RW (CSKA Moscow - RSL) A speedy, smart finisher, Filatov is the first Russian off the board. Fluent in English and commitment free in Russia, the skilled Filatov is ready to make the jump to North America to play in either the NHL or CHL next season. Best player on the board at #6, hands down. 7) Nashville (from NY Islanders) - Colin Wilson, C (Boston University - NCAA) The Isles trade down again, allowing Nashville to get their man. NHL bloodlines are hard at work with Wilson. A point a game player with BU, Wilson had six goals in six games with Team USA at the World Juniors. Head Scout Paul Fenton saw plenty of Terrier hockey, and makes a nice, safe pick here for the Preds. 8) Phoenix - Mikkel Boedker, LW (Kitchener - OHL) After a sigh of relief from Yotes scout Keith Gretzky, brother Wayne makes Boedker the highest Dane ever drafted in the NHL. A speedy goal scorer, the slick winger displayed equal playmaking aptitude in the Rangers Memorial Cup run. Pretty much chalk on the selection front to this point. Still - five OHLers already gone. Wow. 9) NY Islanders - Josh Bailey, C (Windsor - OHL) A solid, two-way forward, Bailey can distribute the puck with the best of them. His 67 assists were 2nd best in the entire CHL. One of the safest picks in the draft, the Isles traded down twice and passed over some excellent talents to secure the player they wanted most. 10) Vancouver - Cody Hodgson C (Brampton - OHL) A true competitor, Hodgson is a gifted scorer who can be a heart and soul guy a few years down the road for the Canucks. We really like this pick for Vancouver, as leadership will be thin by the time Hodgson arrives. Seven of the top 10 picks for the OHL. Unreal. 11) Chicago - Kyle Beach, C (Everett) The bad boy wildcard of the draft, Beach will head to Chi-town to toughen up the forward ranks with star youngsters Pat Kane and Jonathan Toews. Hits, fights, agitates, scores. Attitude issues were a red flag for many teams, but you cannot argue his thick shot and hard nosed style near the cage. Beach could very well be a 40 goal guy in the NHL with 200 PIMs if groomed correctly. 12) Buffalo (from Los Angeles) - Tyler Myers, D (Kelowna - WHL) Needing defense in the system, the Sabres pass over SabresProspects.com choice of Luca Sbisa and hard-nosed Colten Teubert to take the 6'7 Myers. Myers is an excellent skater with good hands, but needs to use his large frame more to his advantage. 13) Los Angeles (from Buffalo) - Colten Teubert, D (Regina - WHL) The meanest SOB in the draft, the Kings add another stud defender to the stable after earlier taking Doughty. There's no one in the WHL who hates Kyle Beach more, and the two will continue their love affair for years in the Western Conference. 14) Carolina - Zach Boychuk, RW (Lethbridge - WHL) A creative scorer, Boychuk scored 11 goals in the WHL playoffs this past season for Lethbridge. Boychuk is very athletic, and has enough ability to overcome a size bias associated with his 5'10, 175-pound frame. 15) Ottawa (from Nashville) - Erik Karlsson, D (Frolunda, Sweden) Sens captain Daniel Alfredsson arrives to the podium to select the swift moving countryman in Karlsson. A world class puck carrier, the smallish Swede generates offense from the back end and was worth the move up from #18 to get. Quickest riser in the first round. 16) Boston - Joe Colborne, C (Camrose - AJHL) A tall, skilled playmaker, Colborne can dominate offensively but sometimes disappears. The Canadian Junior "A" Player of the Year will be attending University of Denver in the fall, where he'll hope to fill out his frame, and in time develop the physical aspects of his game. 17) Anaheim (from Calgary) - Jake Gardiner, D (Minnetonka - Minn. HS) Minnesotan Brian Burke goes back home to select the tall, swift skating defenseman with a deadly wrister. Heading to Wisconsin this fall. 18) Nashville (from Ottawa) - Chet Pickard, G (Tri-City - WHL) The Preds need to focus on the draft to re-build, and Pickard gives them a strong goaltending prospect to work around. 19) Philadelphia (from Colorado) - Luca Sbisa, D (Lethbridge - WHL) And our targeted defenseman goes to the Flyers. The Swiss defender made a smooth transition to the WHL, but disappointed some scouts on the international stage at the WJC's. A two-way mover, Sbisa carries a nice shot and a subtle physical edge that should appeal to Philly fans. 20) NY Rangers - Michael Del Zotto, D (Oshawa - OHL) 21) Washington (from New Jersey) - Anton Gustafsson, C (Frolunda - Swe Jr.) 22) Edmonton (from Anaheim) - Jordan Eberle, RW (Regina - WHL) 23) Minnesota (from Washington) - Tyler Cuma, D (Ottawa - OHL) 24) New Jersey (from Minnesota) - Mattias Tedenby, LW (HV71 - Swe Jr.) 25) Calgary (from Montreal) - Greg Nemisz, C (Windsor - WHL) 26) Buffalo (from San Jose) - Tyler Ennis, LW (Medicine Hat - WHL) 27) Washington (from Philadelphia) - John Carlson, D (Indiana - USHL) 28) Phoenix (from Dallas) - Viktor Tikhonov, F (Russia) 29) Atlanta - Daulton Leveille, C (St. Catharines - OHA) 30) Detroit - Thomas McCollum, G (Guelph - OHL)
6/20/2008 | 13 comments | Read More

Sabres looking at Atkinson

We like to corroborate "good info". As speculated in last night's draft projection, the Sabres have indeed expressed interest in BC-bound forward, Cam Atkinson.

A New York Rangers fan, Atkinson said the Washington Capitals have been the most aggressive team that has scouted him. The Florida Panthers, New York Islanders, Buffalo Sabres, Pittsburgh Penguins, Columbus Blue Jackets and Colorado Avalanche have also expressed interest in Atkinson, who was the prep school league's second-leading scorer last season. If Atkinson is drafted, the team that selects him will evaluate him and decide where he fits in within the organization.

