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Sabres Prospects Looking to Shine at Camp

July 8, 2011
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As most members of the Buffalo Sabres relax by their pools this summer, the organization’s prospects are hard at work.  Lindy Ruff and his associates are running their annual development camp at Niagara University this week.  This is a great time for future Sabres to showcase their skills in front of their coaches directly, as well as learn about what it takes to be an NHL player.

Most prospects are in attendance.  One exception is Buffalo’s newest first-round pick, winger Joel Armia, who was excused from camp to work out with the Finnish national team.   Also at the camp is Sabres forward Tyler Ennis, the only full-time member of the team in attendance, and he is using it as a way to become a leader as he matures into an NHL veteran.

“My first camps there were guys here who had played in the NHL, and I know I learned a lot from them,” Ennis said. “They always had a good attitude, so I’m just going to try and work hard, have a positive attitude and be respectful to all these young guys, try to be a good role model for them.”

There are plenty of intriguing players who have a solid shot of playing in Buffalo this year.  Center Luke Adam, the team’s second-round pick in 2008, could be atop the list.  He is a natural center, a position at which the Sabres currently have a need. The reigning AHL rookie of the year got his first taste of the NHL this past season, tallying three goals and an assist in 19 games.  He seemed to have trouble getting accustomed to the speed of the NHL game, and is spending the summer doing everything he can to get a full-time promotion:

“Going into training camp my goal is to be on this team,” said Adam. “There’s no second thought in my head right now that I would want to play in the American League next year. I want to play in the NHL and I’m putting in a hard summer of work and I’m going to do everything in my power to earn a spot here in training camp.”

Another name being talked about is the Sabres’ 2009 first-rounder, Zack Kassian, a physical winger who had a good preseason for the Sabres last year before going back to the OHL.  He would give the Sabres more of an edge on account of his toughness, yet would also bring scoring touch to the team.  The 20-year-old amassed 77 points (26+51) in 56 games last season for Windsor, and was a PPG player in 16 playoff games, before ending up with Buffalo’s ex-AHL affiliate, Portland, to end the year.  If Kassian plays well in the preseason, he could find his way onto Buffalo’s roster; however, current odds are in favor of him starting in Rochester to fine-tune his game.

The Sabres seem like a team loaded with future NHL talent, including a solid group of blue-liners led by Brayden Mcnabb, TJ Brennan and Mark Psysk, and depth at forward with Adam, Kassian, Marcus Foligno, Daniel Catenacci, Corey Tropp and Jacob Lagace all in attendance at this week’s camp.  The problem is that there’s not enough room for all of these players in Buffalo, and that’s a beautiful thing.

Image courtesy of the Buffalo News.

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