You know who I’ve been impressed with this season more than the last few (save the Tylers during their last season in the Dub)? Our prospects and farm boys. Let’s talk about them.
Zack Kassian (6’3″, 215lbs., RW/2009-2010 Stats: 9G + 19A in 35GP, 77 PIMS)
That’s what Kassian does when he’s not scoring goals. Goddamn, that was a pretty fight.
Fresh off his 20-game suspension for an ugly hit I definitely did not like, I expect Kassian to change his game to be just as physical and punishing, but less reckless. As long as he walks the line and does not cross it, I’ll be looking forward to every shift he takes.
Luke Adam (6’1″, 215lbs., C/2009-2010 Stats: 47G + 40A [daaamn] in 53GP, 75 PIMS)
Holy hell, look at that kid’s numbers this season. Good for third in the QMJHL in scoring, Adam has been tearing it up since the start of the season and never looked back. It’s too bad he had to make the Canadian WJC team and put up 4G + 4A there, or there’s a serious chance he’d be leading the Q in scoring.
The stigma exists that success in the Q doesn’t automatically translate to success in the NHL, but Adam seems to play a very NHL-friendly game. Here’s hoping he brings the magic to the Sabres, who are in desperate need of a big, strong, skilled center.
Tyler Ennis (5’9″, 163lbs., C/2009-2010 Stats: 19G + 40A in 61 games, 10 PIMS)
What he did in Medicine Hat (WHL) last season – get a drool hanky ready:
What I hope to see him do a lot of for the Sabres:
Ennis has been a demon on skates in his rookie season in the AHL. Briere 2.0 is the only rookie in the top 20 scorers of the league, and was recently knocked out of the top ten due to his being concussed from a cross-check to the maw.
He’s fast, he’s determined, he has filthy hands and vision, and he likes punk rock…what’s not to love?
Mike Weber (6’2″, 199lbs., D/2009-2010 Stats: 4G + 14A in 64GP, 130PIMS)
Weber is a defenseman that many Sabres fans feel is ready to make the jump, and rightfully so. Two seasons ago he looked ready, especially during his call-up to close out the Sabres season. Paired with Andrej Sekera, the kids took over top pair duties and performed with poise. But an injury-riddled season last year ruined all the good momentum he had going.
This year, Weber is resurgent with a strong game and respectable stats. His defense has improved, and he doesn’t take a ton of dumb minors anymore. It’s about time he made the big time.
Nick Crawford (6’1″, 183 lbs., D/2009-2010 Stats: 11G + 57A [daaamn] in 65GP, 22PIMS) and Brayden McNabb (6’4″, 210lbs., D/2009-2010 Stats: 17G + 39A in 61GP, 117PIMS)
These are two guys who could be important contributors on the Sabres blueline in the coming years. Nick Crawford just helped the steamrolling Barrie Colts capture the OHL’s best regular season record trophy, and Brayden McNabb has already clinched a playoff spot with the WHL’s Kootenay Ice. Playing two different roles, Crawford likes to put up boffo numbers on the score sheet while McNabb prefers to put up mondo PIMS as he dishes out pugilistic justice.
With Mike Weber likely to make the jump to the Sabres next season (which I am very excited about), Nick Crawford will definitely replace him in Portland followed by McNabb in 2011.
The future certainly seems bright for Sabres fans. Let’s see how bright it really is starting next summer. Getcha shades ready.