Sabres announce Traverse City roster

Written By Kris Baker on Wednesday, August 31, 2011 | 8/31/2011

The Sabres today announced their roster for the Traverse City Prospects Tourney that will take place September 10-14 in Traverse City, Michigan. The Sabres will pit their group of hopefuls against sqauds representing the Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Minnesota Wild, New York Rangers and St. Louis Blues.

The 25-man roster, which includes 20 former draft picks, is comprised mainly of CHL and AHL hopefuls. Players competing in the NCAA ranks will not participate as NHL training camps occur during fall semester (and the fact that the players would have to pay their own way to avoid violation of NCAA rules).

The Sabres will be bringing a full boat of 15 forwards, eight defensemen, and two goalies. There aren't many surprises on the list (other than the omission of Colin Jacobs, who was suffered an undisclosed injury at d-camp).

The Sabres will continue their looks at three free agents who skated in Development Camp this past July (Beyers, Parker, Varone), while former Yale goaltender Ryan Rondeau rounds out the list of unattached properties skating in blue and gold. As of now, Jonathan Parker is the only known invite to Rochester's training camp. He along with Varone will be age eligible to skate in the AHL this season while Beyers is still a year away.
8/31/2011 | 8 comments | Read More

Catenacci off to Owen Sound

Written By Kris Baker on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 | 8/24/2011

The Daniel Catenacci  trade saga came to an end Wednesday as the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds traded the talented center to the defending OHL champion Owen Sound Attack for Andrew Fritsch and a second round draft pick.

The prelude to the deal has been discussed plenty in this space, but do check 97.7 The Beach for audio of Attack GM Dale DeGray speaking about his acquisition. For those without speakers, the Sun Times coverage offers some nice quotes. It's clear that Catenacci will have every chance to make some noise in Owen Sound.

"I'm looking at Daniel Catenacci as potentially being one of the top players in the league," said DeGray.
"He's got speed, he's got skill, and he competes hard. I'm happier to have him playing for us than against us."

But Catenacci was disappointed after being taken in the third round of the National Hockey League entry draft by Buffalo in June and he asked the Soo for a trade.

"I think we're going to be the beneficiary of that," said DeGray. "I've been told Daniel has a bit of a bee in his bonnet. He's got things to prove to people and to the NHL."

It's remarkably similar to what Owen Sound went through with centre Steven Shipley who was also disappointed after being drafted by the Sabres.

"It's a lot like the Shipley deal that we had to go through last year," said DeGray.

"Is he a bad kid? No he's not a bad kid. Does he just want a change? Yes, for whatever reason."

Catenacci will report to Owen Sound for the start of training camp on Wednesday, August 31st.
8/24/2011 | 0 comments | Read More

Catenacci convo continues

Written By Kris Baker on Monday, August 22, 2011 | 8/22/2011

If Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds GM Kyle Dubas isn't feeling the heat from the Dan Catenacci trade demand now, wait until next week when training camp begins. After all, what could have been a quiet late-summer stroll into the season has instead become a mini-pressure cooker with the Sault Star water cooler serving as the epicenter.

After reading Peter Ruicci's take last week, two more unique opinions appeared in the paper's pages. First, Bill Montague chimes in with a piece critical of the Hounds for not being ahead of the curve in keeping their leading scorer satisfied.

By losing Catenacci, the Hounds have taken a huge step backwards and Dubas should have done everything possible to make sure this situation did not unfold as it did.

He should have been aware there were problems. He should have been in constant communication with the Catenaccis. And, whether you believe it or not, he should have coddled them, told them what they wanted to hear, if that's what it would have taken to ensure Catenacci's happiness in the Sault.

Like a love relationship, a player has to feel wanted or he goes elsewhere.

Dubas himself said Catenacci could one day become the leading scorer in the league so why wouldn't you do everything possible to keep him here.

Montague continues to make his point, lauding the skilled Catenacci as a hard-working player (albeit with imperfections) who will be tough to replace.

And what did Catenacci mean to the Hounds?

How about a potential 100 point season this season and next. How about a guy who probably worked harder than any other player, game in and game out.

