Sabres Development Camp: Day two recap

Even though there has only been two days worth of practice, it is probably safe to say the blue squad is a deeper and more talented bunch than those in gold at Sabres Development Camp.

With an opportunity to watch the gold group’s practice today I noticed that there is a little less flash as compared to the blue team anchored by Mikhail Grigorenko and Zemgus Girgensons. The gold team’s top set of players – Luke Adam, Cody Hodgson and Corey Tropp – certainly has the most fluidity in terms of chemistry, but the rest of the squad lacks the polish of the blue team.

Day two of camp was a little more focused on game scenarios and playing in traffic as compared to day one. There was still a fair amount of flow drills done in the early going, but the latter half of the ice time was primarily centered in a scrimmage setting.

The Adam, Hodgson, Tropp trio was heads and shoulders above the rest of the group during most of the drills. They were particularly dangerous in odd-man situations, shredding the defense on a few occasions during three-on-two drills. They also had success during the final four-on-four scrimmage to close the session.

On the whole, the gold team looked a little disjointed at times during the day and there was certainly an obvious lack of chemistry from top to bottom. I’d venture a guess that two days of 4:30 wakeup calls and SEAL training coupled with a full on-ice practice with conditioning to follow would kick anyone’s ass. So perhaps that, plus the fact that a vast majority of these players have never played together has something to do with the sloppy play. Continue reading

Sundher inked to enrty-level deal

Sundher has piled up points while filling a leadership role for Victoria/Chilliwack over the past two seasons.

The Buffalo Sabres signed Kevin Sundher to an entry-level contract this afternoon. The signing will bring another supremely talented prospect into the organization beginning next season.

Sundher is currently playing in his fifth full season with the Victoria (formerly Chilliwack) organization and will be making the jump to the AHL next season. His speed and playmaking ability have been key in Sundher’s offensive explosion over the past two seasons. In 2010-11 he picked up 24 goals, 52 assists and 93 penalty minutes in 70 games. Through 33 games this season he has 21 goals and 33 assists. He is just short of a point-per-game player for his career, a stat that will likely improve by season’s end.

While Sundher isn’t a top-end talent like Zack Kassian or Luke Adam, he is part of the recent run of drafts expected to change some of the culture in the Buffalo organization. Organizationally, the Sabres are terribly thin at center. From their first line through Rochester, the Sabres have little talent at the position. While Sundher doesn’t have much size (6’0”, 177), he has quite a bit of offensive talent at his disposal. Along with Dan Catenacci and Steven Shipley, the Sabres have some help coming through the pipeline. While none of the three are an elite talent, their skill lends plenty of depth to a position where the Sabres are lacking. The fact that Buffalo was proactive in getting him under contract early is indicative of that.

Although Sundher was passed over regarding Canada’s 2012 World Junior roster, his talent is not to be ignored. He is wearing a letter for Victoria (a duty carried over from Chilliwack), showing clear leadership potential. If Victoria makes an early playoff exit, or misses them altogether, Sundher will have the opportunity to make a late-season appearance in Rochester. The Amerks could bring him on under an ATO much like they did with Luke Adam and Zack Kassian in the past two seasons. The amateur tryout offer would keep Sundher’s ELC from activating while allowing him to play against men for a short time prior to the 2012-13 season.

The “playing against men” chorus is surely reminiscent from Adam and Kassian’s development, the same goes for Marcus Foligno and Bryaden McNabb.Previous development camp appearances have provided Sundher to display his impressive speed and offensive ability in WNY. However, a proper evaluation of his skills will be made after playing games in AHL. Obviously a late appearance this season (even into the playoffs) would be bonus time for the pivot.

Aside from the glaring need to find a true elite center, the Sabres may be in the market for players who can contribute with the rest of their lines as well. Sundher has the speed and skill to translate to a top-six role. He may even become a more attractive option than a player like Derek Roy in the near future.