It’s safe to say that Buffalo Sabres prospect Josh Bloom has had quite a year.
Last July, Bloom was drafted by the Sabres with the penultimate pick in the third round of the NHL Draft. Like others in his class, Bloom didn’t get all of the typical fanfare that comes with a draft. A few months later, he was back in Saginaw for another year with the season, stepping into an upgraded leadership role as an alternate captain.
His productive season, during which he recorded 61 points in 67 games, came on a struggling Saginaw Spirit team that finished last in the OHL’s Western Conference. He joined the AHL’s Rochester Americans on an amateur tryout, but due to the NHL-CHL agreement, was unable to play in an actual game. Now, this past week, he came to Buffalo for the NHL team’s development camp.
“It’s been a crazy year,” Bloom said. “Stepping into a new position in Saginaw, a lot of guys graduating and stepping into a bigger leadership role on that team. Definitely a learning curve for me, but exciting at the same time.”
From what he’s seen so far, Bloom has been impressed with both the city of Buffalo and the Sabres organization as a whole. He used this past week at development camp to gain valuable experience, enjoy himself and get more comfortable with the way things operate.
Bloom, like some of his other fellow prospects, has certainly noticed the dedication of Sabres fans. Easily 200 fans were in attendance for a Wednesday afternoon on-ice session, and plenty were in the stands for Saturday’s French Connection Tournament as well.
“It’s a pretty special thing playing here,” he said. “There’s a buzz around the city right now about the Buffalo Sabres, and it’s special to be a part of.”
“You can see it out there with the fans,” Bloom added. “There’s definitely a buzz going around, and this city is a great spot to be in right now.”
More than just learning about the city and its fanbase, Bloom also used development camp to learn from veterans like Kyle Okposo along with other experienced young players like Peyton Krebs and Mattias Samuelsson. He said that during his brief time in Rochester, he was able to build good relationships with a lot of the other players.
Okposo addressed the prospects during camp & doled out some wise words.
“[Okposo] had a lot of great things to say,” Bloom said. “... leaning on the older guys, not being afraid to ask questions. He’s a really open person and a great speaker from what I heard. Just listening to his story and the advice he gave us was pretty cool.”
“Taking a lot of things from that, and just living a pro day, going about your business as a pro. We’re all young kids and we’re learning how to be professionals. That’s something that development camp offers for us,” he added. “Taking that away from here is something you can bring wherever you go - whether it’s juniors, whether it’s college - bring that pro mentality anywhere you go, bring your success.”
Bloom, who turned 19 earlier this summer, still won’t be eligible to play in an AHL game this year - that aforementioned NHL-CHL agreement is in effect until he turns 20 - so his focus right now is on his development and his final year in juniors. He’s also headed to Team Canada’s national junior team summer camp July 23-27 in Calgary.
“Hopefully we’ve got a really good squad, which I think we will,” he said. “Saginaw’s done everything right. It’s just an unbelievable organization to be a part of. Really excited to go to camp and meet the new guys, see what group we’ve got this year and hopefully make a really deep playoff run. It’s exciting.”
Josh Bloom has been so deadly on the penalty kill this year. Great work here to apply pressure at the point early, taking away any shooting options. Then he eventually makes a great read to intercept the backhand pass and is off to the races. pic.twitter.com/yYVbAI8x6d— Brock Otten (@BrockOtten) March 27, 2022
What can Sabres fans expect from this prospect?
“Lots of speed. I’m fast everywhere I play,” Bloom said of himself. “I’m a big body who’s still learning how to use it, but at the same time, I can make an impact offensively and defensively. Whether I’m scoring, whether I’m not, I’ll find ways to impact the game and help the team out.”
Following the national team camp, Sabres fans can follow Bloom in action with his Spirit team in a few short months. Saginaw kicks off its season on October 1.