This kid, while undisciplined at times, was by far the team's hardest worker. He seldom took a shift off. He played with sustained intensity. He's as competitive as they come and he has the kind of nasty streak you want in a player.

There's no question that his perceived arrogance may have rubbed some the wrong way, including many of his teammates but nobody can question his work ethic on the ice.

Not everyone is looking to shift their angst from Catenacci towards the Hounds though, as clearly evidenced by Doug Millroy's article titled "Hounds fans don't need a player who doesn't want to be here". I think you have an idea how this one goes.

Actually, it would be nice if we knew what was behind Catenacci's apparently "serious beefs" with the Greyhounds, but as we don't, we are left to speculate.

It may be an ego thing, the Sault not being big enough for him.

It may be that he wasn't accorded the same adulation as some of his teammates such as Cousins and Sproul, possibly not realizing that such adulation is won, not just given.

It may be that he is upset because where he touted himself as being a possible first-rounder in the NHL draft, he didn't go until the third round and this was behind Sproul and Cousins.

It may be because he got short shrift at the Under-18 championship, mostly riding the bench while Cousins got regular ice-time.

It couldn't be for lack of ice time here because he got more than anyone on the team and probably more than he deserved, considering the number of dumb penalties he took. I doubt his new coach, whomever he may be, will be as generous and lenient.

Anyway, who gives a damn what the reason is?

Jeepers. Let's end this and move on.
8/22/2011 | 1 comments | Read More

Sutch on the move; Harsh words for the Cat

Written By Kris Baker on Friday, August 19, 2011 | 8/19/2011

While one Sabres prospect, Daniel Catenacci, awaits a trade out of Sault Ste. Marie, another pipeline forward out of the OHL was actually moved Thursday as Gregg Sutch has been dealt by the Mississauga-St. Michael's Majors to the Barrie Colts for a package of draft picks. The deal is awaiting league approval based on a conditional pick relative to Sutch playing an overage year. (EDIT: the deal has been approved.)

Sutch, who last season posted career highs with a line of 8-20-28 +20 79 PIM, joins another Sabres fifth-rounder, Alex Lepkowski ('11), on the Colts roster. A broken wrist suffered during the Memorial Cup kept Sutch out of scrimmages at last month's development camp, but he's expected to be fully healed when Barrie opens camp at the end of the month.

More on Sutch's 2010-11 campaign from the Spring prospect rankings:

The 6'2 forward upped his production this past season as a member of the loaded Memorial Cup hosts, but he'll never be considered an "offensive" player. Sutch, who was instead drafted for his ability to work and hit, is a penetrating grinder who makes his mark with an intense forecheck and strong cycle work. He's solid on his skates and does a good job using his body to protect the puck.

After showing improvement in the first half of the year, Sutch experienced a slow reset from a January concussion that served as the first sign of a developmental flatline. As the Majors were getting greased for the deep playoff year, Sutch shuffled in and out of the lineup before eventually fading into a pressbox mainstay. Not a particularly good sign after the previous year saw him miss time due to an ankle sprain, staph infection, and separated shoulder.

Sutch, who naturally has his head up at all times due to his severe hearing impairment, will return to the OHL in 2011-12 where he'll look to a) stay healthy, and b) get back on plan with his pesky, power forward game that made him the 11th overall pick in the 2008 bantam draft. He's persevered through every level of hockey, making him one to root for as his career plays out.

Sutch is expected to add size and experience to a Colts club that will see the return of its top three scorers from year ago. One of those weapons, Steven Beyers, attended the Sabres development camp after a 65-point effort in 2010-11 and will likely get the benefit of an extended audition now that the Sabres scouting staff will keeping tabs in Barrie for Sutch's decision year.


While Catenacci plans his sit-out, Sault Star columnist Peter Ruicci stirred it up with his pen this week, claiming that he's looking forward to two days this season: the Hounds opener and the day Catenacci is traded. While it's still unclear what exactly is driving the demand of out Soo, the article does shed a little light on the issue.

It has nothing to do with ice time," he said when asked.

Peppered with more questions, Maurice added: "It's a great organization, we love the people of Sault Ste. Marie and Daniel loves his teammates. We're grateful for the two years we've had up there, but sometimes these things happen in sports."