The determined Atkinson, 19, plays with speed and hustle on every shift. At 5'8, 165-pounds, his small yet wide frame goes hard into the corners, and with a scorer's touch, just might conjure up images of another diminutive icer from Chestnut Hill - Nathan Gerbe.
6/20/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

2008 NHL Mock; Sabres Projections

Written By Kris Baker on Thursday, June 19, 2008 | 6/19/2008

There's time to kill while waiting for the Stamkos call. Let's serve it up. NHL Mock, Round One 1) Tampa Bay - Steven Stamkos 2) Los Angeles - Zach Bogosian 3) Atlanta - Nikita Filatov 4) St. Louis - Drew Doughty 5) NY Islanders - Luke Schenn 6) Columbus - Alex Pietrangelo 7) Toronto - Mikkel Boedker 8) Phoenix - Colin Wilson 9) Nashville - Kyle Beach 10) Vancouver - Mattias Tedenby 11) Chicago - Tyler Myers 12) Anaheim - Cody Hodgson 13) Buffalo - Luca Sbisa 14) Carolina - Zac Dalpe 15) Nashville - Zach Boychuk 16) Boston - John Carlson 17) Calgary - Jordan Eberle 18) Ottawa - Joshua Bailey 19) Columbus - Joe Colborne 20) NY Rangers - Michael Del Zotto 21) New Jersey - Chet Pickard 22) Edmonton - Tyler Ennis 23) Washington - Kirill Petrov 24) Minnesota - Aaron Ness 25) Montreal - Maxime Sauve 26) Buffalo - Anton Gustaffson 27) Philadelphia - Colten Teubert 28) Los Angeles - Tyler Cuma 29) Atlanta - Mikhail Stefanovich 30) Detroit - Brandon Burlon
44) Buffalo - Luke Adam 74) Buffalo - Corey Fienhage 104) Buffalo - Brett Theberge 134) Buffalo - Cam Atkinson 164) Buffalo - Michael Hutchinson
6/19/2008 | 4 comments | Read More

A few more mocks to chew on...

ESPN
13. Buffalo Sabres Josh Bailey, C, Windsor (OHL)The Sabres have drafted other positions the past two years and lost Daniel Briere and Chris Drury via free agency before the 2007-08 season. An upgrade down the middle is desperately needed. Zach Boychuk is a possibility here. Bailey has pro size, though, and could be more physical.

26. Buffalo Sabres (from San Jose) Luca Sbisa, D, Lethbridge (WHL) Swiss pro-sized defenseman played better as the season went on.

Kyle Woodlief (Redline Report) 13 (Buffalo) - Josh Bailey. With Daniel Briere and Chris Drury long gone and Tim Connolly always injured, they've got to get their hands on a traditional playmaking center to distribute the puck to their talented young snipers on the wing. 26 (Buffalo) - Michael Del Zotto. He can be groomed as an offensive blue liner to replace Brian Campbell and run the PP. Jim Kelley (Sportsnet) No. 13 Buffalo Sabres: D, Luca Sbisa, Lethbridge The Sabres have a desperate need for a centre and perhaps an eventual replacement for goalie Ryan Miller whom they may have trouble signing, but the biggest problem is on the back end and barring a trade to move up (the Sabres have this pick and the 26th for having sent Brian Campbell to San Jose at the deadline) they'll go here. Sbisa is a Swiss native, but he played his junior hockey in Lethbridge. Nothing flashy, but solid in all areas and a possible replacement for Dimitri Kalinin whom the Sabres let go in part because of a contract dispute and in part because head coach Lindy Ruff tired of the Russian's inconsistent play. No. 26 Buffalo Sabres (from S.J.): D, Tyler Cuma, Ottawa A converted forward just like his coach, Lindy Ruff. A character guy like his coach and a no problem guy just like his coach wants. Not the best prospect, but hey, that's what you get when you scout off tips and TV. Mark Seidel (The Hockey News) 13. Buffalo Sabres – Colin Wilson, C; Boston University (NCAA) The run on defensemen in the top 10 means Wilson, a probable future captain, could fall to the Sabres. The son of former NHLer Carey Wilson, Colin’s play at the World Junior Championship showed he is able to dominate offensively, while still playing as a lock-down defender. 26. Buffalo Sabres –Jake Gardiner, D; Minnetonka (MN-HS) A personal favorite, it’d be shocking if Gardiner is still on the board at No. 26. But if he is, the Sabres will be pleased to get him. He is one of the best pure skaters in the draft and can use that ability to move the puck out of trouble much like a certain defender Sabres fans fell in love with before he headed to San Jose at the deadline. Allan Muir (Sports Illustrated)

13) Buffalo Sabres - Mattias Tedenby, left wing, HV71 Juniors (Sweden)

Central Scouting says: "Mattias is excellent on every shift. He has outstanding speed, stick work and work ethic. He is small but fearless -- he takes hits and always comes back. He creates scoring chances with his outstanding skating."

Our take: The Sabres would probably like to add some size at this position, but tiny Tedenby (5-9, 161) is impossible to pass over. Earning comparisons to Saku Koivu thanks to his speed and competitive drive, he has the potential to mature into an impact scorer in the NHL.

26) Buffalo Sabres - Jake Gardiner, defense, Minnetonka (USHS)

Central Scouting says: "He might be one of the best skaters in the draft. [A converted forward], he is smart with the puck, unselfish and careful. He is dynamic when he grabs the puck and goes. He has a very quick dangerous wrist shot -- he gets it away like Joe Sakic does."

Our take: After taking the BPA with their first pick, the Sabres can address an organizational need with Gardiner: size. Though he's got a lot of filling out to do at just 170 pounds, his build suggests he'll pack another 30-40 on his 6-2 frame in time. His hockey sense has been questioned by some, but it may simply be a matter of experience and coaching before it catches up with the rest of his tools. Gardiner will attend the University of Wisconsin next season.

6/19/2008 | 1 comments | Read More

THN mock tabs Eberle, Carlson

Written By Kris Baker on Tuesday, June 17, 2008 | 6/17/2008

With Friday's draft proceedings on the horizon, the Hockey News went ahead and released their 2008 1st round mock.
13. Buffalo selects Jordan Eberle, C (Regina) The Sabres had much of their success using small, skilled players and Eberle is indeed one of those. He’s also courageous and durable enough to make his size a non-issue. 26. Buffalo selects John Carlson, D (Indiana) The recently inked London Knight is already NHL-sized, plus he boasts power play quarterback skills. The Sabres won’t be the only team gunning for him on draft day.
In our draft preview, the two are flip-flopped with Carlson in the first bucket at #13, and Eberle in the second bucket at #26. Eberle's puck carrying ability and overall skill level are considered top-notch, making him worthy of having his name called at #13 or #26. The 5'10 scorer is very confident in his offensive game, with 100 points next season as a Regina Pat certainly within reach. Honing his skills for one more season in the WHL will make for a battle tested pivot. Carlson is an offensive blueliner who controls things in his own end. Covering the ice well, his frame and shot have left some scouts referring to him as a "certain pro". We actually like his decision to enter the OHL to condition himself mentally with a full schedule. If available at #26, he should be considered the best player on the board.
6/17/2008 | 2 comments | Read More

Tropp heading to USA Evaluation Camp

Written By Kris Baker on Monday, June 16, 2008 | 6/16/2008

Corey Tropp, Buffalo's third round pick in 2007, has been chosen to skate in the 2008 U.S. National Jr. Evaluation Camp that will be held in Lake Placid, NY on August 1st-9th. A sophomore at Michigan State in the fall, Tropp is one of 53 players identified as candidates for USA's entry in the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championships. The Grosse Pointe, MI native scored six goals and 17 total points in 42 games as freshman in 2007-08, and is expected to be a key contributor for the Spartans after the early departure of leading scorer and fellow Sabres prospect, Tim Kennedy.
6/16/2008 | 2 comments | Read More

Sabres release Prospect Camp dates and roster

The Sabres will hold their annual Prospect Development Camp on June 25th-July 1st at Dwyer Arena on the campus of Niagara University.

