The Buffalo Sabres announced Thursday they have agreed to terms on an entry-level contract with 2010 first-round pick (23rd overall), D Mark Pysyk.
Pysyk (6’2″, 182 lbs) recently wrapped up his third season of major-junior hockey with the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings. The gritty, young defenseman who was ranked 7th among all North American skaters in the 2010 Entry-Draft was captain for the Oil Kings and led the team’s defenseman in scoring this season with 40 points (6G 34A) and was an impressive +29 in 63 games played.
The 19-year old remains too young to be eligible to play for the Sabres’ AHL affiliate Portland Pirates next season but will have a chance to make the NHL club out of training camp. In all likelihood, Pysyk will return to the Oil Kings for his fourth season in 2011/12 and have an opportunity to improve upon an already impressive career (19G 68A in 187 games) and potentially lead to team deep into the WHL playoffs. Even more importantly, Pysyk will have a good chance to make Team Canada’s roster for the 2012 World Junior Championship to further display his talents.
The Sabres have been very proactive with the signings of their best assets so far this past year as Pysyk now joins the likes of Zack Kassian, Brayden McNabb and Marcus Foligno as the team’s top prospects to recently ink a deal with the team. This may be seen as further example of how things are now different in Buffalo under the new ownership of Terry Pegula and is another step forward for a team showing the NHL they mean business.
Along with the Pysyk signing, the Sabres also announced they have relieved long-time Associate Coach Brian McCutcheon.
McCutcheon joined head coach Lindy Ruff’s coaching staff in 2000 as the head coach of the Rochester Americans — the Sabres’ AHL affiliate at the time — and has since moved his up onto the Sabres bench.
This move has been made in an effort by Ruff to shake things up a bit on the bench and has now sparked rumors that former Sabre captain and current assistant coach of the Anaheim Ducks Mike Foligno could fill the role vacated by McCutcheon. Folingo’s youngest son Marcus was drafted by the Sabres in 2009 and it has been said he would like to move back to his former team to be closer to his sons on the east coast (his son Nick plays for the Ottawa Senators).
There has also been talk that the Sabres may promote from within to fill the coaching role by hiring local product Kevyn Adams who currently serves as the team’s development coach.
McCutcheon’s future with the organization has yet to be stated. However, some have said he may be considered to replace Kevin Dineen as head coach of the Sabres’ AHL affiliate next season, whether it be with the Portland Pirates or Rochester Americans who have been rumored to be in talks with the Sabres to purchase their former AHL team. Dineen was recently hired by the Florida Panthers as their new head coach.