The Sabres are hosting their annual Development Camp this week, perhaps you’ve heard. The week’s festivities will be capped by Friday’s Blue-Gold scrimmage and Sunday’s three-on-three tournament.Development Camp stream would be and easy win for the Sabres
So far there have been all sorts of #fun and #engaging parts of the week as we’ve seen grainy videos shot at terrible angles of prospects doing hockey things. Friday’s scrimmage will provide fans their first chance to see Jack Eichel (and all the other prospects) in game action. It’s a quasi-debut of the franchise-altering prospect and the team is all but guaranteed to out-draw last year’s scrimmage which had fans seated in the upper deck of the arena.
The only way you can see the game, however, is to make your way to First Niagara Center. Tickets are $10 and proceeds are going to charity. All-in-all this is a good way to capitalize on an event that will come with plenty of fan frenzy while giving back to the community. Unlike last season, the Sabres will not be providing a stream for Friday’s scrimmage which has disappointed a fair segment of the fanbase. Particularly those who don’t live in Buffalo.
The reasons for the Sabres failing to stream Friday’s game haven’t been made public. I imagine the reasoning is close to the justification Lewis Black once gave for the lack of a national energy policy.
Because it’s hard. It’s really hard. Makes me want to go poopie. – Lewis Black
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The Sabres annual prospect’s scrimmage came and went last night with a sloppy 5-1 win for Team White.
In a slight change from recent years the scrimmage was held early in the week and the results on the ice reflected that change. With only two ice sessions as a group, the majority of the prospects struggled to find chemistry in a game setting. While the players with more developmental and professional experience stood out for obvious reasons, there were very few true standouts simply based on the disjointed nature of the game that took over at times.
There were some obvious bright spots as one might expect in a six-goal game although a majority of the scoring happened to be done by undrafted camp invites while the organization’s prospects contributed in other ways.
Two of the most obvious standouts were Nikita Zadorov and Rasmus Ristolainen. The two towering defensemen were split between the two squads but they were certainly noticeable when they were on the ice. Zadorov was very active joining the rush and even chipped in with an assist as his booming slapshot caught the end boards and wound up on Jerome Leduc’s tape for a tap in to open the scoring.
Zadorov’s game appeared measured to me as he was picking his spots and recovering well when he joined the rush. He might need to practice a bit more discretion at times but he continued to display the active style that has made him such an attractive prospect. Furthermore, his physical game wasn’t lacking throughout the scrimmage.
Ristolainen was as steady as you might expect a player who split the year between Buffalo and Rochester despite being fresh out of the draft. Since both teams had only five defensemen on their roster the minutes piled up for each and Ristolainen was certainly a beneficiary of that. I think he is a safe bet to pencil into a top-six spot entering training camp as his second professional season is set to begin.
The biggest star of last night’s scrimmage didn’t even see the ice after the halfway mark of the second period. Linus Ullmark was far and away the most impressive goaltender of the four who dressed last night. Continue reading →
Development Camp is an interesting event for a few reasons. It offers onlookers their first look at many of a team’s recent draft picks mixed in with other organizational prospects. With so many players scattered across the world, it’s often the only time that all of these players are in the same location at once.
The camp also presents an interesting mix of players. Each year there’s at least one or two professionals who have seen considerable time in the NHL but their entry level contract keeps them in the group of players expected at camp. The camp is also comprised of junior and collegiate-aged players, for the most part. So it can be hard to gauge where some players are developmentally since they aren’t playing against men. Some reactions to the week’s highlights may need to be tempered due to that last point.
Even if it’s just a mid-July gathering of kids who might be as far away as four years from an NHL game, it’s still representative of the direction the organization is heading. Seven first round picks are in attendance and eight more second round selections from the last three drafts. That group includes players like Zemgus Girgensons and Rasmus Ristolainen, a pair of players who are likely penciled into the Sabres’ opening night roster at this point. While they’ll certainly stand out due to where they are on the development curve, my interest in them is much lower than other individuals and groups.
Today’s scrimmage is obviously the best opportunity for fans and coaches to see the players in a game setting, but Friday’s three-on-three tournament will likely yield some interesting results as well. The two game settings are mixed in with a week’s worth of practice that will see the players running through a host of drills. It’s an event that allows the organization to show their prospects how they’ll be expected to operate as professionals while also getting them on the ice for a week. Given the glut of talent that is present at camp, I’ll be keeping my eye on a handful of players this evening and Friday morning (should I make it downtown): Continue reading →
It was more of the same for the Sabres prospects as they worked through the third day of the annual summer camp.
Not much differed from the first two sessions with a steady mix of full-ice flow drills mixed with more situational settings as Thursday’s Blue Gold scrimmage nears. Each set of prospects had their moments of wowing the sizeable crowd on Wednesday.
Zemgus Girgensons received the biggest ovation, with even a few fans standing to applaud his nifty goal in a one-on-one drill. Girgensons turned Jake McCabe inside out, used his body to force the defenseman out of the play and then went forehand-backhand on Connor Knapp for the tally.
Girgensons simple game is easily noticeable and certainly appeals to most Buffalo fans who enjoy watching an honest, hard working kid. He has been vocal in every single drill this week and hasn’t shied away from contact if in the vicinity. Expect to see him throw his weight around a bit in the scrimmage.
Cody Hodgson also had a few moments in the sun during the later session of the day, garnering a nice response on a beauty of a wrist shot early in the gold team session. Hodsgon’s line with Luke Adam and Corey Tropp is easily the most impressive trio in camp simply due to their time together and experience against professional competition. Continue reading →