The seven-day camp will feature a roster of 30 Sabres prospects, including recently signed college draft picks Nathan Gerbe, Tim Kennedy and Chris Butler. Also in attendance will be Drew Stafford, along with goaltender Jhonas Enroth and defensman Dennis Persson. This will be the first appearance in North America for both players since signing with the Sabres in early June. The players will take part in both on-ice and off-ice workouts. The goals of the camp are to give the prospective players the fundamental ideas of the Sabres playing system and the conditioning programs of an NHL player. The camp participants will also study and examine NHL rules and the successful techniques a player must possess to become a professional athlete.

On ice sessions will run from 3-5PM daily. Below is the preliminary camp roster. Keep in mind that at least the North American-based players that are drafted this weekend should be hitting the ice with the current crop. There are no free agent invitees this time around, unless you're counting QMJHL forward, Benjamin Breault (207th overall, 2006). It appears he is still scheduled to participate despite his re-entry into the draft this weekend after not signing a contract with Buffalo before June 1st. It's also worth noting that Drew Stafford is slated to participate even though he's a full time NHLer at this juncture. BUFFALO SABRES 2008-09 DEVELOPMENT CAMP ROSTER FORWARD Allard, Jean-Simon C 6-2 195 R St. Bruno, Quebec 5-24-89 St. John’s (QMJHL) Breault, Benjamin C 5-10 183 L Pembroke, Ontario 2-21-88 Baie-Comeau (QMJHL) Byron, Paul C 5-9 144 L Ottawa, Ontario 4-27-89 Gatineau (QMJHL) Gerbe, Nathan C 5-5 160 L Oxford, MI 7-24-87 Boston College (NCAA) Gogulla, Philipp LW 6-2 176 L Dusseldorf, Germany 7-31-87 Cologne (DEL) Hunter, Dylan LW 6-0 198 L Quebec City, Quebec 5-21-85 Rochester (AHL) Kaleta, Patrick RW 5-11 195 R Buffalo, New York 6-8-86 Buffalo Sabres Kennedy, Tim LW 5-10 176 L Buffalo, NY 4-30-86 Michigan St. (NCAA) Orpik, Andrew RW 6-3 200 R Amherst, NY 3-12-86 Boston College (NCAA) Schutz, Felix C 5-11 187 L Erding, Germany 11-3-87 Ingolstadt ERC (DEL) Stafford, Drew RW 6-1 202 R Milwaukee, Wisconson 10-30-85 Buffalo Sabres Tropp, Corey RW 6-0 185 R Grosse Pointe, MI 7-25-89 Michigan St. (NCAA) Whitmore, Derek LW 5-11 185 L Rochester, NY 12-17-84 Rochester (AHL) Zagrapan, Marek C 6-1 198 L Presov, Czechoslovakia 12-6-86 Rochester (AHL) DEFENSE Brennan, TJ D 6-0 204 L Willingboro, NJ 4-3-89 St. John’s (QMJHL) Biega, Alex D 5-10 191 L Montreal, Quebec 2-21-88 Harvard (NCAA) Butler, Chris D 6-1 178 L St. Louis, MO 5-23-86 U of Denver (NCAA) Funk, Michael D 6-4 199 L Abbotsford, B.C. 8-15-86 Rochester (AHL) Generous, Matt D 6-3 185 R Methuen, MA 5-5-85 St. Lawrence (NCAA) Gragnani, Marc-Andre D 6-2 192 L Montreal, Quebec 3-11-87 Rochester (AHL) Kostka, Mike D 6-2 210 R Ajax, ON 11-28-85 Rochester (AHL) MacKenzie, Drew D 6-2 200 L Stamford, CT 12-17-88 Waterloo (USHL) Persson, Dennis D 6-1 181 L Nykoping, Sweden 6-2-88 Nykoping (Sweden 1) Schiestel, Drew D 6-1 180 R Hamilton, Ontario 3-9-89 Niagara (OHL) Sekera, Andrej D 6-0 200 L Bojnice, Czechoslovakia 6-8-86 Buffalo Sabres Weber, Mike D 6-2 199 L Pittsburgh, PA 12-16-87 Rochester (AHL) GOALTENDER Dennis, Adam G 5-11 183 L Toronto, Ontario 2-8-85 Rochester (AHL) Eidsness, Brad G 5-11 190 L Chestermere, Alberta 6-2-89 Okotoks (AJHL) Eno, Nick G 6-3 190 L Howell, Michigan 2-12-89 Bowling Green (NCAA) Enroth, Jhonas G 5-10 174 L Stockholm, Sweden 6-25-88 Sodertalje (Sweden)
6/16/2008 | 9 comments | Read More

A look at the mocks

Written By Kris Baker on Sunday, June 15, 2008 | 6/15/2008

This time next week, the Sabres will have some shiny new faces scrambling about, packing their bags for a visit to Western New York for their initial Sabres Prospects Camp. With the annual harvest commencing on Friday, let's comb the web to see who some of the other sites think the Sabres will be selecting with their picks. MyNHLDraft.com 13 - Luca Sbisa 26 - Joe Colborne Hockey.com 13 - Luca Sbisa 26 - Jake Gardiner NHLDraftSite.com 13 - Colten Teubert 26 - Viktor Tikhonov 44- Brett Theberge 74 - Jacob DeSerres 104 - Geordie Wudrick 134 - Philip Riefers 164 - Soren Sturm Future Considerations 13 - Joshua Bailey 26 - Mikhail Stefanovich HFBoards Moderator Two-Round 13 - Luca Sbisa 26 - Aaron Ness 44 - Luke Adam HockeysFuture Radio 13 - Joe Colborne 26 - Jacob Markstrom Going Five Hole 13 - Cody Hodgson 26 - Jacob Markstrom ESPN 13 - Colten Teubert Hockey Trade Rumors 13 - Luke Schenn 26 - A.J. Jenks Draft Nation 13 - Luca Sbisa 26 - Jacob Markstom SabresProspects agrees with Sbisa at #13, but is having a hard time understanding why anyone would have them picking a goaltender at #26. This draft is stacked at the skating positions, and with Enroth in the fold it would be fair to give Eidsness and Eno another season to show their wares before adding another high pick to the stable. See another Mock Draft? Feel free to add it to the comments section.
6/15/2008 | 15 comments | Read More

