Sabres announce Prospects Challenge roster

A gaggle of Sabres rookies are set to report this week for camp and a quick skate together before the start of the Prospects Challenge, taking place Sept. 8-11 at HarborCenter.

Back in July, I took a stab and projecting the Sabres Prospects Challenge roster. While it proved quite accurate and I'd like to sit here and pat myself on the back, it really isn't that scientific of an exercise.

As suggested in that article, the club was indeed forced to look outside the Buffalo and Rochester organizations to fill out its roster as the Sabres have a heavy dose of collegiate prospects hitting the books instead of the ice.

Among the four invites is Carl Neill, an offensive-minded defenseman who recently completed his four-year QMJHL career with the Charlottetown Islanders. Before joining the Islanders, Neill served as captain of the Sherbrooke Phoenix.

Neill was passed over in his initial draft year, but after attending Calgary Flames Development Camp in 2014 and having an excellent 19-year-old season, the 6-foot-1, 201-pound right-hander was scooped up by Vancouver with the 144th pick in 2015.

Known for racking up loads of assists, Neill's final three QMJHL seasons saw him post 40, 50 and 69 points. He is set to continue his career as a student at Concordia University (CIS), but first he'll get to wear an NHL jersey at the Prospects Challenge.

Joining Neill as a free agent invite on the blueline is scrappy, mobile WHL product Arvin Atwal, who amassed 10 fighting majors last year with the ECHL's Cincinatti Cyclones. In additional to his pugilism, Atwal amassed 17 points (2+15) and a team-high plus-11 rating in 39 appearances with the Cyclones after missing the team's first 33 games.

Brought up in the Vancouver Giants organization, Atwal had his best WHL season with Lethbridge as a 20-year-old in 2015-16, snatching 11 goals, 50 points and a plus-22 rating in 71 games with the Hurricanes. He is currently under contract with Cincinnati for 2017-18.

Harvard graduate Colin Blackwell will also skate for the Sabres. The 24-year-old forward completed his four-year ECAC career in 2016, compiling 19 goals and 58 points in 94 games with the Crimson. He notched 11 points (4+7) last season as a professional rookie with the AHL's San Jose Barracuda, and is currently a free agent. Blackwell was originally drafted by San Jose in the seventh round (194th overall) of the 2011 draft.

A Massachusetts high school standout with St. John's Prep prior to enrolling at Harvard, Blackwell is on the smaller side at 5-foot-9 but brings loads of speed to the lineup.

Rounding out the list of invites is Sudbury Wolves goaltender Jake McGrath, who previously skated with the Sabres prospects at July's Development Camp. McGrath posted a 17-18-6 record with a 3.77 GAA and .896 save% last season with the Wolves. He finished the year playing with Canada at 2017 IIHF World Under-18 Championship prior to getting passed over at the 2017 draft.

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