Archive for June, 2012

Sabres selections rounds 2 and 3

In the second round the Sabres selected defenseman Jake McCabe with the 44th pick overall. US born McCabe is currently playing for the University of Wisconsin and has said he hopes to win a national championship before turning pro. McCabe was one of the older eligible players in the draft. He gets big minutes for the Badgers and has a two-way, all around game. He’s a very good skater so he’s something of the “typical” type of defenseman that Ruff and Regier seem to covet. His college coaches call him a very dependable and smart player.

In the third round the Sabres selected center Justin Kea 73rd overall. Kea is listed at 6’4″ and 211 lbs. For his size he skates fairly well (not Myers well but well enough) but is a bit offensively challenged and can struggle with the puck from time to time. Defense is the strength of his game and he’s a willing, albeit not talented, fighter. Still if a team runs his goalie, don’t expect Kea to just stand there, he’d pile in quickly.

Sabres select Zemgus Girgensons 14th overall

The Buffalo Sabres traded their 21st 42nd pick to Calgary for the 14th overall pick. With that pick the Sabres selected left shooting center Zemgus Girgensons whom the Hockey News terms “a beast”.

Girgensons is listed at 6’1″, 201 lbs. He plays a very physical game with some offensive skill. He will be attending the University of Vermont in 2012-13. He has a lot of intangibles and is one of those guys fans like because of his style of play and work ethic. In the NHL he’ll most likely be a banging 3rd/4th line type center but suddenly the Sabres have depth at a position where they had next to none.

Sabres draft Mikhail Grigorenko 12th overall

The Buffalo Sabres had four top ranked forward fall to them in the first round, they took advantage of the situation to draft center Mikhail Grigorenko (who probably would have gone to Washington had Forsberg not fallen.

Grigorenko is a left shooting center listed at 6’3″, 200 lbs. He was born in Khabarovsk, Russia and there is some concern he may go to the KHL. His scouting report states that he’s a fast learner, good offensive awareness with a hard wrist and slap shot. He’s something of a gym rat off the ice and has the frame to add more size.

Defensively he’s not going to wow anyone and there are questions about his work ethic and drive.


Sabres Schedule Announced, Featuring Less Back To Backs and Home Opener Against Crosby and the Penguins

The Sabres and the NHL have announced the 2012-2013 schedule earlier today. The Sabres will open the season on October 13, 2012 against Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins which kicks off a 3-game home-stand to start the year. Sabres will host the Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings February 5, 2013. The Season Finale will take place at home against the Bruins on April 13th. You can check out of the rest of the schedule on The TV Schedule will be announced later in the summer.



Sabres Draft Preview

Sabres Draft Preview

The Real Fake Real Fake Draft Mock

(Choices are made with the scenario the Sabres don’t trade any of their picks).

1.12 – Zemgus Girgensons – Center / Dubuque Fighting Saints – USHL / 6.2 – 200
49-24-31-55 +17 69

With the expectation that Radek Faksa will be taken prior to the 12th selection, perhaps by the Capitals at 11, the Sabres still need to find a sizable center to add to the system. Girgensons falls in place as a draftee who should be taken in the 12-17 range. Strong, good skater, reads the ice very well with good offensive abilities and a willingness to fight through traffic make Zemgus an attractive addition to the Sabres. Saw more of his film and he showed a very good work ethic and strong forechecking, and is a pretty good skater, with a good motor for a big player. He’s a “team first” player with a good attitude, no pretensions. Girgensons is headed to the University of Vermont in the fall… a program doing its best to rebound from a poor 2011-12 campaign.

1.21 – Brendan Gaunce – Center / Belleville Bulls – OHL / 6.2 – 215
68-28-40-68 +4 68

No reason to stop taking big centers, especially if Gaunce slides down to 21, which could very well happen. Once viewed in Buffalo’s range at 12, Gaunce has been supplanted by some late 1st round draftees months ago and finds himself ranked in the 20s these days. Brendan is a big, tough resilient kid who has enough stamina like the Energizer Bunny and possesses strong leadership qualities. Gaunce is a reliable player at both ends of the ice who would provide the Sabres not only more depth at center, but a sizable pivot who can man a 3rd line center spot and play in most any situation. His skating needs improvement, but the overall package is too tempting to pass up at 21, especially when it was thought a number of months ago he could be taken at 12. On a team of smurfs (especially at center), Gaunce and Girgensons are important additions.

2.42 – Lukas Sutter – Center / Saskatoon Blades – WHL / 6.0 – 210
70-28-31-59 +15 165

Taking yet another big center, the Sabres get a scrappy Sutter at 42. Lukas bloomed this past season as his offensive numbers jumped pretty dramatically. He plays the game with the kind of work ethic / leadership his father and uncles exhibited back in the 1980s. Another two-way center, with a bit less skill than Girgensons or Gaunce, Sutter will make that up in spades with tenacity, strong checking and a willingness to drop the gloves, another Sutter family hallmark. If anything, the drafting of Sutter (and Gaunce) enables Buffalo to fill out their bottom two lines with high quality, big forwards who a team can rely on. These are the kinds of depth guys that many Stanley Cup winners of recent memory have employed.

