Buffalo Sabres Combine Notebook

Berkly Catton didn’t take long to answer when he was asked what brought him to hockey during his 2024 NHL Scouting Combine meetings.

The Saskatoon, Saskatchewan native said the answer was easy after growing up with a hockey rink in his backyard that his dad built when he was just three years old.

Catton credits the experience as the main reason he was able to develop his high-end skill set and edge work, which have the 5-foot-10, 170-pound center projected to go in the top 15 of the NHL Draft later this month and mocked to Buffalo with the 11th-overall pick by several draft experts.

“I’ve kind of just lived back there and that’s where I mastered those little skills. Obviously, it kind of translated well in these past years,” Catton said.

The 2024 NHL Scouting Combine, which was held at LECOM Harborcenter in Buffalo for the eighth season, concluded Saturday as the top draft-eligible prospects underwent their fitness testing and media interviews.

Catton met with a number of teams, including Buffalo, and pointed out how the Sabres have developed forwards Zach Benson and Matt Savoie as something that stood out about his conversation with the organization.

“You know, you look at their kind of track record with Benson and Savoie – similar to myself, I think, in lots of ways,” he said. “So, talking with them about that and just being here obviously, chatting about the facilities and the people I met with the Sabres and stuff. We had a really good chat.”


Catton recorded 116 points (54+62) in 68 games for Spokane of the Western Hockey League and finished fourth in the league in scoring to be named to the WHL U.S. Division First All-Star Team.

The No. 8-ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting Services, Catton captained Canada at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in August, scoring a tournament-best eight goals to win gold.

Catton has been described as a potential top-six center with competitiveness to go along with his elite skating, but the 18-year-old is most proud of how he developed his shot.

“I knew as a 16-year-old, I thought I had a decent season, but I wasn’t scoring as much as I would like,” he said. “And I knew that was due to my shot (not) being where it should be, so I knew I had to work on that in the summer. Ultimately, I did, and it paid off.”

Catton’s shooting regimen is a little out of the ordinary in that he built a makeshift goalie out of wood to sit in his backyard net. He has practiced shooting from spots he typically gets to in games to continue improving his shot.

“It’s probably not made very well, but it’s held together,” he said with a laugh. “I just genuinely enjoy being back there and working on my craft.”

Here are more takeaways from testing day at the combine.

1. The combine featured familiar names in Tij Iginla, Aatos Koivu, and Max Plante, sons of former NHL players Jarome Iginla, Saku Koivu, and Derek Plante.

Plante’s father spent five full seasons with the Sabres before being traded to Dallas towards the end of the 1998-99 season.

During his media interview, Plante emphasized how cool it was to take part in the combine in the city his dad loved.

“He loved it here,” Plante said. “Kind of his starting ground in the NHL.

“He says the city welcomed him. He had a bulldog here – like a dog. It kind of became like a little bit of a team mascot. But yeah, he loved the city.”

2. Prospects are asked questions during their meetings so both the teams and players can get to know one another better. While the most common questions asked this year were regarding upbringing and how players would describe themselves, there was one question that Michael Brandsegg-Nygard, the No.5-ranked International skater by NHL CSS who could be the highest-drafted Norwegian player ever, wasn’t expecting.

“The weirdest one was probably, ‘Describe the color blue.’ I just said, ‘Try to look up in the sky and see,” he shared with a laugh.

Some teams even had players compete with the staff in board games.

3. Click here for the full results from the 2024 NHL Scouting Combine fitness testing.

Up next

The 2024 NHL Draft at Sphere in Las Vegas begins with Round 1 on Friday, June 28 while Rounds 2 through 7 will be held on Saturday, June 29. For the latest news and updates regarding the draft, check out Sabres.com's NHL Draft Hub.