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Focus On Prospects, September 7


Hey, it’s the first installment of Focus On Prospects! This is my weekly feature which will get published every Tuesday that I’ll be covering the Portland Pirates and all the CHL and NCAA prospects the Sabres have in the system. I’ll be mostly posting excerpts of Kris Baker’s exceptional work with my own opinions and rare eye witness accounts tossed in for good measure. Let’s dive right in!

For my first piece, I’ll be outlining who’s where and playing in what league. Starting next week I’ll cover game action, stat lines, and what not.

Portland Pirates
I won’t talk much about the Pirates’ roster right now, because I’ve spent more than a half-dozen posts ruminating on their make-up, as I’ll be tackling that topic tomorrow.

There’s Zack Kassian (LW – Windsor Spitfires), Marcus Foligno (LW – Sudbury Wolves), Gregg Sutch (RW – Missisauga St. Michael’s Majors) and Steven Shipley (C – Owen Sound Attack). All Sabres fans know about Zack Kassian, whether it’s good or bad, and most know about Marcus Foligno. Gregg Sutch and Steven Shipley, however, don’t get much attention. Sutch is notable for making it this far in his career with a hearing impairment – a triumph over disability indeed. Nick Crawford is no longer an OHL player as he’s graduated on to playing for the Portland Pirates. This is Kassian’s last dance in junior, as he has a chance to shine both with the Spitfires and as a possible member of the Team Canada WJC squad.

The Sabres only have two prospects in the Q: Jerome Gauthier-Leduc (D – Rimouski Oceanic) and Cedrick Henley (LW – Val-d’Or Foreurs). Gauthier-Leduc is a flashy offensive-defenseman with an invite to the Team Canada WJC development camp, while Cedrick Henley is big. 6’5″ big.

The Sabres seem to be happy with what drafting out of the WHL has done for them lately, so they’ve gone back. Currently the team has five prospects out of the “Dub”: Brayden McNabb (D – Kootenay Ice), Corey Fienhage (D – Kamloops Blazers), Kevin Sundher (C – Chilliwack Bruins), Riley Boychuk (LW – Portland Winter Hawks), and 2010 first rounder Mark Pysyk (D – Edmonton Oil Kings). McNabb is the standout here, known for his fearsome fists and hits and booming shot. He’s an invite to the Team Canada WJC dev. camp, like Kassian and Gauthier-Leduc. Corey Fienhage left UND and the Fighting Sioux for a chance to shine. Sundher is a talented center with vision and skill, but questionable consistency. Riley Boychuk seems to be a big nasty boy who happens to be the two-time recipient of Portland’s Paul Gaustad Fitness Award. Lastly, Mark Pysyk is a guy who isn’t too flashy but instead plays a responsible defensive game.

With Corey Fienhage leaving the Fighting Sioux for the Blazers, the college prospects the Sabres have are Connor Knapp (G – Miami OH), Nick Eno (G – Bowling Green State University), and Bradley Eidsness (G – University of North Dakota) in net, Drew MacKenzie (D – University of Vermont) and Mark Adams (D – Providence College) on the blueline, and Justin Jokinen (RW – Minnesota State University, Mankato) among the forward ranks. I don’t know much about MacKenzie, Adams, or Jokinen, but I’ve kept up with the Sabres’ trio of college goalie prospects. All three have a real chance to make a name for themselves, so it’ll be fun watching them try to seize destiny.

So those are all the guys this series will be focusing on. There are one or two high school prospects I’ve omitted, but I think this list is mostly complete. Remember, if you don’t already follow Kris Baker’s work, do it already! Bookmark right now!

One Comment leave one →
  1. 09/13/10 5:31 PM

    Good things to come out of the Dub this year. Boychuk should spread his wings, Sundher will no doubt elevate his game, and MacKenzie is the giant sleeper of the bunch. Keep an eye on him. He’s going to be the man on the Hitmen blueline and in-line for a big season.

    Spotlight is on Pysyk, McNabb, and Fienhage though. The first two can maybe squeak on to Team Canada, and Fienhage is going to show the Sabres that he hasn’t lost a step despite two seasons of limited action.

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