2.44 – Brian Hart – Right Wing / Exeter Academy – New Hampshire Prep / 6.2 – 215
27-29-27-56 n/a n/a

A big goal scorer with size, Brian Hart has been equally adept at scoring proficiency in both soccer and hockey. He was named the Player of the Year for New Hampshire high schools when it came to soccer, but Hart is pursuing a hockey career, and will head to Harvard in the fall. Is a project overall, but can’t deny the kid’s athleticism. Having seen interviews of him, he’s a smart kid and well-grounded. Hart projects to be drafted in the 50s, but I would like to see the Sabres add some more size and scoring at forward, at wing this time.

3.73 – Brandon Whitney – Goaltender / Victoriaville Tigres – QMJHL / 6.5 – 190
36-22-4-4 2.74 / .896 / 2

Brandon Whitney is a large goalie, in the mold of recent Buffalo draftees Connor Knapp and Nathan Lieuwen. Whitney was a rookie in the Q in 2011-12, and compiled a solid won-loss record. He is the 2nd ranked N.A. goalie behind Malcolm Subban, yet is projected for a 2nd or 3rd round selection. Whitney is a quick reaction goalie for a person his size. This is a selection based more on need, as Buffalo no longer has a goaltender in its system that is in the junior ranks.

5.133 – Teddy Blueger – Center / Shattuck St. Mary’s H.S. – Minnesota / 6.0 – 170
43-22-54-76 n/a 50

Yet another center to add to the team’s system, Blueger is a smaller sized, offensively geared pivot. He racked up 54 assists and 76 points in 43 regular season games for Shattuck St. Mary’s… the same high school Drew Stafford and many other NHL players once attended. Blueger is a quick player that gets a good read of the ice, and likes to dish the puck off, as attests to his 54 helpers. He is headed off to Justin Jokinen’s old stomping grounds at Minnesota State – Mankato. In the 5th round, Blueger would be a fine selection of a player with some decent offensive talent that could be taken earlier (4th round). After this selection, fans shouldn’t have too many complaints about, at the very least, depth at center.

6.163 – Adam Gilmour – Right Wing / Nobles Academy – Massachusetts Prep / 6.2 – 200
26-26-30-56 n/a n/a

Putting the screws to defensemen once again, the Sabres land yet another forward with Adam Gilmour. Gilmour, having committed to Boston College, is a good skater and good offensive presence on the ice. Not an overly gritty player… think of someone like Drew Stafford, a player with size who brings a good offensive game to the ice but isn’t well-stocked with sandpaper. Gilmour is a bit like Blueger, a player that seems to have a better level of talent than where he is being selected. Maybe an excellent coach like Boston College’s Jerry York can bring more out of Gilmour’s abilities.

7.193 – Alex Gudbranson – Defenseman / Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds – OHL / 6.2 – 205
50-2-7-9 0 52

Hey, a defenseman, imagine that. Gudbranson was recently traded to Sault Ste. Marie from the Kingston Frontenacs. Gudbranson’s game is pretty simple… stay-at-home defenseman who gets the puck out of the zone and puts out fires in his own end. Gudbranson is a good checker and plays with grit. He’ll get into some scraps from time to time… just a rugged player who puts forth a lot of effort. Sault Ste. Marie thought enough of him to send several draft picks to Kingston to acquire his services. Doesn’t have nearly the upside as his brother Erik, but would be a good addition to the Sabres’ stable of defensemen in the system.

7.204 – Michael Houser – Goaltender / London Knights – OHL / 6.2 – 190
62-46-15-1 2.47 / .925 / 6

Houser will turn 20 years old in September and has already played three seasons in the OHL. He is ranked low on the CSB rankings for N.A. goalies but he put forth a great season in 2011-12. Houser was a big part of the London Knights reaching the Memorial Cup. He blossomed this past season after a good campaign in 2010-11. Houser was at Buffalo’s prospects camp in the summer of 2011, so the Sabres should have a pretty good read on his abilities. He had six shutouts this past season. His status is kind of like Nathan Lieuwen’s from last year. Houser can go back and play one more year with London and he adds another goalie to the system, giving Buffalo four goalies in the prospect pipeline.

