Buffalo Sabres Top 25 Under 25 - #11-15
Numbers 11-15 in the summer feature of counting down the Buffalo Sabres top 25 players that are under the age of 25.
Training camp officially kicks off today at the First Niagara Center. What better way to celebrate than to reveal the next group in our top 25 under 25 feature? Today we take a look at numbers 11-15 on the list.
#15 Daniel Catenacci (Age-20) - Center - 5'10" 193 lbs
David Oleksy -This season will be an important one for Catenacci. The former third round pick made an impressive debut with the Rochester Americans last season after completing another successful junior season with the Owen Sound Attack. Catenacci scored his first AHL goal and added two assists in only two games with the Americans to close out the 2012-2013 season. Catenacci is a player that possesses offensive skill that could eventually make him a mainstay in the Sabres lineup.
Calvin - Catenacci is a left handed center who plays bigger than his 5'10" height suggests. He signed a three-year entry level contract with the Sabres and played in the OHL last season where he absolutely dominated; he's had 70+ points in three straight seasons. He made a mark in two games for Rochester last season too, with three points in those two games. Catenacci was used as both a LW and C in the recently-ended Traverse City prospects tournament. Big things are expected of him at Rochester this year.
#14 Corey Tropp (Age-24) - Right Wing - 6'0" 185 lbs
David Oleksy -Last season was supposed to be a coming out party for Corey Tropp. Tropp played 34 games in the Sabres lineup two seasons ago and was expected to be a key contributor for the big club last season. Unfortunately, he started the season with Rochester because of the NHL lockout and he was hurt in the first game of the season. Tropp played in five more games later in the season but he never really healed from his knee injury and it eventually ended his season. This season he will be pushing to make the Sabres opening night roster.
Calvin - You will be forgiven for forgetting who this guy is. His impact on the team in 2011-12 went beyond making catchy headlines (Tropp It Like It's Hot!) - he brought a physical presence to a side that most of the League was busy running over. However, a season-ending injury last year ended his involvement after he got off to a hot start in Rochester in the last year of his entry-level contract. The Sabres signed him to a one-year extension, so this year will be a litmus test of his abilities. The pressure will really be on him to make the Sabres squad out of training camp.
Jack Goods - Corey Tropp is a guy that has kind of gotten lost in the mix because of his injury that kept him out of almost all of last season. Two years ago he was starting to really show that he deserved to be up on the Sabres and served a very solid bottom line role. He's a tough hard-nosed player who at least has some scoring presence. If he doesn't start on the roster, I'd be surprised if he wasn't at some point.
#13 Matt Hackett (Age-23) - Goalie - 6'2" 170 lbs
David Oleksy -Hackett was acquired by the Sabres in the Jason Pominville trade at the deadline last season. He was considered one of the top prospects in the Minnesota Wild organization prior to the deal. Hackett played in 12 NHL games two seasons ago and performed well, finishing with a 2.37 GAA and a .922 save percentage. He struggled in his one NHL appearance last season. Still the future is bright for Hackett. He has the size to be a very good NHL goalie and he has played consistently well at the AHL level. I expect that Sabres fans will get an opportunity to see him play in blue and gold at some point this season.
Calvin - Hackett is a RFA on a one-year extension. While he is unlikely to beat out Jhonas Enroth to the backup goalie spot with the Sabres, his NHL experience should give him a head start in the race for the Amerks starting job. The incumbent, David Leggio, is gone, with the Washington Capitals now, and the position is really Hackett's to lose.
Jack Goods - Hackett has a lot to prove this season to the team as he will likely be the starter in Rochester. Is he a player we should really be considering, or is he just an AHL starter? He's a player that comes with a lot of question marks.
#12 Nikita Zadorov (Age-18) - Left Defense - 6'5" 221 lbs
David Oleksy -Zadorov is kind of a wild card on this list. We all assume he will be an elite talent because of his size and the Sabres willingness to spend a first round pick on him. He has the size to compete at the NHL level today, and that is obvious when watching him play for the London Knights in the OHL. However, he still needs more seasoning at the junior level before he will be able to be an everyday defenseman in the NHL.
Calvin - We knew he was big, mean and really played the body. What we didn't know is that he has goalscoring potential too. Zadorov was a surprise pick in the first round, so soon after the Sabres had already picked a d-man high (Rasmus Ristolainen), and he showed that his first round billing was valid. He paired up with the Finn to great effect during the Traverse City tournament, shutting down forwards, throwing their weight around and racking up points as well. Right now he's racing Risto to see who makes it up to Buffalo first.
Jack Goods - Its been said that Zadorov had a very impressive tournament, which is very good to see. He will likely be back in juniors this year, but is a project fans should be looking forward to seeing come along. The idea of Zadorov and Ristolainen playing together just seems like a perfect fit.
#11 Johan Larsson (Age-21) - Center - 5'10" 200 lbs
David Oleksy - This is the guy that most Minnesota Wild fans wish he was never traded. Larsson appears destined to be a contributor at the NHL level at some point in the future. The question at this point is when will that be? and how much will he contribute. My best guess is that Larsson is still a year or two away from being an everyday contributor at the NHL level and he will probably be a serviceable player that can contribute 10-15 goals per season.
Calvin - Larsson is a leader no doubt, wearing the 'C' on his jersey after Chad Ruhwedel was knocked out of the Traverse City tournament with an injury. He played alongside Joel Armia and Dan Catenacci, and were pretty good as a top line. He should keep his spot on the top line at Rochester, and with a good training camp, could actually challenge for a bottom six forward spot on the Sabres too.
Jack Goods - Larsson is another player who may be on the cusp of the Sabres roster, but it will be interesting to see if there's any room for him right now. If he isn't up this year, Larsson will get plenty of playing time in Rochester. If the Sabres want to go full-out rebuild, playing guys like Larsson could make a lot of sense.
Check back again next Thursday when we reveal numbers 6-10 on the Sabres Top 25 Under 25 list.