The Buffalo Sabres are holding their annual prospect development camp this week, with on-ice sessions to take place at HarborCenter over the course of the next several days. The camp includes a Blue & Gold Scrimmage on Saturday, July 9 and an intra-squad French Connection Tournament on Tuesday, July 12.
Development camp offers a chance for the Buffalo Sabres organization and its fans to get a closer look at some of the team’s prospects, which includes the 2016 NHL Draft picks, as well as a handful of invited players the team may sign moving forward.
Though there isn’t the big draw of Jack Eichel or Sam Reinhart at this year’s camp, there are still plenty of players to fans can look forward to.
Four players who spent time in the NHL last season will be at camp; forwards Justin Bailey, Hudson Fasching and Evan Rodrigues will be in attendance, as well as goaltender Linus Ullmark.
Though Bailey, Rodrigues and Ullmark spent most of last season with the AHL’s Rochester Americans, they also saw limited time in the NHL. Bailey was third on the Amerks with 45 points (20 goals, 25 assists) through 70 games last season, while Rodrigues registered 30 points (9g, 21a) in 72 games. Ullmark posted a record of 10-16 with a .902 save percentage and 3.41 goals against average in his first season in North America.
The notable trio also each made their NHL debuts this past season. Bailey was pointless in eight games, while Fasching put up two points (1g, 1a) in seven his games played. Rodrigues scored his first NHL goal and added an assist in two games. Ullmark went 8-10-0 with a .913 save percentage and 2.60 GAA.
A handful of other players who spent last season with the Amerks will also be at development camp this week. This includes wingers Nicholas Baptiste, William Carrier and Jean Dupuy.
Baptiste - a 2013 draft pick - posted 28 points (13g, 15a) in 62 games in his rookie AHL season. Carrier (who was acquired via trade in 2014) recorded 30 points, which included AHL-career highs in goals and assists in just 56 games. Dupuy, who was also signed by the Sabres in 2014, scored 21 points (8g, 13a) in 74 games.
The majority of the players attending development camp are the Sabres’ draft picks from the past four years - all of the players picked up in the 2016 NHL Draft are scheduled to attend, as well as several from drafts past.
First-round selection Alexander Nylander will give Sabres fans a first glance at just what this left winger can do on the ice. Last season, Nylander recorded 75 points (28g, 47a) in 57 games with the Mississauga Steelheads of the Ontario Hockey League.
Meanwhile, second-round selection Rasmus Asplund will bring his talents to North America after recording 12 points (4g, 8a) in 46 games with Farjestad BK through 2015-16.
Third-round picks Cliff Pu (31 points in 63 games with London, OHL) and Casey Fitzgerald (defenseman out of Boston College who recored 27 points in 39 games) will also both be at the camp.
Left wings Brett Murray and Brandon Hagel, and defensemen Philip Nyberg, Vojtech Budik, Austin Osmanski, as well as center Vasily Glotov are also scheduled to be in Buffalo for development camp. Of all the Sabres’ picks, Osmanski undoubtedly is the most familiar with the area, having grown up in East Aurora and played with both the Buffalo Regals and Buffalo Jr. Sabres organizations.
Aside from the 2016 prospects, five of the Sabres’ six picks from the 2015 NHL Draft will be at this week’s camp; Jack Eichel is the lone exception.
Before joining the Amerks for a short time, center Giorgio Estephan put up 74 points in 59 games with Lethbridge last season. Stepan, as well as defensemen Brendan Guhle, William Borgen, Devante Stephens and Ivan Chukarov, will take the ice with the Sabres' best and brightest.
Continuing to go back in the Sabres draft history, seven of the team’s 2014 draft selections will be at camp. Although Reinhart isn’t on the list, there are still some notable names to watch here, including steady defender Brycen Martin, QMJHL right winger Vaclav Karabacek, and Boston College center Christopher Brown. Centers Eric Cornel and Maxwell Willman, right wing Victor Olofsson and goaltender Jonas Johansson round out the crop of 2014 picks.
In addition to Bailey and Baptiste, a trio of other players from the 2013 NHL Draft will be at this year’s camp. Center Connor Hurley, defenseman Anthony Florentino and goaltender Cal Petersen will all be in attendance. Petersen may be one of the top goalies to watch this year; he went 19-11-7 with a .927 save percentage and 2.20 GAA at Notre Dame.
