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Posted On Friday, 06.05.2015 / 1:57 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - 2015 NHL Draft blog

Matthews likely to play in Europe before '16 NHL Draft

BUFFALO -- Auston Matthews, the projected No. 1 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, is leaning toward continuing his hockey career in Switzerland, agent Pat Brisson told on Friday.

Brisson said playing for ZSC in Switzerland's top professional league or for the Everett Silvertips in the Western Hockey League are the two destinations. Brisson said Matthews has ruled out going the NCAA route. 

"It's been discussed and we have been exploring Europe and have narrowed it down to Switzerland and the WHL," Brisson said. "It's looking at the moment that the scale is leaning towards Europe." ZSC is coached by former NHL coach Marc Crawford.

Posted On Friday, 06.05.2015 / 12:17 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Combing the 2015 NHL Scouting Combine

Blackhawks scouting staff watching hard work pay off

BUFFALO -- The scouting team for the Chicago Blackhawks has had the best of both worlds during the 2015 NHL Scouting Combine.

Blackhawks senior director of amateur scouting Mark Kelley and his staff not only are enjoying their time here during the interviewing phase of the Combine, but watching their diligence from previous years pay off during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"This year has been special," Kelley said Friday. "In addition to trying to target players for the Chicago Blackhawks down the road, it's been nice to get a little bit of the reward by watching the Stanley Cup Final [against the Tampa Bay Lightning] and seeing all that hard work pay off."

Posted On Thursday, 06.04.2015 / 7:55 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Combing the 2015 NHL Scouting Combine

Blue Jackets' scout hopes Reilly stays with team

BUFFALO -- Columbus Blue Jackets director of amateur scouting Paul Castron remembers that when they selected defenseman Mike Reilly in the fourth round (No. 98) of the 2011 NHL Draft, it was with the hope that he could develop into a big piece of their future.

Though Reilly may become an effective NHL player, it's unclear if it will be with the Blue Jackets, who on Wednesday granted Reilly permission to speak to other teams after failing to agree on a contract with him.

Reilly is speaking with teams this week at the NHL Scouting Combine at First Niagara Center. He told on Wednesday that Columbus remains under consideration as he mulls his options. TSN reported Thursday that Reilly and his representatives planned to meet with eight other teams: the Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins.

Posted On Thursday, 06.04.2015 / 7:36 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Combing the 2015 NHL Scouting Combine

Sabres choose not to interview Connor McDavid

BUFFALO -- The Buffalo Sabres determined it was not necessary to interview Erie Otters center Connor McDavid this week during the 2015 NHL Scouting Combine.

McDavid, No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of the top North American skaters for the 2015 NHL Draft, is expected to go No. 1 to the Edmonton Oilers when the draft is held June 26-27 at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla.

"We haven't interviewed McDavid and we probably won't," Buffalo director of amateur scouting Greg Royce said Thursday. "If he slips to No. 2 and Edmonton takes Jack Eichel … we have met McDavid before and we know he's a fantastic player and person.

"We just thought maybe it was wasting his time [to schedule an interview]. We'd love to meet him and bring him in. But at the same time, we know him, he's a great kid, smart kid and we have no issues with him."

The Sabres interviewed Eichel, the Boston University center ranked No. 2 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of North American skaters, on Tuesday. If the Oilers draft McDavid, many anticipate the Sabres will select Eichel No. 2 in the draft.

"We did the full interview process with [Eichel] like we do any other player," Royce said. "He was great, very confident and personable. He's an intelligent person off the ice, and the on the ice his talent speaks for itself."

McDavid had four interviews this week and Eichel had six.


Posted On Thursday, 06.04.2015 / 7:42 AM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Combing the 2015 NHL Scouting Combine

Capitals assistant GM on impact of McDavid, Eichel

BUFFALO -- Washington Capitals assistant general manager Ross Mahoney was asked if the top of the 2015 NHL Draft could one day rival that of 2004 when Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin went first and second, respectively, to the Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins.

Mahoney was running the Capitals' draft when Ovechkin was taken No. 1 in 2004. 

Many believe Erie Otters center Connor McDavid and Boston University center Jack Eichel could turn out to be the best 1-2 tandem since Ovechkin and Malkin. Others are willing to wait before offering a verdict.

"I guess time will tell four to five years from now," Mahoney said. "They are both so talented and can take over a game. They always seemed to step it up when their teams needed them to do so by scoring or creating; they are difference-makers.

