A Limited Account Of Development Camp
I only managed to make it Weds. and Thurs. to the prospect development camp that the Sabres held at Nigara University’s Dwyer Arena (go watch some Purple Eagles games there, decent little rink), but I did get to see some revealing traits and performance quirks from the youngins in the Sabres’ pipeline.
One thing you’re going to notice is my (expected?) omission of Tyler Myers, Tyler Ennis, Nathan Gerbe, and Chris Butler from this post. They had all spent time in Buffalo last season to some extent or another, so there’s no reason to discuss how they looked among a bunch of AHLers or lower. I also excluded any of last season’s Pirates in favor of focusing on the fresh-to-the-AHL bunch or those prospects still in juniors or college.
ELC or no ELC, there’d be no way he plays for the Sabres this season. He’s got a 100% NHL-ready shot and physical game, but his skating (while drastically improved since the Memorial Cup) still needs work and he was guilty of staring at the puck more than once. However, he was very attentive when not in the play or on the ice. One great thing about him is it was impossible to get him off the puck along the boards.
This upcoming season will be his first in the AHL and it ought to be a dandy. Adam displays all the necessary traits to make it up to the next level – quick release, laser snap shot, good play reading, and a bullish style. During Thursday’s scrimmage, he had two goals of varying skill. His first, he read the play exactly and slammed a one-timer home into an empty side of the net. His second, he launched a missile at Connor Knapp which screamed into the net.
Bold prediction: Outside of whether or not Nathan Gerbe is demoted back to Portland or traded (if he’s demoted, he’s the de facto first call-up), Luke Adam will be the first Pirate called up for offensive injury relief.
Mark Pysyk and Alex Biega
Both young men showed great poise and direction in the defensive zone. Pysyk showed an affinity for breaking up rushes, while Biega has a cool head on his shoulders which he uses to vocally lead his troops. Pysyk may have a bit of a dirty streak we don’t know about, partially slew-footing Marcus Foligno after a big hit from the Sudbury Wolf. I expect Biega to be a big contributor on defense for the Pirates, and I am eager to see what Pysyk can do while healthy.
Corey Tropp and Jacob Lagace
Tropp and Lagace present two opposite sides of the spectrum – Tropp is willing to battle through defenders while Lagace tries to weasel around or slide inside the coverage. Both players created ample opportunities for themselves though with their speed. Tropp shows a heightened willingness to backcheck, however. I’m fully expecting Tropp will be slotted one line ahead of Lagace in Portland.
Nick Eno, Brad Eidsness, and Connor Knapp
I’m going to say right now that I don’t expect Eno to ever have a fruitful NHL career. I also see Eidsness and Knapp being the next 1-2 goaltending punch in Portland once Enroth graduates. The scrimmage on Thursday showed me that Eno has a five-hole the size of Erie County, Eidsness is slow to react to rebounds, and Knapp is too damn big for his own good. Eno needs to work on his overall speed, Eidsness needs to control his rebounds better, and Knapp needs to continue reigning in his big self.
Kevin Sundher, Gregg Sutch, and Riley Boychuk
Sundher had flashes of talent and determination I liked and his head seems mounted on a swivel, Sutch focused a lot on the banging and grinding play, and Boychuk looks like the 7th round pick he is. That’s about all I have to say for those three, although I’m excited to see how Sundher does in his coming years – he’s a pick that could be a 3rd round steal.
The way I describe Marcus Foligno to my friends is, imagine if Mike Foligno’s offensive talent and mean streak were distilled and bestowed upon his sons. Nick, the older of the two and an Ottawa Senator, received his dad’s scoring abilities while Marcus, the Sabres’ prospect, got his dad’s gnarly temper. Marcus is only going to make it to the NHL as a fourth-liner unless something miraculous happens.
I can’t wait for training camp to start up, but for now I eagerly await what Darcy Regier is going to do with all the cap space left over after he presumably signs both Tim Kennedy and Patty Kaleta.