Aside from Ullmark, only one 2012 draft pick is heading to camp - right winger Judd Peterson, who just wrapped up his second season at St. Cloud State. He more than tripled his point totals from his freshman year, recording 23 points (16g, 7a) in 38 games.
The rest of the roster for development camp consists of invited players - a handful of whom come from the Ontario Hockey League. The list includes a teammate of Nylander and Osmanski, who played in Mississauga - 20-year-old right wing Daniel Muzito-Bagenda. The forward put up 37 points (20G, 17A) in 63 games last season with the Steelheads and signed an AHL contract with the Amerks on July 2.
Defensemen Jalen Chatfield (Windsor,) Frank Hora (Kitchener,) and Ryan Mantha (Niagara) round out the OHLers on the camp roster. Chatfield just wrapped up his second season with the Spitfires, where he registered 37 points and 45 penalty minutes, and finished the regular season a plus-22.
Hora, another Western New York native, recently finished his third season in the OHL with the Rangers. He registered 15 points and 55 penalty minutes and was a plus-15 in the regular season. Hora has prior experience playing in the Buffalo area, including with the Jr. Sabres of the Ontario Junior Hockey League.
Mantha, originally a 2014 pick of the New York Rangers, just finished his second OHL season with the Ice Dogs after spending three years in the USHL, split between Sioux City and Indiana. He registered 10 points in 17 playoff games with Niagara, after scoring 25 points in 65 regular season games.
Two players from the QMJHL also join development camp this year - defenseman David Henley and goaltender Antoine Samuel. Henley split last season between Charlottetown and Val-D’Or and registered 138 penalty minutes as well as 18 points in 61 games played.
Samuel, 18, went 5-16-2 with Baie-Comeau this past season, recording a 3.62 GAA and .887 save percentage. The Lac Etchemin, Quebec native previously played with Shawinigan of the QMJHL and Granby of the QJHL.
Finally, the Sabres have invited several college defensemen (or alumni) to this year’s development camp.
That list begins with former Clarkson Golden Knight Paul Geiger, who just wrapped up his fourth season at the university. Over four years, Geiger appeared in 150 collegiate games, recording 51 points in that time. At 23, Geiger will be the oldest player at this year’s camp.
Another name to look for is defenseman Michael Campoli. Campoli played last season with the USA U-18 team and the USNTDP in the USHL. He’s not a big point-scorer, but was once among the top prospects in the QMJHL draft. Campoli is a dual-citizen who committed to joining Boston College this fall, and he’s said that he hopes to become a lawyer after his hockey career wraps up.
Twenty-one year-old defenseman Daniel Brickley also joins camp out of Minnesota State - Mankato. The Utah native recorded 11 points and 20 penalty minutes and was a plus-9 in 36 games in his first season playing in the WCHA.
Rounding out the development camp roster out is St. Lawrence University blueliner Nolan Gluchowski. The 22-year-old registered a plus-17 and 47 penalty minutes in 37 games this season, adding 16 points along the way. He’s previously played in the USHL with Sioux Falls and Tri-City and in the NAHL with Kalamazoo.
There you have it - a whole host of prospects to check out at this week’s Sabres development camp. On-ice workouts begin Wednesday afternoon, with sessions from 2:15 - 3:30 and 4:15 - 5:30. Thursday, sessions run from 9:50 - 11:20 a.m. and 1:20 - 2:50 p.m., with Friday’s sessions running from 9:50 - 11:15 a.m. and 1:45 - 3:05 p.m. All those sessions are free and open to the public.
Camp continues on Saturday, July 9 with the Blue & Gold Scrimmage at 1 p.m. Tickets are $20 each.
The final day of free on-ice workouts is Monday, July 11, with sessions from 9:50 - 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 - 2:50 p.m. Camp then wraps up with the French Connection Tournament at 9:15 a.m. on Tuesday, July 12. Tickets for the tournament are $10 each.
For a printable roster and to purchase tickets to either the scrimmage or the tournament, visit: http://sabres.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=888056&navid=DL|BUF|home.