Who knows if any of these players are selected by the Sabres, but I did call the Brad Navin selection five months before it happened. 😀

#Kreskin #alsonotreallykreskin

The new Fake Sabres prospects table after this draft…

(rankings loosely based)

Goalie – Connor Knapp, Brandon Whitney, Nathan Lieuwen, Michael Houser

Defensemen – Brayden McNabb, T.J. Brennan, Mark Pysyk, Jerome Gauthier-Leduc, Drew Schiestel, Alex Biega, Matt MacKenzie, Nick Crawford, Alex Lepkowski, Drew MacKenzie, Alex Gudbranson, Mark Adams

Left Wing – Marcus Foligno, Luke Adam (technically not a prospect and only occasional LW), Brad Navin, Jacob Lagace, Riley Boychuk

Center – Zemgus Girgensons, Dan Catenacci, Brendan Gaunce, Kevin Sundher, Phil Varone, Lukas Sutter, Teddy Blueger, Brian Flynn, Christian Isackson, Colin Jacobs

Right Wing – Joel Armia, Corey Tropp, Brian Hart, Shawn Szydlowski, Jonathan Parker, Adam Gilmour, Justin Jokinen


Sabres 2012 Preseason Schedule

Per Sabres release:

9/24 @Habs
9/26 vs Bruins
9/28 vs. Leafs
9/29 @Leafs
10/2 @Blue Jackets
10/5 @Bruins
10/5 vs Blue Jackets

All games start at 7pm EST except for the Habs which starts at 7:30. Obviously if there’s a lockout there will be no games.

Sabres and 2011 Top Pick Armia agree to 3 Year Entry Level Contract

The Sabres and First Round Pick from 2011 Joel Armia today agreed to a 3-year entry level contract worth 2.775 Million. Armia who was draft 16th overall by the Sabres last June had a strong year for Assat in the SM-liiga recording 38 Points(18 G, 20 A) in 54 Games. Armia also had a strong World Junior Tournament recording 7 Points(5 G, 2 A) in 7 games. He will likely play in SM-liiga for one more season and will have to complete his military commitments before he can come to the states and play for the Sabres organization.


“RJ”, the biggest icon in franchise history?

I think Sabres fans everywhere are extremely happy for Rick Jeanneret today, the St. Cats’ boy who is as much a Buffalonian as anyone born and raised in the area is.  Fans outside of Buffalo don’t much care for RJ but as WGR’s Bulldog said today, RJ is Buffalo, he’s a Buffalo flavor, a Buffalo taste, a Buffalo institution. It’s impossible to argue with that in my opinion.  RJ is part of the inherit fabric of the Sabres’ franchise and to hear his voice shatter on the radio with emotion is something that raises goose pimples on the Sabres’ faithful.

I was fortunate to grow up with Ted Darling as the television play by play man and RJ primarily as the radio guy.  When Ted passed away the jarring transition to John Gurtler was eased by turning the TV volume off and turning up the radio with RJ, for no other reason than to hear a familiar voice after losing a voice many of us had grown up with and grown to love dearly.  When the Sabres decided to simulcast RJ seemed to have no difficulty stepping into the television role.  He still to this day calls the game like a radio guy, something which I think makes for a far more interesting and entertaining call than many modern television broadcasters who are apt to ramble about everything but the game.

I doubt any of us could list our favorite RJ highlights on a single sheet of paper, there’s just too many: Falalala, top shelf, call the cops, a million fight calls, the way Gilllllllberrrrrrrrrrrrrrt Perreault rolled off his tongue, discussions of his butt pillow and of course the famous May Day call.  But when I think perhaps my favorite moment was when the Sabres played their last game in the Aud.   After the game with the clock showing 0.0 RJ gave a short speech.  RJ immediately went into his desired wish that the late Ted Darling was standing next to him at that moment.  RJ choked up, fought back some tears.  You can just feel the emotion from him.  For those of us who grew up with Ted a million memories of Ted flashed into our brain.  To me that was RJ in a single minute. It summed him up perfectly.  He has a knack for capturing emotion and giving it voice and through his voice capturing memories that live with us long after they happen.

RJ might be the one single person in team history who the various of generations of fans have both a common love and a common experience with.  I think if you were to ask all ages of fans to talk about people in franchise history they’ve experienced, RJ has to be that uniting force. RJ has dubbed Ted Darling as the voice of the franchise which I won’t argue with, but to me a statue of RJ belongs right next to Seymour, I think he’s been that important both to the culture of being a Sabres fan and the history of the franchise.

Congrats RJ. Selfishly I hope retirement for you is still years away.

Sabres Play By Play Announcer Rick Jeanneret To Be Induct Into The Hockey Hall Of Fame

Rick Jeanneret will be entering his 41st season with the Buffalo Sabres this season. Yesterday word came out that he would be inducted into the 2012 class of the Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame. Today RJ gets the highest regard that you can get with being inducted into the Media Wing of the Hockey Hall of Fame. It was confirmed just a few minutes ago by ESPN Writer Pierre Lebrun and WGR 550. The Induction ceremonies for this year Hockey Hall of Fame Class will happen in November.

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