Again asked about specific reasons for seeking a trade, Maurice politely said he'd "prefer not to comment further at this time" and, he added, "Daniel prefers not to comment."

Dubas won't say anything either. For now.

Ferris, reached Wednesday, also refused comment. He wouldn't even confirm it was the Catenacci camp that asked for a trade.

That's despite the fact Ferris said on Aug. 13 the concerns he and the Catenaccis had "were of a serious nature. They couldn't be resolved and I guess that's why we're where we are today."

So we have Catenacci's father speaking positively about the organization and the agent saying that the concerns are near dire.

According to sources close to the star player, Daniel Catenacci's been telling his Greyhounds teammates the trade request "wasn't his decision."

Whether he means someone (his agent or father) helped convince him seeking a deal was the right way to go, or whether he's trying to suggest it was the Hounds who made the decision to trade him, is unknown.

One thing not mentioned in the article is that former NHLPA player agent Kyle Dubas, 25, became the youngest GM in CHL history this offseason - a situation the Catenacci camp may not be excited to be a part of.

It can't be the distance thing, right? While the drive from Catenacci's Newmarket home to Sault Ste. Marie is over eight hours long, it's hard to imagine that'd be something of "serious nature" (barring personal family matters of course).

Luicci continues:

What I do know is this: With teammates Ryan Sproul and Nick Cousins selected before him, Catenacci slipped into the third round of the NHL draft, taken 77th overall by the Buffalo Sabres.

That's after telling me in a pre-draft interview he believed, based on what Ferris was telling him, he'd be a first-round choice.

It had to be a huge disappointment for a kid with a lot of pride.

Two NHL scouts I spoke to after the draft blamed Catenacci's fall on ego and poor attitude, traits they say he exhibited at the IIHF Under-18 championships in Germany.

I expect Cateancci to be dealt right before the season revs up. The Greyhounds will want to rid themselves of the distraction, and it's possible the Sabres could apply some heat on both sides to get their property on the ice. With little leverage and unquestionable aspirations to someday be in the NHL, neither Dubas or Catenacci should be looking to gain a rep with one of a possible thirty future employers.
8/19/2011 | 5 comments | Read More

Trio tunes up as national camps conclude

Written By Kris Baker on Saturday, August 13, 2011 | 8/13/2011

Edmonton Oil Kings captain Mark Pysyk recently skated among a pack of 17 defensemen looking to make a good first impression as Canada's National Junior Development Camp came and went last week in Alberta. The camp roster, which also included 2010 third-rounder Jerome Gauthier-Leduc, played a pair of competitive scrimmages to begin their World Junior Championship quest and ramp-up their games for the coming season.

The Edmonton Sun's Cult of Hockey recently caught up with Pysyk at camp's conclusion. The 6'1, 187 pounder answered a few questions with an Edmonton flavor, including a brief discussion about the Oilers' 2011 first-rounder, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

CoH: You and Keegan [Lowe] were hard-matched against Nugent-Hopkins quite a bit last year. What are the challenges of playing against him?

MP: If you try to be physical against him he slips around you. If you give him too much space he’ll make you look stupid. If you give him the shot he’ll take it and score. If you don’t give him the shot he’ll pass it around you. He’s just an all-around good player, and you need to play him tight but you still have to respect his speed and his ability to shoot the puck.

CoH: Does he draw you in or does he back you up with his range of possibilities?

MP: He tends to draw people in and then pass the puck around them to the open guy. He’s pretty tough to play against. Hopefully he makes the Oilers so that will make our life a little bit easier with the Oil Kings, and maybe we’ll come to some Oiler games and see what he can do.

Pysyk, who skated as member of Team Red alongside Memorial Cup standout Nathan Beaulieu, is clearly in the mix for a top-six position when the tourney comes to Alberta this winter. After being among the final cuts for the 2011 squad last winter, his skating ability, smarts, and experience should give him a leg up assuming a healthy first-half. We're going to read many articles in the next two months about the possibility of an extended stay in camp and even a nine-game look, but that's hard to envision given the depth in front of him.

