Sabres Development Camp: Five Players to Watch

The Buffalo Sabres are set to begin their Prospect Development Camp today at their new HARBORCENTER facility. Over the next week the top prospects in the system will try to make an impression on the coaching staff and management. Fans will get the opportunity to see what the future of the Sabres looks like throughout camp. This may be the only time that fans get a look at these players before they begin their regular season throughout the world.

The Prospect Development Camp roster and schedule can be found here on the Sabres website. While some players are looking to make a good first impression or show improvement over the last year; others are trying to make a first impression to earn a roster spot in training camp. These are five players that will be important to follow throughout camp to see how they perform.

Brendan Guhle

The 2015 second round pick was a stand out in development and training camp last season. He was potentially on the verge of shockingly earning a roster spot before suffering an injury from a big hit by Dion Phaneuf in a pre-season game. Guhle is arguably the Sabres top prospect in the system and without a doubt the top defensive prospect. The Alberta native was impressive again last season for Prince Albert of the Western Hockey League.

Guhle will certainly be in the running again to earn a roster spot at training camp. Buffalo is in a weird spot in regards to the 19-year-old’s playing status next season. If he doesn’t make the club out of camp he’ll need to be returned to Prince Albert again. He’s unable to play in the American Hockey League next season and seems too far in his development for the WHL. It’ll be interesting to see if the Sabres take that into account when making a decision on Guhle. Lastly, it’ll be important to see if he comes into camp with some more weight added to his frame. That was one of the Sabres concerns as he returned to juniors last year.

Alex Nylander

The 2016 first round pick will likely be the talk of camp. Similar to Guhle, Nylander will be looking to make a first impression to attempt to earn a roster spot in training camp. The young Swede will catch the eyes of fans immediately with his speed and elite level skill. Playing against his peers it wouldn’t be shocking to the Nylander dominate his competition and perhaps be the best player in camp. The real test should come in training camp when he goes up against NHL level players.

Nylander does have the ability to go and play in Rochester of the AHL if he doesn’t make the Sabres. He can also go back to juniors or Sweden, however, the most likely destination would be Rochester. The Sabres seem to pretty set with their forwards this season, especially if they’re able to lock up Jimmy Vesey. Nylander would need to have a huge development and training camp to be considered for a roster spot.

Justin Bailey [photo: David Chan]
Justin Bailey [photo: David Chan]

Justin Bailey

Bailey is another young player hoping to earn a roster spot come September. The Buffalo native is farther in his development than the previous two mentioned players. Bailey played in a handful of games for the Sabres last season. He made a great impression on the organization during his time with the big club.

The 21-year-old started to dominate the AHL at the end of last season with his size and speed. He scored 20 goals and 45 points in 70 games in his rookie season with Rochester. Bailey should be one of the if not the best player on the ice over the next week. It’s expected to see him dominate the way Sam Reinhart did in his second development camp last year.

Rasmus Asplund

This week will be the first time we get to see the player that General Manager Tim Murray coveted in this past draft. Asplund was the player Murray was eager to get his hands on and traded with the Florida Panthers as part of Dmitry Kulikov-Mark Pysyk trade to move up to draft him. The Swedish native had a good World Junior tournament playing alongside Alex Nylander. We’ll see if the Sabres pair the two again and bring back the chemistry.

Asplund will likely spend at least the next two years playing for his professional team in Sweden. However with the circumstances surrounding his selection, he’ll be monitored to see if the main piece in the trade pans out for the organization down the road.

Giorgio Estephan

The 2015 sixth round pick turned some heads last season playing for Lethbridge of the WHL. Estephan recorded 30 goals and 74 points in 59 games last season. He’s been a pleasant surprise for where he was selected. He’s currently in the discussion for the top center in the prospect pool with newly drafted Asplund. The Edmonton native is very shifty and highly skilled offensively. He’s another player with a ton of skill and has a high hockey sense.

Estephan will be interesting to watch to see how well he performs throughout the week. He’ll return to the WHL after camp and look to continue to build on his strong performance last season. Estephan could be on of those special late round picks that work out very well.

The Sabres prospect pool is full of speed and skill. It’ll be fun to see all the young players come together and showcase their talent throughout the next week.