Sabres take a look at Varone

Written By Kris Baker on Monday, July 4, 2011 | 7/04/2011

The Buffalo Sabres have invited former OHL standout Phil Varone to participate in this week's summer development camp. A heady player with excellent hands and vision, the 20-year old Varone is in the job market after not being offered a contract by the San Jose Sharks, who had previously selected him in the fifth round of the 2009 draft.

Varone, a 5'10, 180-pound center, scored 34 goals and 82 points (t21st in OHL) this past season with Erie before leading the club with three goals and 10 assists in the Otters' first round loss to the Windsor Spitfires. The spralkling post-season performance came two years removed from his initial playoff revelation when he potted 10 goals and 19 points in 14 games for a loaded London Knights club that included John Tavares, Nazem Kadri, John Carlson, and Michael Del Zotto.

After mid-season shoulder surgery limited his 2009-10 campaign to just 31 games (9+22), London shipped the overage Varone to Erie last October for a pair of draft picks. His productive tenure with the Otters kept him on the pro radar, but it seems that his below-average size and perhaps injury concerns made the Sharks apprehensive about using a contract on the talented center. Varone re-entered the 2011 draft but was not picked.

Varone, the Otters 2010-11 MVP, has the key components for an organizational depth role. He is an excellent leader, a good distributor, and a clutch shooter. He's not ultra aggressive but he's tough, and has a history of elevating the play of his linemates.

The Sabres could use an offensive spark on the farm after trading Paul Byron to Calgary so perhaps they see Varone as hard-working creator that can step right in while awaiting the development of their current CHL crop. Two of last year's AHL centers, Matt Ellis and Brian Roloff, are currently free agents while a third, Travis Turnbull, was recently tendered a qualifying offer to continue his work in Rochester for the 2011-12 season.

7 comments:

Boogie said...

Checked out the practice yesterdat, Varrone didnt look out of place one bit. Cant understand why he wasnt offered a contract.

Boogie said...

So, Varone still looks pretty good, but Jonathan Parker needs to be offered a contract. That guy was one of the 10 best players that I watched today.

Kris Baker said...

Thanks, Boogie. Love the updates. Varone is a good all-around player. Not at all surprised to hear of his good showing. I expect the same as close closes...

I'll be at camp Friday-Sunday by the way. Tues/Weds weren't reasonable with my work schedule. Come say hey. Pretend the bleacher are a Where's Waldo board...

Your Parker reference is the third one today. The others came via text, onme included him taking Adams to town in the corner.

Boogie said...

Will do, I'll be there tomorrow. First vacation time I've taken this year, and I'm only using two hours a day.

Parker's play looks a lot like Legace's, only under better control, and with lot's of tight stick handling around the net. Doesn't seem to like to pass much, although he's playing for a camp invite, so you've got to figure that he's try to show off as much of his scoring ability as he can.

Another guy that I though looked really good today was Fienhage. In a two on one corner drill, he owned the puck. The only guys that gave him even slight trouble were Szydlowski and Sundher who were beasts along the boards themselves. But Fienhage eventually handled them too. I don't know where he's going to fit in Rochester with Persson, Schiestel, Biega, Brennan, Crawford, and McNabb, but it is interesting that Brennan didn't look great in most of the defensemen drills, and he took part in a handful of forward drills. Also, with Sekera filing for arbitration, it's possible that he might get moved and one of those six makes the Sabres out of training camp. Either way, he looks like a legit NHL prospect.

I know it's been mentioned by Paul Hamilton and other bloggers at the camp, but Ennis and Adam are putting on a show. Those two seem to have great chemistry, and are just playing keep away out there.

Lepkowski looks promising out there, much more athletic than I was expecting. He seemed to have some balance issues, but I'm sure it's a case of being young and growing.

Brad Navin didn't wow me with anything, but he looked solid out there.

I either didn't see or didn't notice Colin Jacobs at all.

Same for Liuewen.

Catennacci looks quick, but not oh-my-god quick like I was kind of expecting. I kept losing track of him and Christian Isackson, as they were both wearing the same color, looked quick and had good hands. They were among the better guys out there during the one on none goalie drills.

I'm not trying to pretend I'm a scout or anything, but I've been going up to these things for a few years now, so you can interpret my commentary as a comparison to other players in other years.

Dave said...

Lieuwen is not on the ice, recovering from a hernia. Jacob was not on the ice yesterday too, so it may simply be that he's not out there.

boos said...

kinda late on the scene here, boogie, but i was there thurs. and fri...

i saw the same thing with finehage, nice presence on the ice...

parker owned mark adams a couple of times in the corner on one particular drill...the kid really worked his ass off throughout and hopefully it paid off...the kid scored 45 goals last season...great invite...

mentioned to bakes on fri. that parker and tropp were the only prospects who seemed to find the back of the net consistently...both of them can pick a corner...

really liked marcus foligno alot as well...moreso than kassian...although it's just a camp, kassian rarely got good wood on any of his shots...just couldn't seem to get his stick to work...

brennan looked awkward a couple of times...one time he fell on the ice and another time ruff made him and pysyk do push-ups at the end of a 3-on-3 drill...

not claiming to be a scout either, but the only ones who really stood out for me those two days were parker and tropp with honorable mentions to foligno and finehage...

Boogie said...

Yeah, I'm going to have to reverse my analysis of Brennan. He was dynamite in the Saturday scrimmage. On what I think ended in Beyers' goal, Brennan made an outlet pass from the faceoff dot to the right of the goal, off the boards, and directly onto Beyers' (I think) stick in the offensive zone. Great timing and accuracy on that one. Also, he seemed to be taking the puck off of these young forwards the seconde they entered the zone. Really, he was far and away the best D on the ice, maybe even the best player.

Finehage struggled a bit in open ice, but you can't take his board play away from him. He really brings it on every play.

I'm glad that Tropp got the hatty on Sunday, because he looked really strong on Saturday. I think it's going to be hard to keep that guy out of the top six, even if his skill set is a better fit for a grinder. Hey, Lindy's system. A stick guy, a net guy and a grinder on every line.

I was a little disappointed that Parker disappeared on Saturday. He seemed to play with his head down a little, which may account for him looking very good in 2 on 2, but not so much 5 on 5.

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