Persson to Timra confirmed

Written By Kris Baker on Wednesday, June 11, 2008 | 6/11/2008

As speculated, recently signed defenseman Dennis Persson will be heading back to the SEL in 2008-09 to play with Timra. It's expected he'll skate at least one full season in the top Swedish league before making a full run at a North American gig in the fall of 2009.
6/11/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Enroth talks summer plans, Buffalo

Written By Kris Baker on Saturday, June 7, 2008 | 6/07/2008

Below is the best translation of a brief interview that Jhonas Enroth did with HockeySverige this week.
Jhonas Enroth, 19, goalkeeper From Sodertalje to Buffalo Sabres (former club: Huddinge IK) What will be your first goal when you come to camp and the NHL? -- In the first instance to play as good as possible and to make a good impression on the people in the organization. If you do not take place directly in the NHL, then select games in the AHL or Elitserien? -- I will play in the AHL in that case since I have no elitserien contract. What do you know about the Sabres? -- The first goalie Ryan Miller is known quite well, but it is not clear who will be backup, although I think the team will sign someone like David Aebischer or another. I have been in Buffalo in the past and the city and the team seems equally good organization. But in general, I know no one on the team except Dennis Persson. But I read on your website yesterday that he will be lent to a Swedish club the first year. Although some feel safe again some of the other guys from past camps. When do you go over? -- On June 24, I go over to a summer camp for a week, but then no date is clear. Even though it is well at the end of August, I can imagine. What are your summer plans until then? -- I train myself in the morning and with the Huddinge IK in the afternoon, so my summer will most probably consist of training.
While we're not sure if David Aebischer is going to be the Sabres backup in 2008-09, we at least have a good idea of when the Summer Prospects Camp is going to be.
6/07/2008 | 5 comments | Read More

Allard to Remparts

A major deal was pulled off this morning at the QMJHL Entry Draft, as Montreal (formerly St. John's) traded J.S. Allard and a package of picks to the Quebec Remparts for Angelo Esposito (ATL). Allard, chosen 147th overall last summer by the Sabres, had 16 goals and 44 assists last season for the Fog Devils. Surely, le Junior are looking to make a splash in their first season in Montreal by picking up hometown boy Esposito, who was selected 20th overall by Pittsburgh in 2007. Along with Allard, they also gave up first, third and fifth round selections in 2008 as well as a first round pick in 2009.
6/07/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Breault gets new club...in the Q

Written By Kris Baker on Friday, June 6, 2008 | 6/06/2008

Recently cut loose by the Sabres, QMJHL forward Benjamin Breault has been traded from Baie-Comeau to Quebec for the 2008-09 season. Cape Breton Post
The Marshall deal was among a number of trades swung by head coach and general manager Patrick Roy. He also acquired overage goaltender Charles Lavigne from the Moncton Wildcats in exchange for a fourth-round pick in 2009. The Remparts also acquired centre Benjamin Breault from the Baie-Comeau Drakkar and a third-round pick in 2009 for Felix Petit and a second-round pick (No. 33) in Saturday's draft.
And with this, it looks like the Breault file will be officially closed here at SabresProspects.
6/06/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Sabres ink Persson

Written By Kris Baker on Tuesday, June 3, 2008 | 6/03/2008

The Sabres signing frenzy continues. Enter Dennis Persson. Chosen 24th overall in 2006, the Swede gets a three-year deal... From the Sabres:
Persson (6/2/1988, 6’1”, 181 lbs.) split last season between Djurgarden of the Swedish Elite League, and Nykoping of the Swedish second tier league. Persson recorded one assist and 6 PIMs in 21 games with Djurgarden, and added four points (1+3) and 14 PIMs with Nykoping. For his career Persson has one point in 30 Elite League games with Djurgarden, along with 14 points (5+9) in 72 second tier league games with Nykoping, Vasteras and Almtuna. Persson represented Sweden at the 2006 World Junior Championships, and was considered the team’s most consistent defenseman with six points (1+5) in five games.
6/03/2008 | 2 comments | Read More

Buffalo Sabres 2008 Draft Preview

Written By Kris Baker on Sunday, June 1, 2008 | 6/01/2008

Time to push the word count envelope.

The 2008 NHL draft class is projected to offer teams flexibility in formulating their draft strategies, as it's ripe with two rounds worth of quality talent at the skating positions, while being especially top-heavy with upper-tier defensemen. With four of the first 74 picks, Buffalo GM Darcy Regier and his scouting department are nicely set-up to address some organizational needs early.

As of now, the Sabres will enter Ottawa on June 20th with a total of seven picks in hand. There has been chatter of a possible eighth being added at position #45 in Round #2 as compensation for not signing 2000 first-rounder Artem Kriukov, but that appears to be a non-issue until an IIHF transfer agreement is ironed out. At this point, it's possible that Kriukov is retired from hockey before this is settled...

For future reference, here are the guidelines regarding compensatory picks from the NHL CBA:

Article 8: Entry Draft
Compensatory Picks
Article 8.3. Compensatory
Draft Selections. "(a) In addition to the seven (7) rounds of the Entry Draft,
there shall be an additional number of Compensatory Draft Selections not to
exceed the number of Clubs to be in the League in the following year."

"(b) In the event a Club loses its draft rights to an Unsigned Draft
Choice drafted in the first round of the Entry Draft (except as a result of
failing to tender a required Bona Fide Offer (as defined below)), who is again
eligible for the Entry Draft or becomes an Unrestricted Free Agent, a
Compensatory Draft Selection shall automatically be granted to that Club, which
Compensatory Draft Selection shall be the same numerical choice in the second
round in the Entry Draft immediately following the date the Club loses such
rights. By way of example, if a Club cannot sign the third pick in the first
round, it will receive the third pick in the second round as compensation."

Edit: As an example, Phoenix has been awarded the 35th overall selection as compensation for not signing Blake Wheeler.

2008 Buffalo Sabres Draft Picks:
1 - #13
1 - #26 (from San Jose)
2 - #44
3 - #74
4 - #104
5 - #134
6 - #164

Sizing Things Up

Note: Benjamin Breault is no longer a Sabres prospect as of 6/1/08



Using the most recent Top 20 rankings as a measuring stick, four of the Sabres Top 10 prospects reside on the blueline (Butler, Weber, Brennan, Schiestel). The Sabres Top 10 is currently void of RW's, with only one landing in the Top 20 (Tropp).

The Blue

Not counting the graduated Andrej Sekera or probable "tweener" Marc-Andre Gragnani, the Sabres currently own the rights to twelve defensive prospects. Despite being short on imposing bruisers, there is an otherwise healthy mix brewing in terms of blueline skill sets.

Chris Butler, Drew Schiestel, Mike Kostka, and Matt Generous are all fluid skaters apt for smart plays with the puck. T.J. Brennan and Alex Biega are big-shooting puck luggers who will step up and use their low centers of gravity to break up plays. Not particularly heavyweights, all can be considered under-rated in terms of character.

