Heyo, everyone. I attended the last practice of the Sabres development camp today which was simply a full-game length scrimmage between the White and Blue teams. I'm posting this here in the FanPost section rather than the front page because:
1. I only went to one day of camp, not the whole week, so all these observations will be off of a reduced sample size AND
2. This was my first time "covering" any sort of game where I had to keep track of everything live and without help from DVR, instant replay, or reading the AP report afterward - and it was kinda hard. I missed a lot of things because I was writing or inexperienced, and the 8-year old offering his own play-by-play next to me was no help when I asked if Tropp or Adam scored that goal, since he only knew who Myers and Gerbe were. THANKS FOR NOTHING, KID.
Anyway, here's my completely unprofessional review of the scrimmage:
Final Score: Blue Team 9, White Team 6 - I had $50 on white, so that was disappointing.
Goals (that I saw):
Blue - Tropp, Foligno, McNabb, Adam, Gerbe, Legace
White - Sutter, Kassian, Turnbull, Sundher, Schutz
- It was striking how much of a difference there was between the top prospects and everyone else. Ennis and Gerbe were heads and tails above the rest, with Adam just behind. You hear the expression "man among boys" thrown around, but good golly, Ennis and Gerbe were like fathers teaching their sons how to lose gracefully.
- There were no penalties assessed, but players got a penalty shot whenever someone hooked, slashed, or high-sticked them. The goalies stopped most, and Connor Knapp in particular made a few athletic saves.
- The line of Gerbe-Adam-Tropp was dominant the entire game. I'm really excited to see what Adam and Tropp can do in Portland next year, while I think Gerbe has to make the big club. He was the best player on the ice, and for those that have questions about whether he can keep his manic energy up the whole season - he was diving around on the ice to keep pucks in the zone. In the 3rd period of a prospect scrimmage. With his team up by four goals. Um, yeah, I think he can.
- Tyler Ennis can stick-handle his way out of a shoebox, and did several times. Can't wait to see him up in Buffalo for a full year.
- I really liked what I saw from first rounder Mark Pysyk. He was always in good defensive position, never looked out of place, got some good shots through, and wasn't afraid to use his body even though he only outweighs my 14-year old cousin by about 25lbs. The kid looks solid.
- Speaking of D-Men, Alex Biega really impressed me with his poise. He was all cool as a cucumber while breaking up several odd-man rushes with good positioning and timely poke-checks.
- TJ Brennan also seems to be coming along nicely. I never saw him get beat or get caught out of position, and he gets bonus points for having a girl in the front row with a St. John's Fog Hats Brennan jersey on.
- I wrote down "Felix Schutz!!" Can't remember why, but it must be good with those exclamation points.
Bad Things (well, not bad, just not particularly good):
- For those who are hoping Zack Kassian will make the big club this year...I don't see it. He's certainly a big physical presence, and he showed he knows how to use his body, but his skating was average at best (amongst this group) and he had some serious stone-hands on a couple of passes. I'm not saying he's a bust or he won't turn into our Milan Lucic like we all hope, I just think his development will take longer than most of us want it to.
- Winger Maxime Legault was very hot and cold. He'd make a great play using his body to shield the puck, then try an awful behind-the-back pass that would get picked off. I liked the way he played, just not his decision making.
Decision making is something all these kids need to work on, and that was evident in both the sloppy play overall and the large quality-of-play discrepancy between more seasoned guys like Myers and Gerbe versus others who are still a bit raw. Then again, maybe they were just fooling around a bit, as I saw paper helmets, Enroth had a C taped to his chest, and one of the goalies had to sit in the penalty box every period. It was certainly fun, and if you can come out next year I'd highly recommend it.