Sabres load up for another Traverse City run

You can’t say the Sabres haven’t won anything. They enter this year’s Traverse City Prospect Tournament as the defending champions after their triumph in 2011.

Buffalo’s title defense was delayed after last season’s lockout and they may benefit from the delay as they are prepared to ice a scary talented roster for the 2013 tourney. Mikhail Grigorenko will lead Buffalo’s other top prospects including; Joel Armia, Zemgus Girgensons, Johan Larsson, Rasmus Ristolainen, Nikita Zadorov and others in search of another tournament championship.

Mark Pysyk is one of the “vets” on Buffalo’s Traverse City roster.

Sending stacked rosters isn’t necessarily something that only the Sabres participate in. Each team manages to send a combination of pro ready prospects, new draft picks and players who have seen pro ice time to the tourney. It just so happens that Buffalo makes sure to construct a roster of their best prospects.

In 2011 the top line of Luke Adam, Marcus Foligno and Zack Kassian bullied their way through the rest of the tournament and claimed the first championship the franchise has ever seen.* Considering that Armia, Girgensons, Grigorenko and Larsson are amongst those participating, I think the Sabres are betting on bringing back another championship.

In addition to Girgensons, Grigorenko and Larsson – all who played professionally last year – Buffalo has a pair of NHL defensemen (Chad Ruhwedel and Mark Pysyk) to skate along with another NHL-ready player in Ristolainen. Continue reading

Sabres eyeing Traverse City final

A pair of 6-3 wins have the Buffalo Sabres prospects in line for a berth in the championship game at the Traverse City Prospect Tournament. UPDATE: The Sabres tweeted that they have secured a berth in the championship game. They will play the Rangers at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

Nick Crawford leads the Sabres prospects with two goals and an assist in Traverse City.

Buffalo sits 2-0 after wins over Minnesota and Columbus this weekend. The Rangers also went 2-0 over the weekend and it appears both teams are set for a final showdown. Barring a blowout loss by either side, there should be nothing that eliminates them after round robin play.

Although both games bore the same score, there were few similarities beyond that. Buffalo had to come back after giving up two early goals against Minnesota. Meanwhile, the Sabres held control for much of their win over Columbus. Kevin Snow has two great write ups of both wins on the Sabres website, accompanied by video highlights. In addition, Phil from Black & Blue & Gold also has video highlights posted. I will defer to them on in-depth game coverage.

The Sabres final round robin game is against Detroit tomorrow afternoon and the Championship game will be played at 7 p.m. on Sunday. The game will be televised on MSG. The Rangers sent a crew to cover all of their games at the tournament, they have also been rebroadcast on NHL Network. Continue reading