"Usually you get one of them in a draft, but to have two of them in the same draft is definitely unusual."

Posted On Wednesday, 06.03.2015 / 12:40 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Combing the 2015 NHL Scouting Combine

Prospects adjust travel to reach NHL Combine

BUFFALO -- The trip to get to the NHL Scouting Combine may turn out to be just as memorable as the event itself for a dozen of the top Swedish hockey players and one Slovakian eligible for the 2015 NHL Draft.

After arriving at Newark Liberty International Airport to catch his connecting flight Sunday, Linkoping defenseman Gabriel Carlsson and 11 of his Swedish friends, along with Slovak goaltender Matej Tomek of the Topeka Roadrunners in the North American Hockey League, learned their flight to Buffalo had been canceled because of severe weather conditions.

Since catching another flight would encompass shuttles to different airports in New York for different groups of players, everyone agreed to get on a bus Monday morning and make the seven-hour ride to Buffalo.

"I was glad we got the bus because I wouldn't have wanted to go by plane the next day since I only had tickets for a connected flight; it would have been really hard with my baggage and time scheduling," Tomek said. "I was glad the NHL found a bus very quickly and we could get here."

Posted On Wednesday, 06.03.2015 / 6:35 AM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Combing the 2015 NHL Scouting Combine

Frontenacs' Crouse excited to begin fitness testing

BUFFALO -- This is the chance Kingston Frontenacs left wing Lawson Crouse has been waiting for at the 2015 NHL Scouting Combine.

An opportunity to speak his piece and defend himself during the interview process at First Niagara Center before giving it his best shot in the fitness tests at nearby HarborCenter.

Crouse (6-foot-4, 215 pounds) is No. 5 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of the top North American skaters eligible for the 2015 NHL Draft. 

"Everyone wants to be the best they can be, and to do that you have to take down some of the other guys. But that's just the competitiveness we all have as hockey players," Crouse said. "The Combine is just a way to get a grade of how strong and fit you are as a person and player. I'm out to beat everyone here, but that's just the type of person I am. I know I probably won't do that in all the categories, but I'll do my best to try."

Posted On Tuesday, 06.02.2015 / 6:43 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Combing the 2015 NHL Scouting Combine

Broncos' DeBrusk in high demand at NHL Combine

BUFFALO -- Swift Current Broncos left wing Jake DeBrusk made certain he had plenty of dress shirts and ties for the 2015 NHL Scouting Combine this week at First Niagara Center.

That's because DeBrusk, the son of former NHL player Louie DeBrusk, has interviews lined up with all 30 NHL teams.

"I'll be pretty busy," DeBrusk said. "It's amazing, I'm not going to lie. It's almost unbelievable. But I look forward to talking to every single team."

Posted On Friday, 05.29.2015 / 10:56 AM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - 2015 NHL Draft blog

Sabres' Bylsma likes what he sees in Jack Eichel

Dan Bylsma was in high demand across many media platforms after being named coach of the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday.

The questions came fast and furious about his coaching philosophy, expectations and, most notably, his thoughts about Boston University freshman Jack Eichel.

Eichel, No. 2 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of the top North American skaters eligible for the 2015 NHL Draft, is expected to be chosen by the Sabres with the No. 2 pick in the first round on June 26 at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla.

Bylsma saw plenty of Eichel this season, so everyone was interested in his opinion.

Posted On Tuesday, 05.19.2015 / 12:43 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - 2015 NHL Draft blog

Top 2015 prospects set for big roles at Memorial Cup

A number of top prospects for the 2015 NHL Draft will have roles on their teams at the 2015 Memorial Cup tournament, which will be held May 21-31 at the Colisée Pepsi in Quebec City, Quebec. The tournament will determine the champion of the Canadian Hockey League.

The four-team tournament includes the host team, the Quebec Remparts, along with the Rimouski Oceanic, champions of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League; the Western Hockey League champion Kelowna Rockets; and the Ontario Hockey League champion Oshawa Generals.

The top-ranked forward is Kelowna right wing Nicholas Merkley (5-foot-10, 191 pounds), No. 23 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of the top draft-eligible North American skaters. Merkley had 20 goals and 90 points in 72 regular-season games for the Rockets, and five goals and 27 points in 19 WHL playoff games.

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In respect to the organization and my teammates, it was the best move. When I look back at my career and all the different things I had to overcome, I have no regrets. It was great.

— Devils captain Bryce Salvador on retiring from the National Hockey League Wednesday