Mike Weber and Drew MacKenzie are physical types built for simple, stay-at-home roles. Mike Funk has taken strides to use his 6'4 frame more over his two AHL seasons, while Mike Card was improving his overall play before injuries cut short his 2007-08 campaign. Developing Europeans Dennis Persson and Vjacheslav Buravchikov round out the organzation depth, but are hardly intimidating down low.

Teams are always looking to add speed and mobility from the back end, and the Sabres have plenty. With this in mind, it should be noted how Buffalo fans quickly embraced Mike Weber late in the year for his dedication inside the dots, and his ability to deliver a check. From a hits-per-game perspective, Weber's 2.81 in 16 games played was the Sabres statistical leader, just edging the missle-like Patrick Kaleta who averaged 2.8 over his 40 games. In gross minutes, Weber played about 14:00 in total time more than Kaleta.

Once Weber achieves a higher comfort level, expect him to assert his aggressive side even more. That's well and good, but the system is lacking in players with similar instincts. The past couple of seasons have seen the Sabres D fall on the wrong side of the 'pound-vs-get pounded' equation, and the suggestion that Buffalo needs another nasty crease-clearer is plain as day.

If the Sabres are having a hard time choosing a defenseman, they may want to give deeper consideration to a right-hander. All of the Sabres top-tier prospects are lefties, and the top-5 rated rearguards for 2008 are all right-handed. However, the remaining 2008 D crop is dominated by left handers. There are currently just four dmen in the pipeline who shoot from the right, and the lack of those curves has been a trouble spot on the top roster since the lockout ended.

Pay It Forward?

The average Sabres forward prospect runs 6'0, 190-pounds, yet two of their more prolific scorers in 2007-08 - Nathan Gerbe (5'5, 160 lbs.) and Paul Byron (5'10, 145 lbs.) - clock in well below the norm for a developing NHLer. Not short on speed and skill, the system would welcome additional scoring punch with a large frame.

By the numbers, right wing would be a prime area to target with just three in the system. Ironically, RW is also a spot where size itself isn't much of an issue. Andrew Orpik (6'3, 215 lbs.), and RFA Mark Mancari (6'4, 225 lbs.) represent the two largest bodies up front, while 2007 third-rounder Corey Tropp is 6'0, 185 pounds and growing. With Mancari in limbo, the Sabres could certainly afford to add some pop down the right side.

The Sabres are deepest in talent at left wing, with Gerbe, Philip Gogulla, and Tim Kennedy joining emerging RFA Clarke MacArthur and AHL-mainstay Dylan Hunter in the pipeline. Sweetening the pot of possible LW reserves is the skilled Marc-Andre Gragnani who spent his first AHL season flopping between D and LW.

The center position is currently loaded with question marks, headlined by former first-round pick, Marek Zagrapan. After back-to-back seasons of 38 and 40 points, the former first-round pick is entering a make-or-break season in 2008-09. Newly signed Felix Schutz will arrive in the AHL to create a little pressure in the middle of the lineup, while Derek Whitmore's two-year deal marked the end of the road for Benjamin Breault in the Sabres system.

At 6'3, 195-pounds, C/LW J.S. Allard is one of the larger players in the fold, but he's not a big banger. With a career offensive year, he's still showing promise as a possible third-liner. He and the slick Byron will return to the QMJHL next season as the pair enter the next cycle of development.

Many of the current draftees fit the Lindy Ruff blueprint of versatility. Gragnani was third in AHL rookie scoring while splitting time. Gerbe was originally a center, then thrived as a left wing. Tropp, Schutz, Orpik, and Allard also slid into different slots at various points during 2007-08. So while we outline a shortage of natural RW's in the stable, the mission of this draft isn't necessarily an automatic RW refill.

Nice Pipes

With the signing of 2006 second-rounder, Jhonas Enroth, the Sabres have a good level of talent in goal. UND freshman Brad Eidsness and BGSU sophomore Nick Eno appear to have the inside track on starting NCAA jobs, while Adam Dennis will return to the AHL for depth. With the three E's presumably locked into the pipeline for at least three-years each, the Sabres could theoretically make goaltending the least of their priorities. Regier has stated his preference to take a goalie every draft, and this season could see one drop in the later rounds if he sticks to that philosophy.

The Draft Table

The Regier-era Sabres:
  • drafted 20 of the 30 players who wore the Sabres sweater in 2007-08.
  • have only worked two drafts (1998, 2001) where they haven't taken a goaltender.
  • have chosen at least one player from the OHL in every draft (since 1997), and have selected more players there (21) than any other league.
  • have drafted a total of 17 players from the WHL, but none have been first rounders.
  • have not chosen a player from the WHL in the past three drafts.
  • have decent distribution over the past three drafts (23 total picks) with nine Americans, eight Canadians, and six Europeans.
  • have taken a total of 28 players directly from Europe - Czech Republic (10), Russia (7), Slovakia (5), Sweden (4), Germany (1), and Finland (1).
  • have used four of their eleven first round picks on NCAA players.
  • have used 14 of their past 51 picks on players who have developed (or will have as of this fall) in the NCAA.
  • have never selected a player from the BCHL, an established feeder league for NCAA talent. 53 players have been plucked from the league since 2000.


Radar Love

Fans should consider it a shame that the Sabres won't be able to cash in the Kriukov comp pick this draft, as there are so many players in the 2nd-4th round range with legitimate game. With that option shut down for now, this would be as good a year as any to consider swapping a spare forward for a pick or two in the top-100.

All in all, employing the BPA (best player available) philosophy when making picks should result in a decent spread among the positions. With this in mind, the Sabres likely aren't concerned about what side a wing prefers as much are they are adding quality talent in general.

Taking recent trends into consideration, let's end with a few names to kick around when thinking about the draft as a whole. Might as well insert the obligatory "crapshoot" disclaimer, and oh, it may not be a bad idea to grab a cold one.

Round 1 (13) - Luca Sbisa (D, Lethbridge-WHL), John Carlson (D, Indiana-USHL), Kyle Beach (RW, Everett-WHL), Colten Teubert (D, Regina-WHL), Mattias Tedenby (LW, HV 71-SEL)

F Mikkel Boedker would be a great choice to someday slide opposite Vanek, but he's likely gone after a strong playoff year with Kitchener. Realistically, power forward to-be Beach is either an 8-9-10 guy, or a player who drops to the bottom half of round one. Enticing defensive project Teubert will be on the board at #13, but his sub-par puck skills outweigh his aggressive tendencies.

It's hard not to love Tedenby's game. The 5'10, quick-footed Swede has dazzling offensive skill and goes hard around the net. I think you can actually hear him buzz. Undaunted by his smallish frame, Tedenby looks to translate well to the NHL game.

