The Buffalo Sabres are one day into their 2016-17 season training camp which featured three training sessions and one scrimmage.
In no particular order, here’s what happened on the first day -
Two spots still up for grabs
The 13th forward and 7th defenseman spots are still vacant as we go into training camp.
Forwards (12) – Nicolas Deslauriers, Jack Eichel, Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno, Brian Gionta, Zemgus Girgensons, Evander Kane, Johan Larsson, Matt Moulson, Kyle Okposo, Ryan O’Reilly, Sam Reinhart.
Candidates: Justin Bailey, Cal O’Reilly, Evan Rodrigues, Hudson Fasching, William Carrier, Daniel Catenacci, Cole Schneider, Nicholas Baptiste and first-round pick Alexander Nylander.
Defense (6) – Zach Bogosian, Cody Franson, Josh Gorges, Dmitry Kulikov, Jake McCabe, Rasmus Ristolainen.
Candidates: Casey Nelson, Justin Falk, Taylor Fedun, Mac Bennett, Brendan Guhle and Erik Burgdoerfer.
Competition still open for other spots too
Coach Dan Bylsma insisted that the other spots weren’t necessarily settled either -
“It’s not very often that you go into camp with a flat-out open spot. At the 13th forward position and at the 7th defenseman, there’s a flat-out open spot for competition.
“That doesn’t mean there’s not competition for how those twelve that are on there and how those six that are on there are going to play. We have quite a bit of competition within our roster, whether it’s two or three or four different possibilities. That’s probably more than I’m accustomed to and more than I’ve had in the past.
“It’s easy to see the defensemen that are in the top six, then there’s a group of three or four. We play a home game and then we go out west. We’re definitely going to be having seven defensemen go out west.”
World Cup of Hockey participants
Ryan O’Reilly (Team Canada) and Dmitry Kulikov (Team Russia) are still in the competition and play this weekend. Jack Eichel (Team North America) and Rasmus Ristolainen (Team Finland) were eliminated in the round robin section of the tournament.
Bylsma commented on Eichel -
“We’ll see him back at the rink the next couple days and have a conversation about when he’ll get back on the ice. We do not have him scheduled for the first two exhibition games.”
Nothing was said about Ristolainen who remains without a contract, and per NHLPA rules would not be allowed to attend training camp. However, the player’s name is on the Sabres’ camp roster, so we’ll see how that situation gets resolved.
Bylsma to talk to Kane again
“I have had a conversation. I didn’t have a formal sitdown conversation. We talked four days ago, five days ago. Yes, there will be a conversation about the expectations from Evander both on and off the ice. I think Evander’s eager to get here and put him behind, so to speak, and get to the business of playing hockey.”
Three practice groups today
From the Sabres site -
42 Justin Kea
40 Robin Lehner
59 Cliff Pu
81 Mac Bennett - 47 Zach Bogosian
60 John Muse
3 Paul Geiger - 24 Tyson Strachan
Blue blows out Gold in first scrimmage
Gold had the disadvantage of practising just before the scrimmage, and looked tired as Blue wiped the ice 5-0 with them. Local boy Cole Schneider was the MVP with three goals while Evander Kane and Vaclav Karabacek got the others. Two of the goals were deflections in front of the goal, but they all count. Bylsma was impressed by Schneider, calling him one of the best forwards on the ice today.
Smiling Cole Schneider on his good day that featured scrimmage hat trick: "It was a little too good. I'm talking to you guys."— John Vogl (@BuffNewsVogl) September 23, 2016
- Tempo is the word of the day. Are we going to see a different style of play from the Sabres this season?
Sabres' Jake McCabe: "It's exciting to get back out there. ... Dan (Bylsma) and the coaching staff are really hammering high tempo."— John Vogl (@BuffNewsVogl) September 23, 2016
- Will Matt Moulson be able to bounce back this season?
Sabres' Matt Moulson: "I definitely have a chip on my shoulder coming in to prove a lot of people wrong who maybe lost a little belief."— John Vogl (@BuffNewsVogl) September 23, 2016
- Cody Franson had health issues last season.
Franson says he had vestibular issue after he was originally diagnosed with concussion. Had issues with turning to the left. All good now— Brayton J. Wilson (@BJWilsonWGR) September 23, 2016
- Typos won’t keep backup goalie Anders Nilsson down. He had a shutout and made some tough saves too. He had a penalty shot save on William Carrier after he got the nameplate replaced.
Someone's name is wrong in every Sabres camp. Today's first lucky winner is new goalie Anders Nilsson. pic.twitter.com/bl96n2cgnL— John Vogl (@BuffNewsVogl) September 23, 2016
- While Robin Lehner gave up three goals today, he did look very quick. From WKBW’s Matthew Bove -
“By now, most fans know that Lehner lost a significant amount of weight in the offseason, and today, you could tell. After practice, even Lehner's teammates were talking about it. Defenseman Jake McCabe said his hard work stood out and he's confident Lehner will show just how good he is.”
- This combo could be deadly
Ennis & Okposo working together. I'm not sure if that's because they're the two best players on the ice or its foreshadowing #Sabres— Matthew Bové (@Matt_Bove) September 23, 2016
- What else did you see or hear on Day One? Share in the comments below.