The Buffalo Sabres made two prospect signings this week, inking defenseman Jake McCabe and centerman Justin Kea to three-year entry-level contracts.
McCabe enters the system with an excellent two-way game that saw him man top power play and penalty killing minutes for the Wisconsin Badgers. He likes to lead the rush and use his offensive instincts to follow the play deep. Packaged in with the puck moving skill is a solid physical game and all-around healthy work ethic in his zone. The all-situations workhorse led by example during his stay in Madison, and should be a steady top-six option for the Sabres in short order. The process begins immediately, as McCabe will make his NHL debut Thursday as the Sabres visit St. Louis.
From the Sabres' press release:
"McCabe (6'0", 195 lbs., 10/12/93) recently completed his junior season with
the University of Wisconsin (Big Ten), earning first-team All-Big
Ten honors by registering a career-high 25 points (8+17) through 33
games and serving as the team’s assistant captain in 2013-14. His point
total was fifth-best for the Badgers, who captured the Big Ten
conference tournament championship, and fourth-best among
defensemen in the Big Ten. In 2013, he served as captain of Team USA at
the IIHF World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia, where the United
States took home the gold medal."
Link to McCabe playlist
Kea has been praised over the past two seasons for his checking skill down the middle of the ice. Excellent defensively and very good on faceoffs, the burgeoning power forward keeps his game simple by getting the puck deep and using his size and skating ability on the forecheck. He'll get down to block shots in his own zone, defend his teammates, and use his wrist shot to add a few goals at the other end. Serving as a second-line pivot in Saginaw, Kea posted back-to-back 22-goal seasons, with seven of the 44 coming while short-handed. He'll finish the year with the AHL's Rochester Americans.
Link to Kea playlist