It's probably a good idea for the Sabres to concentrate on that second tier of defensemen in this class. Combine stud Carlson is a big 6'2, 212-pound righty that is very intriguing. A good skater with a big shot, he compiled 43 points in his first USHL season. A New Jersey blueline product a la Brennan ('07), Carlson recently spurned his previous committment to U-Mass and is instead heading to London of the OHL.

However, Sbisa is the pick if available.

An all-situations player with a big shot, a set of wheels, and a mean streak, the Swiss-born defender was a beast for the Hurricanes in the WHL playoffs. He exceeded most expectations by showing off his blend of scoring and hitting while navigating his first North American season. Steadily showing consistency, the upside of this mobile, rugged package is too much for Regier to pass up.

Round 1 (26) - Anton Gustafsson (C, Frolunda, Jr.-Swe), Jordan Eberle (C, Regina-WHL), Joe Colborne (C, Camrose-AJHL), Zac Dalpe (RW/C, Penticton-BCHL)

If Sbisa is tabbed at #13, the Sabres are going forward all the way with their other first-rounder.

This would be a great spot to remind readers that last year's #26 pick, David Perron, stepped right into the St. Louis Blues lineup to contribute 13-14-27 in 62 games.

Gustafsson is an easy name to call if he's still on the board at #26. With a pro frame and excellent vision, the two-way pivot has NHL bloodlines (his father is former Capital, Bengt) and is another in a long line of excellent Swedish forwards who won't need loads of seasoning before making a dent in North America.

Even if the Swede is still in play, the chance exists that Eberle becomes the next member of the Sabres. A clutch scorer with pure offensive gifts, the 5'11, 176-pound Regina native is like most 18-year olds in that he'd benefit from a commitment to the weight room. Using talent to make up for strength, he went 4-6-10 for Canada at the U18's last month (while riding shotgun with Cody Hodgson) after a solid 42-goal campaign in the WHL.

The DU-bound Colborne is a guy we kept close tabs on this season while monitoring the progress of Brad Eidsness in Okotoks. There is a split opinion in the scouting circles about Colborne. Many see a 6'5 body that's closing in on 200 pounds and want that to be his main vehicle. He's simply a skilled producer that answered the bell in the CJAHL playoffs (outscored Dalpe head-to-head), and will be a nice player down the middle at the NHL level after a few seasons with Coach Gwozdecky.

In an interview with SabresProspects, Eidsness said this about Colborne: "Joe is a very good player. He has an extremely large frame at 6’5 and when he develops his body he will be a force."

Dalpe, a very talented scorer with great speed, is a fine option to consider if available late in the first. Determined in all zones, the lanky six-footer (thanks to a growth spurt) will be the main attraction at Ohio State for the next couple of seasons. He does most things well offensively, but doesn't quit in his own end either.

From the same Eidsness interview, on the toughest shooter he has faced: "As far as this season goes on our World Jr. A challenge team, Zac Dalpe, who is highly ranked for this years up coming draft and is set to attend Ohio State next fall, has the best release I’ve seen this year."

QMJHL blueliner Yann Sauve had an up and down season for Saint John, likely falling into the second round on many teams boards. However, he's still a very good player that's worth a first-round mention. Despite inconsistency with his feet and decision making, you have to like something about a big, strong guy who fought top-rated Steven Stamkos in the CHL Top Prospects Game.

Round 2 (44) - Johan Motin (D, Farjestad-SEL), Danny Kristo (RW, U.S. NTDP), Corey Trivino (C, Stouffville-OPJRA), Danick Paquette (RW, Lewiston-QMJHL), Luke Adam (C, St. John's-QMJHL), Cory Fienhage (D, Eastview-Minn. HS)

Each team has their own board, and the Sabres have used the 2nd round to pull a punch or two. When the names Fabry, Gogulla, and Schiestel were called, many draftniks had to scroll deep down their lists to cross the name off. If there's a round where they may reach to get player they like, this is it.

Motin is a steady, mature defenseman who played full-time in the SEL this past season. He slipped a bit after a sub-par U20 World Junior tourney, but he's a low-risk, high-effort guy who plays with a mean streak. Nothing flashy here - just the makings of a serviceable support defenseman. Once a top-rated European, a savvy GM will make sure the 6'1, 202-pound righty doesn't make it to round three.

The #44 pick might not be a bad spot to think about Kristo if he's still on the board. A thin U.S. NTDP scorer who'll be heading to North Dakota next season, he'll likely be in demand after a six-point showing in Russia and could go any time after the flip of the round.

The BU-bound Trivino is a slick offensive weapon. With excellent hands and feet, the speedy dangler creates and finishes with equal aptitude. Needing to add a fair amount of beef to his 6'1, 170-pound frame, a team is likely going to jump on the Jr."A" talent after watching him pot four goals for Canada at the U18 tournament in Russia.

Paquette is a player who has the makings of a fan favorite wherever he ends up. A goal scorer who actually learned a trick or two from working with ex-MAINEiac Perron, the 6'0, 209-pounder scored 29 goals this season while fighting his way to 213 PIMS - good for 2nd in the Q. Gifted offensively and a nice guy off the ice, his wrecking ball style can sometimes lead to questionable hits. Being a below average skater may drop him into the third.

The barreling Adam is one of our favorite players in the draft. He goes hard at both ends, and was the leading scorer for St. John's this past season. With an Owen Nolan/Rick Nash type game, he's a responsible, soft-handed scorer who likes use his 6'2, 200-pound body to bang and create. His skating has prevented him from entering the elite tier of forwards.

The wildcard in this spot just might be the athletic Fienhage (pronounced fin-a-gee). At 6'2, 190-lbs, the fleet-footed blueliner will be heading to North Dakota in 2009. An aggressive defender, scouts took notice with his ability to play "big" in a brief USHL stint after his Minnesota HS season ended. A safety on his high school football team, the scrappy right-hander may need another year before entering the NCAA, but his package is something that the Sabres could use more of. Keep your eyes peeled for his name as Draft Combine reports come out.

Round 3 (74) - Daulton Leveille (C, St. Catharines-GHL), Patrice Cormier (C, Rimouski-QMJHL), Andre Petersson (RW, HV71 Jr-Swe), James Livingston (RW, Sault Ste. Marie-OHL), Mark Barberio (D, Moncton-QMJHL)

In recent years, the Sabres have maximized third round value with players like MacArthur, Sekera, and Gragnani. Conventional wisdom says they'll fish out another winner.

Developing twenty minutes up the road in St. Catharines, Sabres scouts are very familiar with Leveille. A dominant force with 14 goals in 16 games of the Golden Horseshoe League playoffs, Leveille is a fabulous skater who excels in space, including on the penalty kill where he scored six of his 29 goals in the regular season. At 6'0, 163-pounds, perhaps his thin frame allows him to fall to Buffalo in this spot. Then again, there's enough buzz where a team could very well take him in the top 40. Difficult to assess against Junior B competition, he'll matriculate to Michigan State of the robust CCHA in the fall.

