The 2012 Buffalo Sabres development camp opened Monday with a lot of potential future stars in Buffalo. The roster included players such as Brayden McNabb, Marcus Foligno, Luke Adam, Mikhael Grigorenko, Zemgus Girgensons, Joel Armia, Mark Pysyk and Jerome Gauthier-Leduc. There may be up to 1 defensive job and 2 forward jobs open for these rookies. Most who do not make the Sabres will go back to Europe, Canadian Juniors, the NCAA or Rochester.
Early indications from day 1 were that the players who were expected to be stars rose to the occasion. Among the forwards attending, Joel Armia really stood out. Armia, the Sabres 2011 first-round draft pick, scored several goal, showed good speed and a great shot. He still has a military commitment and one year left on his Assat contract, but he seems well on his way to be a future top 6 forward. Luke Adam, the former AHL rookie of the year, who has showed several glimpses of stardom in the NHL, also potted a few goals. He was playing on the wing and reports are that his footwork was much better. Cody Hodgson, currently one of the Sabres top centers, was also very steady in his 2-way game. Marcus Foligno play his style of hockey. Take it to the net hard, shoot the puck, and hope it goes in. He also took on a leadership role at camp. Big things are expected from the "veteran" this season. The 2 rookies who everyone is excited to see also played well. Grigorenko showed excellent playmaking ability and scored the final goal in 3-on-3 drills. Girgensons, while not as flashy, played solid, but also showed tremendous on ice leadership.
On defense, the two guys who seem poised to be future NHL stars are Brayden McNabb and Mark Pysyk. McNabb is bigger and more physical than Pysyk, but needs to work on his skating ability. Pysyk is a simple 2-way defenseman. Coming off leading his team to a WHL Championship, the speedy defenseman played a solid game which shows why he could be a call up this season.
The Sabres rookies have been working with the Navy SEALS in the morning. The workout is said to not make them stronger physically, but mentally. Hopefully it will work as a huge, "This is the NHL", for these players.
A scrimmage is at the First Niagara Center on Thursday at 6 pm for $10.