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BLOG: THOUGHTS FROM DEV-CAMP DAY ONE

by Brian Wheeler / Buffalo Sabres
Beyond the Boards is written by the Buffalo Sabres Website Manager, Brian Wheeler. Joining the Sabres prior to the 2003-04 season, Wheeler is the main contact and content editor for Sabres.com. He has worked in the NHL, NFL, AHL and NLL over the past 11 years.  Click here to send him an email.


 
Drew Stafford (photo: Getty Image)
A quick jump up I-190 North and I arrived at the opening day of the Buffalo Sabres Development Camp (Dev-Camp for short).   These are always tough to cover.  Practice consists of a lot of young players and new faces skating all over the ice and media members generally scrambling to play a game of “Guess Who?”

“Who just shot that puck?  What’s that guy’s name?”

Every year basically runs the same way.  You come into camp thinking that you know all the faces and names from the previous camps, only to realize that hockey Generation X has been replaced by Generation Y and you’re starting over from scratch once again.

But this year has been somewhat different as name plates were added to the backs of jerseys.  

I know the old cliche is that the name on the front of the jersey is more important than the name on the back, but I’m not so sure that’s the case in Dev-Camp.   

Those names on the back were pretty darn important.

Stafford Still Stafford, Sekera Still Sekera, Everyone Else Looks Like Kids

That’s a little bit of an overstatement.  Not everyone looks physically like kids (i.e. six-foot-seven Tyler Myers), but most did when facing Andrej Sekera and Drew Stafford.  

The two most veteran players in camp performed and dominated like they should.

It really didn’t seem fair at times, almost like a high school senior stuffing a freshman into his locker.  The duo just picked the doe-eye youngsters apart or made them look like the second coming a Gretzky with a pass here or deflection there.

Myers Is BBBBIIIIIIIIGGGGG

Speaking of Tyler Myers, if you stop down to one or more of the practices at Dev-Camp, it will take you approximately six seconds to spot the Sabres first pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.

Just two inches shorter than Boston’s Zdeno Chara (six-foot-nine), Myers absolutely towers over the other prospects… and the coaching staff.  

I saw him at the draft but he didn’t look nearly as large as what he does when he’s on skates.  It’s like those two pieces of steel added another foot on his frame.

My first impressions:  long reach; decent physical player; and he can skate well for a man-child of his size.  

One of the knocks on Chara at the beginning of his career was that his skating ability wasn’t up to par.  After one practice, I would think that Myers has a decent handle in that department.  

But there’s always room for improvement.

One immediate thing he could work on: sliding to take away the pass on two-on-ones for one thing.  A couple of times I noticed Myers would slide at an angle towards the puck carrier instead of horizontally to the play in the slot.  A seasoned veteran (i.e. Stafford) would just hit the brakes, let Myers’ momentum carry him into the boards and then make an easy play for the goal.

Easy habit to correct though.  

Nathan Gerbe Is Fun to Watch

I have to be honest here.  I really didn’t believe that Gerbe would be smaller than Derek Roy.  I really didn’t.  It just didn’t seem possible.  

And then he walked out for his interview.  ( 6/25 - Nathan Gerbe - Developmental Camp Day One)

He’s small.  

But he’s also a blast to watch play the game.  Many people have used the term “Energizer Bunny” to describe him.  It’s a totally valid comparison.

The kid never stops.  But that’s not the most impressive part.  It’s the fact that he doesn’t care where he is on the ice – in the corners, in the slot, through the middle, etc – or who’s trying to stop him; he never seems to back down.

Of course it helps that he’s really fast and fairly strong on his skates.

Defensemen have to be nearly perfect with their gap control with this kid.  Make a mistake and he’s by you.  Alex Biega found that out the hard way.  Gerbe blew past him on the outside like he was standing still because Biega underestimated his speed.  

That’s it for Day One thoughts…. Day Two coming soon…
 
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