The Sabres locked up two more prospects to entry-level contracts this week, inking Nick Baptiste (2013, 3rd round) and Brady Austin (2012, seventh round) to three-year deals.
Baptiste was a ball of fire all season long for Sudbury, scoring 45 goals (t-4th in OHL) and 89 points in 65 games to capture the team/s Most Valuable Player honor. The goal scoring pace picked up with an impressive 25 in his final 29 games. He was named the Best Shootout Shooter and 2nd Best Skater in the 2014 OHL Western Conference Coaches Poll.
The goals were not a revelation, as Baptiste scored twice in the Blue vs. Gold Scrimmage at the Sabres' July Development Camp, and then led the club in scoring with another 4+3 in four games at the NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, MI before setting sail on his third year of junior hockey.
Baptiste combines elements of speed, grit and obvious offense that should give him plenty of versatility when he;s ready to make the pro jump. For now, though, Baptiste will likely return to the Ontario League for a fourth and final season. He's expected to be a serious challenger for spot on Canada entry for the 2014 World Junior Championship.
Austin, 20, signed his deal earlier in the week following an excellent season on the London Knights' blue line. The 6-foot-4, 225-pounder set career highs with nine goals and 33 points while placing sixth in the league with a plus-51 rating. He's a shutdown, stay-at-home defender with good mobility for a big man. He's set to provide dependable organizational depth for the next three years, beginning with a role in Rochester in 2014-15.
The two signings leave Logan Nelson (2012, fifth round) as the remaining Sabres property needing to be inked by the June 1 deadline.