While getting a victory is always nice, the preseason is more about taking a look at the guys who have a shot at making the team. In Thursday night's game against Carolina, there were a handful of guys that stood out.
Larsson stood out as the best player of the game where there were a handful of veterans mixed in with a lot of young guys. One of the key pieces in the Jason Pominville deal, Larsson showed why he should be on the opening night roster with a stat line of two goals, seven shots on net, and 71% faceoff winning percentage on 17 opportunities. When Larsson was asked about his chances of making the team, he seemed real nonchalant about it. "We'll see after this camp what's going on and what they think about me. I still have to improve in some areas and the staff is really good here in helping me out with that." Head coach Ron Rolston was more adamant in his praise of Larsson's game:
I thought he was arguably our best forward tonight. He's just fiesty out there. He strong and he's got quick hands. The one penalty kill when we needed one, he got down ice, disrupted things, and got a chance in that little span. He was on tonight. He was good in the circle, both he and Cody were good in the circle tonight. Those are things that we are looking for out of centermen in the faceoff circle, but he's got a lot of grit to his game too and he showed that tonight.
Zadarov has all of the looks to be an imposing defenseman in the NHL but is probably going to need more seasoning before making the Sabres roster. He made some impressive plays at both ends of the ice, but also had some defensive lapses that led to chances. His final stat line on the night was 22:35 of ice time, three shots on goal, two hits, two blocked shots, and +1.
For Zadarov to make the roster, he has to make an impression. For him, making an impression may just be as simple as playing his game. "I feel good right now and I think that I can play in the NHL. I just play my game and listen to the coach and what he says and just do my job with how they want me playing and just play like that."
Armia has been a highly touted player ever since he was drafted in the first round of the 2011 Draft. The 20 year old has been playing for three years in the Finnish league and is now trying to make it in the NHL. He likes to try and get out on the break and be the first one in the offensive zone, which can cause some issues on a defensively responsible team. On Armia's lone goal on the night, he worked a Zadorov pass into the offensive zone which was mishandled by Carolina goaltender Anton Khudobin and finished the play. Armia may very well have a bright future in the NHL, but his chances of making the roster on opening night seem slim at the moment.