The offensive-minded Gauther-Leduc manned a blueline post for Team White with Pysyk's close pal, Joe Morrow of the Portland Winterhawks. The reigning #2 scorer among QMJHL defenders did not register a point in the scrimmages, but could command a selection camp invite with strong fall in Rimouski.


As Canada's camp came to a close, another opened nearly 2,000 miles away as Team USA hosted Sweden and Finland for the National Development Camp in Lake Placid, NY. The Sabres top pick this past June, RW Joel Armia, scored a goal and three assists in four games for the Finnish squad - all losses.

Armia was the subject of a piece after playing for the first time in front of the entire Sabres front office. Finland was pummeled by Sweden, 8-1, and while Armia didn't seem too excited about his performance ("I think I played the worst game I've ever played"), the Sabres brass seemed to think otherwise.

"After the first game here (Monday) I think it was fairly evident the hands he's got and his shot," Sabres Director of Pro Scouting Jon Christiano told "You don't question some of his offensive instincts and offensive skills from the blue line in. He made a real nice play setting up their first goal. He had a great chance where he blew down the left wing and deked (U.S. defenseman Justin) Holl and pounded the puck wide. Kind of like that. He's filling into his body a little bit, that's expected; he's still a young kid. On the offensive end of things, you have to like the natural skill."

"I thought at times he was good," added Regier. "I like his skating ability, his skill. Obviously it was a tough night, but we like his total package and his ability to score."

Armia's excellent hands were on display Thursday when he he netted his lone goal of the tourney with a nice release off an odd-man rush. As far as video of those hands, check out the clip below where he makes two nice plays to get Finland on the board in their Friday contest versus Sweden.

There's work to be done, but for now his future looks bright as a developing trigger man. The 6'3, 192-pounder will remain in Finland this season and is all but guaranteed a spot on their World Junior entry. 
8/13/2011 | 0 comments | Read More

Catenacci wants out of Soo

Written By Kris Baker on Friday, August 12, 2011 | 8/12/2011

Reports out of Sault Ste. Marie are stating that Greyhounds center Daniel Catenacci, the Sabres third-round pick this past June, requested a trade in July and is unlikely to report to the OHL club's camp.

Hounds general manager Kyle Dubas confirmed Thursday night the 18-year-old centre has made it clear through his agent that he won't return for another season.

Any parting of the ways won't exactly be Hounds driven, Dubas said.

"We have not initiated any trade scenarios or situations with this player," the rookie GM said. "There's always a possibility (we would trade Catenacci), and the truth of the matter is, in this regard, is that this player has requested to be traded."

Dubas said he has yet to receive any serious offers for Catenacci and reiterated he won't trade the player unless he gets fair equity in return. He would not elaborate on why Catenacci wants out of the Sault, choosing instead to say that's something the Catenacci camp will have to divulge.

Neither Catenacci nor his agent, Darren Ferris of the Orr Hockey Group, could be reached for comment Thursday night.

And so for the second straight summer, a Sabres mid-round pick out of the OHL is requesting a change of scenery. Last August, Steven Shipley staged a brief holdout from Owen Sound Attack camp before finally reporting, hurting his hand in a scrimmage scrap, and eventually getting dealt to Niagara before the start of the regular season. The move did very little developmentally for the 6'3, 212-pound center, as Shipley posted 20% fewer points with the IceDogs than he did the previous year with the Attack (50 in 2010-11, 63 in 2009-10).

It remains to be seen when and where Catenacci is dealt, but there's no question that his speed and skill make him a player that many teams would be interested in acquiring. By the sounds of it, the Hounds are ready to move on while the 5'10 pivot sits and waits.

Dubas said the Catenacci issue has not been a distraction to neither he nor his players, adding little time was wasted dealing with the matter once it arose.

"We put it out there to teams, confidentially, that we'd accept offers for him," Dubas said. "We've got a lot of draft picks, a lot of players coming back. Once a team gives us the best possible deal, then we'll make it."

So where will Catenacci land? Could he inch his way closer to Buffalo if IceDogs forward Ryan Strome sticks with the Islanders? We'll keep an eye on this in the coming weeks...
8/12/2011 | 2 comments | Read More