The Buffalo Sabres wrapped up their prospect camp this weekend with a pair of games against the Boston Bruins and the New Jersey Devils. Jack Quinn, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, J-J Peterka and Brett Murray made an impact during pre-training camp play. The focus now turns to the main portion of preseason preparedness.
On that note, Jack Eichel will be reporting to the Sabres for routine physicals along with all of his teammates Wednesday. Training camp will get underway the next day. In other news, prospect Mattias Samuelsson was injured over the weekend while blocking a shot and although he missed the second game on Sunday, Quinn is not nursing an injury, the team reports.
As always during this time of the season, there’s lots of news to report, so let’s get to it.
Four Sabres’ Prospects Standout
The Sabres went 1-1 over the weekend with a Friday night, 3-0 win over the Devils, followed by a 5-2 loss to the Bruins on Sunday. All games at the Prospects Challenge took place at the LECOM Harborcenter in Buffalo.
Murray opened the scoring both nights and is off to a good start in tuning up his game. He will fight for a roster spot this season after leading the American Hockey League’s (AHL) Rochester Americans in scoring with 20 points in 27 games last season. Luukkonen was solid in net for the first game, turning aside all 22 shots against, in his first game since sustaining an ankle injury last season.
Other notables: Peterka sniped two goals over the weekend in his first couple of games wearing the Blue and Gold jersey and Quinn was not unnoticeable on the ice, playing big-time minutes as the top centerman, and laying a few hits on occasion.
Samuelsson Leaves Game Early
A key defensive prospect in the system had some early season injury troubles after going down to block a shot late in the win over the Devils. He left with 1:29 left in the game, hobbling off the ice and down the tunnel to the dressing room. After the game, coach Seth Appert said he seemed OK. He did not play in the second game of the Prospects Challenge.
Samuelsson was given the “A” on his jersey, making him alternate captain for the game. He played well along with his partner Oskari Laskssonen. Appert had high praise for the pair following the game, telling nhl.com that “they both did a really good job, provided a calming presence for us.”
Eichel in Town for a Physical
Eichel will report alongside his teammates this week to the Sabres training camp for a physical, someone close to the player told the Associated Press. Talks between the player and the team have been kept under wraps lately, with not much news coming out on a potential trade for the disgruntled team captain. The 24-year-old disagrees with the Sabres’ approach to dealing with his neck injury, which he suffered in a game last season. The situation between the young American and the Sabres could prove to be a game-changer for the NHL.
Despite actively shopping his services around the league, general manager Kevyn Adams said in July that the potential distraction for the team, if Eichel is not traded by the time training camp begins, doesn’t worry him. Eichel fired his previous agents Peter Fish and Peter Donatelli from the firm Global Hockey Consultants and hired Pat Brisson of the Creative Artists Agency at the end of August.
As training camp begins this week, it’s hard to ignore the looming dispute that casts a shadow over the entire process of selecting this season’s roster. It’s unlikely Eichel will pass his physical with an untreated herniated disc in his neck, so we can expect that he will be out for practices and scrimmages in the lead-up to preseason games.
The Sabres will play six preseason games starting on Sept. 28 against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The last game is scheduled for Oct. 9 against the Detroit Red Wings. The team will play two games against each of these opponents as well as two against the Pittsburgh Penguins before the regular season begins at home against the Montreal Canadiens, Oct. 14.
Mike Carter is a freelance writer and contributor for the Buffalo Sabres with The Hockey Writers and NHLTradeRumors.Me He is @mikecarterlives on Twitter. Mike has been writing professionally since 2012, with stints as a reporter in northern British Columbia and Edmonton, Alberta. He now calls Salmon Arm, B.C. home.