The Buffalo Sabres annual development camp is over. The prospects no longer wake up early to train with navy seals. Many prospects are heading back to college or their junior teams but there were a few that stood out and may have earned themselves an invitation to training camp. Head coach Lindy Ruff is excited about the talent he had at camp this year and looking forward to the prospects progressing.
“I think we’ve got as heavy a load of talent as we’ve ever had here. Some good skill and good size” ~ Lindy Ruff
Judging by the 5000 fans in attendance for the “blue and gold” scrimmage, it appears the fans are just as excited as the organization. Two of the biggest attractions at camp were the two first round draft picks Mikhail Grigorenko (12th) and Zemgus Girgensons (14th) who were paired on a line together with 2011
first round draft pick Joel Armia, and the trio didn’t disappoint. All three looked exceptional out on the ice and were well ahead of other prospects. The biggest surprise of the three was Girgensons, who showed he too is capable of making the jump to the NHL. He impressed the Sabres so much he was handed a three year entry-level contract. After a nifty goal scored during the scrimmage he showed he has the moves and got people talking that he outplayed Grigorenko. With his entry level deal it almost assures the fact fans will get to see Girgensons in blue and gold sometime this season. Whether he starts the year off in Buffalo or Rochester he should have no trouble adjusting. It was tough for Girgensons to walk away from the University of Vermont but in the end Girgensons said “He was happy to be here”.
Grigorenko was able to dominate during the shootout, which dazzled fans.
Another nice surprise was last minute invite Jamie Wise. Proof of his eleventh hour inclusion was the fact that his name wasn’t even on the roster list. After his hat-trick in the scrimmage for team blue, fans should get used to hearing about this guy. There was talk the he may have impressed enough to earn himself a contract to play next season in Rochester. While many flogged to the scrimmage to see Cody Hodgson and other players already on the team for next season, Wise stole the show. Ruff described him as “having a little Kaleta in him” as he likes to hit.
It was fun, a good experience, but tough” “I just went out there and tried to do the things no one else wanted to do and I think it worked out well” ~Jame Wise
The fact Wise is so dedicated to the little things shows a lot about his character and may have been enough to earn him an invite to the main camp.
Apart from working out with Navy Seals and doing on ice workouts the 39 prospects did some studying. They studied the type of conditioning programs that the regular Sabres went through and focused on NHL rules and the fundamentals to make them successful in the NHL. Another camp stand out was Fredrick Roy, son of famous NHLer Patrick Roy.
Like Wise, Roy was in the camp purely on a try out basis. But he too may have done enough to earn a invite to the main camp. The way he skated around during the scrimmage left many scratching their heads as to why he went un-drafted. He played physical and showed blazing side even keeping up with Grigorenko and Armia for a few shifts. Last season Roy played in the QMJHL alongside fellow prospect Grigorenko. The two played on a line together and Roy managed to record 92 points. Much like Wise, there is talk Roy will be given a contract to play in Rochester. Fredrick uses the same motto his father did during his playing days:
“I give my heart and soul to the team I’m playing with”
Others who impressed include Marcus Foligno who played for the Sabres briefly at the end of the season. During camp you could tell he had improved and is ready to jump into the NHL on a full time bases. And Luke Adam who may be on his last chance to win over a spot. He played mostly on the wing during camp and seemed more and more comfortable. Adam’s skating had improved significantly.
While many went to training camp and the scrimmage hoping to get an extra glimpse of NHL stars like Hodgson or Rochester Americans Luke Adam and Marcus Foligno, fans went away knowing a few more names. The future of the Sabres seems to be coming along as GM Darcy Regier has been adding players with more character and determination to win. Check out highlights from development camp:
Caitlin is a former goaltender who turned journalist after a few too many concussions. She’s a Buffalo Sabres fan living in the hockey crazed market of Toronto. She’s spent time writing with Chat Sports, Fansided and The Fourth Period. Her work has been featured on Puck Daddy, Bleacher Report, Sports Illustrated and Grantland among others.