Scouts fell in love with Cormier as a bantam, when he scored 91 points in 26 games at the age of 14. He hasn't had another statisitcal year like that since, but he's become an intense power forward who can produce modest offensive numbers. Standing 6'2, 200-pounds, Cormier scored 18 goals and 41 points to go along with 84 PIMs last season.

The speedy Petersson will bring a quick release and excellent offensive skills to an NHL depth chart. Sliding in rankings before Christmas, the 5'9 wing made a statement with four goals and four assists at the U18's in April. With history in mind, it's reasonable to think the Sabres opt for a player who's similar in size to highly-ranked Swede, Mattias Tedenby, just less consistent. He should be considered an x-factor in this draft.

A lumbering stride could cause Livingston to last until the Sabres pick at #74. A solid 6'1, 200-pound right wing, he's a bull down low with excellent offensive instincts. Better, more consistent scoring may still be on the board, but clubs can always use workmanlike, team-first players who can add points to the middle of a lineup.

Steady and poised with a somewhat awkward stride, Barberio scored 11 goals and 46 total points this past season in the Q. The 6'1, 200-pounder isn't very physical (only 20 hits all last season), but has an excellent all-around game indicative of a steady NHL defender to-be.

Round 4 (104) - Marc-Andre Bourdon (D, Rouyn-Noranda-QMJHL), Brett Theberge (C, Peterborough-OHL), Marco Scandella (D, Val d'Or-QMJHL), Patrick Wiercioch (D, Omaha-USHL), Geordie Wudrick (LW, Swift Current-WHL)

We're tabbing the under-rated Bourdon ahead of where most bureaus have placed him all season long. Standing 6'2, 206 pounds, the QMJHL Defenseman of the Year scored 59 points, was +39, and had eight fights while helping lead a potent Huskies attack. Perhaps not the most gifted skater, Bourdon brings all of the necessary skills to suggest he can add depth down the road. Rated the 125th North American skater by CSS, but should go by the end of the 4th round.

Theberge is a tough, two-way center with a good mind for the game. He relishes the shutdown role, and can be looked to for key draws. Standing 6'0, 194-pounds, Theberge could be a bit of a sleeper for a team looking for steady play at the pivot spot. Represented by Hall of Famer Bobby Orr, he scored 13 goals and 39 total points for the Petes in 2007-08.

The 6'2, 195-pound Scandella can be seen as a good value if he's still on the board past #100. He was the only Q defenseman to play for Canada at the U18's. A good skater who advances the puck, Scandella appeared on the draft scene midway through his rookie season of major junior. Simple, reliable, and effective are three words that describe his game.

Wiercioch (pronounced weer-cott) was slowed by injuries during the regular season, but cranked it up in the USHL playoffs with 11 points in 14 games while leading the Lancers to the Clark Cup title. Year after year, the USHL asserts itself as a developmental rival to the CHL. The 6'3 blueline lefty, who previously was a teammate of Kyle Turris in Burnaby (BCHL), will enroll at Wisconsin in 2009.

Wudrick uses a combination of speed and a 6'3, 204-pound frame to get to the net, where he finished 20 plays last year for the Broncos. An improved player who has worn the Canadian Leaf on his sweater, there's a slight chance he's available past 100.

Round 5 (134) - Brett Perlini (RW, Soo Thunderbirds-NOJHL), Milan Doczy (D, Owen Sound-OHL), Brodie Reid (RW, Burnaby-BCHL), Drew Olson (D, Brainerd, MN-USHS), Greg Pateryn (D, Ohio-USHL)

Perlini is a swift skater who scores in bundles. He's got great hands, and doesn't mind hitting traffic to make plays. He tore up the lower-level NOJHL this past season after a tenuous stretch with Ohio (USHL). The lanky 6'2 C/RW will make the leap to the competitive CCHA when he enters Michigan State this fall, and the Sabres have tabbed incoming Spartans before (Kennedy, Tropp, Miller). Any team selecting the player with British roots will likely have to fend off Detroit and New Jersey.

Doczy recently completed his first season of North American hockey with Owen Sound (OHL). The 6'5, 204-pound Czech is defensive minded with adequate skating ability, and a touch of a mean streak. He uses his long reach to make simple plays. Unranked by CSS, he still could see time at the WJC's in years to come.

An excellent finisher, Reid exploded for an impressive 52 goals in 60 regular season games in the competitive BCHL after just 10 points in 50 games the year prior. It's hard to say if he falls, but if the Sabres are looking for more sniping talent, he could be worth a look here. The 6'0, 185-pound wing who also kills penalties will play in Hockey East next season with Northeastern.

A Mr. Hockey finalist in Minnesota this past year, Olson is best described as a steady, do-it-all defenseman. The Duluth recruit skates and passes very well, and uses his 5'11, 215-pound body to play a physical brand in his own zone. He could play for Omaha of the UHSL for a season before hitting the WCHA.

Pateryn is a 6'2, 212-pound righty who will likely play another season of Jr.A with Ohio before bringing his physical style to the University of Michigan in 2009. Big and smart with good offensive instincts, his only question mark could be his knack for taking penalties.

Round 6 (164) - Paul Lee (C, Avon-USHS), Ryan Grimshaw (D, U.S. NTDP), Daniel Weiss (C, Berlin-Ger.Jr), Greg Burke (LW, NH Jr. Monarchs-EJHL), Alexander Fallstrom (RW, Shattuck-St.Mary's-USHS)

Lee, a 6'2, 200-pound forward, skated on a line with fellow '08 eligibles Cam Atkinson and Patrick Mullane to lead Avon (CT) to the New England Prep Championshp. A two-way, physical battler with decent offensive ability, the New Jersey-born forward will head to Dartmouth in a few months. We like the fact that he takes pride in his defensive zone work, as it's usually indicative of a team-first approach.

An intriguing player in the late rounds is another top performer at the U18's, Grimshaw. A native of nearby Rochester, NY, the defenseman posted three assists and a team-best +7 in seven games. Registering 6'2, 192 pounds while with the U.S. NTDP, the aggressive, blue collar defenseman with a nice point shot will be attending Harvard this fall, where he'll learn the ropes from current prospect and fellow Salisbury School product, Alex Biega.

Weiss, a 6'2 German RW, put up four goals in front of Sabres scouts at the U18's in Kazan. Is it possible that Gogulla and Schutz gave a plug to one of their fellow countrymen? Both he and freight train Toni Ritter were solid at the tourney.

