I was unable to attend Monday's development camp, but was able to catch almost all of Day two today (I missed the Shootout drill at the end...the camp ran past 12:30). I made a bunch of notes during the camp, and have tried to categorize them into lists
5 Players That REALLY Stood Out:
1.) Marcus Foligno- Hands down the best looking player at the camp. Every time he is on the ice he is making something happen. Whether it was forechecking, backchecking, making an unbelieveable pass, or rocketing a shot past Knapp or Guggenberger...Foligno does it all. But the reason I loved his performance today was his harassment of Grigorenko. Every-single-time Grigorenko touched the puck during the 4-on-4 Foligno was laying his body into him and disrupting his game. it was definitely was one of those "welcome to the NHL, Rook" kind of moments.
2.) Corey Tropp- Another guy who wasn't afraid to throw his weight around during the first group. Whenever I turned my head to see who had just scored it always seemed to be Tropp. He played with an offensive flare, and really gelled with Cody Hodgson in all drills and 4-on-4s.
3.) Jerome Gauthier-Leduc- If there is ONE player that wasn't on the Sabres last year that had me giggling in my seat with excitement everytime they touched the puck it was JGL. He was too cute in puck retrieval drills, but he excelled in his own end and the things he could do with the puck offensively will put him on par with Brian Campbell as the best offensive defenseman we've had in a long time. I will stake at least one testicle on that bet.
4.) Zemgus Girgensons- I tried to come into the Development Camp with an empty head so I wouldn't be too high or low on any one player. However, I blame WGR for my sudden love for this guy. Happened to hear that his first name is pronounced ZEM-GOOSE and all of a sudden his named sounded like he was the next robotic killer in the Terminator series. All that said...the kid has a motor. Only Foligno competed as hard as Girgensons in the Second Group. He battled on the boards, had plenty of scoring opportunities, and was always the highlight of his line. The hype on this guy was no joke...he'll be the next Sabres jersey I buy when he makes the big club.
5.) Kevin Sundher- In the beginning of the practice he looked to just be an average prospect...someone who kind of just blended in with the majority of the prospects. By the time they were playing 4-on-4 the line of Sundher-Nelson was competing with Hodgson-Adam...and at the end out-performing them. He made some unbelievable passes and I'm looking forward to see him play the rest of the week to see how he performsFive Guys Who Disappointed Me
1.) Mikhail Grigorenko- He had one brilliant pass on a two-on-one to Joel Armia that made the crowd gasp...but that was about all that there was to be excited about. He isn't physical in the forecheck, the rookie McCabe stole the puck from him twice when he went 1-on-1 with him. He made a great pass on a 2-on-0 drill....but there were no defenders. He looks to cherry-pick in the defensive zone and the line of Foligno-Varone-Legace just owned him every time he was on the ice. Maybe I'll see something on the ice different tomorrow or in the Blue-Gold...but I thought Girgensons should be the one competing for a roster spot after today.
2.) Mark Pysyk- Decent at puck retrieval...but looks to be a raw product outside his own zone. Not very physical. I thought the second round pick McCabe outshined him by far.
3.) Joel Armia- His compete-level his high. He finished a beautiful set-up mentioned earlier. If he can finish more consistently (missed too many easy opportunities) he'll be a great NHL player.
4.) Connor Knapp- Simply put: he looked to be the worst goalie of the day...and he's supposed to be challenging Leggio for the #1 in Rochester.
5.) Jacob Legace- Just not skilled enough to ever make it to the NHL. He was playing with Foligno and Varone and looked to be the weak link everytime he touched the puck.
Two Guys Who Looked Like the Fat Kid In a Game Of Dodgeball:
1.) Colin Jacobs- Lindy didn't work with the second group and for about 30 seconds I wondered if Colin Jacobs had frustrated him to the point of a mental breakdown. Poor kid didn't make one good play, and screwed up at least once every drill that it had to be restarted.
2.) Kevin Czuczman- Every rush-drill the skater would attack this kid...and every time they didn't have to put a move on to just go right around him. I think the only way he'd stop on an NHL defender is to throw his stick at the puck as they went around him
1.) There is no doubt in my mind that Hodgson would be a better #1 center than Grigorenko. Hodgson was wayyyy too cute during the practice, but when it was time for 4-on-4 he looked to be an elite playmaker.
2.) Riley Boychuck seemed to be a great fit into whatever line he was interjected in. I think he could be a breakout candidate for Rochester.
3.) Logan Nelson looked to struggle with puck handling during the practice...but he was a sniper when he shot. Then he played with Sundher in the 4-on-4 and looked every bit the part of a poor man's Thomas Vanek.
4.)Linus Ullmark looks like he's 15....but he can play some puck that's for sure.
5.) Goalie Mark Guggenberger was getting extra attention from the coaching staff prior to the practice. It looked like he was a major project simply because he had a coach in his ear for the entire warm-up. The first shot he faced, I kid you not, he DUCKED to avoid the it. I burst out laughing thinking "this is going to be a good show." And indeed it was...because he ROBBED Foligno twice, and looked to be the best goalie of the day. My jaw is still in the ground from his performance