Set to enroll at New Hampshire in 2009, Burke is a big forward who scored 21 goals and 46 total points this season for New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs. He also added five goals in six playoff games to lead his club to the EJHL finals. The Sabres have looked to the Tier-III league late in two of the past four drafts, and 6'2, 190-pound Burke is the best of the bunch.

Born in Stockholm but playing high school hockey with Shattuck, Fallstrom is a 6'1, 190-pound agitator. Currently uncommitted for college, the 17-year old also packs some scoring punch while causing issues for the opposition. He was recently picked up by Des Moines in the USHL draft.

Goaltenders

With decent depth developing, SabresProspects isn't in favor of looking at any of the '08 netminders before the fourth round.

Sanborn's Thomas McCollum is the top-rated North American goaltender in the class of '08. Playing with the Guelph Storm, the 6'2 gardien stopped his way to a sub-2.00 GAA in the playoffs after a 25-win regular season. He should be chosen in the top-60.

Spokane's Dustin Tokarski showed his mental wares as a big-time performer with a Memorial Cup win, and could see his stock reflected with a mid-round selection. He had a 2.05 GAA and .922 save percentage for the defense-minded Chiefs.

Posting a .941 save percentage, Barrie's Michael Hutchinson blocked alot of rubber in the OHL playoffs with undermatched Barrie. He was OHL Player of the Week after leading the Colts to a first round upset of Brampton, and just might be the goalie the Sabres look at if he makes it to the later stages.

Other Notables

With lack of a seventh rounder thanks to the Campbell deal, there's extra space to drop a few more names into the hat.

Depite going undrafted as CSS's 119th ranked North American skater in 2007, Vermont's Jack Downing, 19, was a guest at last summer's Sabres Prospects Camp. The 6'2, physcial wing with excellent skating skills scored eight goals as a freshman for the Catamounts, and is again ranked in the same neighborhood for 2008. Downing will be joined by fellow New Canaan, CT native (and current Sabres prospect) Drew MacKenzie in Burlington this fall.

Projected late-rounders Justin and Drew Daniels are twin brothers (C and LW respectively) who turned a struggling Kent School program into a top New England Prep club. Both stand 6'2, and need to add quite a bit of mass to their 160-pound frames. After combining for 80 points last season, the scoring pair are slated to play in Sioux City (USHL) before attending Northeastern in 2009.

The Nathan Gerbe-esque mid-round darling of this draft? How about 5'8, 160-pound defenseman David Warsofsky. The highly skilled puck mover from the U.S. development program racked up seven assists in Kazan, and looks to be positioned as a 3rd-4th rounder. He'll be joining U18 teammate Trivino at Boston University in the fall.

Mikhail Stefanovich might be worth a gander if he somehow slips out of the second round. The 6'2, 206-pounder left his native Belarus for the QMJHL where he scored 32 goals and 66 points in his rookie season. He's got nice moves, but his attitude and work ethic have come under scrutiny at times. Perhaps the Habs pluck him to tag along with fellow Belarussian comrades, the Kostitsyn brothers.

Aside from the top-rated Stamkos, Kelowna's Colin Long was the only other 100-point scorer to attend the NHL Scouting Combine. The 5'11 center finished with an even 100 compared to Stamkos' 105, and could see himself go in the third round after being passed over in 2007. The California native will turn 19 the day before the draft.

(zac-atak) - Aside from first-round studs Bogosian, Boychuk, and Dalpe, there are other Zac's worth a mention.

A fun player to watch has been Missisaugua's Zac Rinaldo. At 5'11, 170-pounds, Rinaldo is a pesky LW who scored 14 points and racked up an impressive 191 PIM's in the OHL. He doesn't have one-punch KO power, but his scraps are spirited.

Peterborough's Zach Harnden is a big wing (6'3, 209 lbs.) who can finish plays from in tight. He's got a long stride and a longer-reaching frame that makes him difficult to handle when the puck is on his rod. He's not overly physical, but he doesn't shy away from contact as evidenced by a few fighting majors.

6'1, 190-pound Kurtis Bartliff scored 36 goals for Listowel of the Jr. B MWJHL (OHA), and is likely to be picked up late. Property of the Sarnia Sting (OHL), he appears headed out west for another season of Jr. A before honoring his committment to Colgate in 2009.

Igor Revenko, a 6'0, 180-pound LW from Belarus, raised a few eyebrows late after scoring three goals and 11 points at the U18's. Previously unranked, he was the 126th rated European on the final CSS list.

A hard-working, 6'2, 193-pound scorer, Marshall Everson cleans up well in front of the net. After a 42-goal campaign while on a line with fellow '08 Anders Lee, the Minnesota high school scorer will be join a Harvard program on the upswing in 2009. He'll get some looks in the late rounds.

A teammate of Doczy in Owen Sound, Michael D'Orazio is a tough, mobile defender who finishes his checks and is patient with the puck. The 6'2, 200-pounder gets his shots through on the PP, and has shown enough to earn a look in the latter half of the deck.

Julien Cayer is a player who has seen his stock fall while playing in the North Country at Northwood Prep. At 6'4, 185 pounds, the Montreal native will take his quick wrist shot down the road to Clarkson next season. If he can add weight and learn to use his body, the deadly shooter might help a club one day.

A guy who already has the big frame is CSS's 163rd ranked North American skater and Buffalo native, Rich Manley. A former member of the Chicago Steel (USHL), the 6'5, 235-pound RW spent last season with Burnaby of the BCHL where he compiled 16-35-51 in 58 games while being one of their top players down the stretch. Currently uncommitted to an NCAA program, Manley could be tabbed anytime after the fifth round.

Fredonia's Nick Bailen is another local product eligible for the draft. The 5'10, 175-pound defenseman scored eight goals, 21 points, and racked up 157 PIMs for Indiana of the USHL last season. Unranked by CSS, Bailen committed to Bowling Green back in November of 2005.

Originally placed on CSS "Players to Watch" list, Grand Island's Matt Zarbo is another unranked WNY native eligible for selection. A hard working left winger with the EJHL's Jr. Bruins, Zarbo ('08) and younger brother/linemate Joe ('09) have both committed to Clarkson. Tri-City owns both of their USHL rights.

The Russians

Previously displaying a liking for Russians, the Sabres have only chosen one in the last four drafts. That pick (Buravchikov, 6th round, 2005) was used on a player who dropped so far that his selection was justified. Since then, the inability to get the Russian officials to agree to an IIHF transfer agreement has many NHL clubs scratching their heads when it comes to choosing Russian talent.

The Sabres can be considered risk-takers at the draft table, but for now it may be wise if they stay away another year while that situation sorts itself out. This means possibly ignoring immense talents of the top-5 Russian skaters - Nikita Filatov, Kiril Petrov, Viktor Tikhonov, Vjacheslav Voinov, and Evgeny Grachev. There is ample talent to be found elsewhere.

6/01/2008 | 29 comments | Read More