10:30 a.m. - Noon
The early group, which will be Team Blue at the “Blue & Gold Scrimmage” on Friday, took the ice in the morning and participated in a more traditional practice. Wednesday, the early parts of the practice focused on on-ice testing and skating drills. On Thursday, however, the coaching staff put the players through breakout drills and other shooting workouts right away.
Another notable change came in the form of personnel. Center Connor Hurley, drafted in the second round of this year's draft, was skating with this group in place of 2013 fifth-round pick Gustav Possler.
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Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, Buffalo’s first pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, said that he’s still getting used to some of his new equipment, so he felt more comfortable on Thursday than on Wednesday.
“[I felt] better than yesterday, but still I have a lot of work,” Ristolainen said. “This practice was my third only of this summer so I have a lot of work to do to get into game shape.”
Another aspect of the game he’s adjusting too is the size of the rink. He’s accustomed to playing on the international-sized rinks in Finland, but is enjoying the shift to a smaller sheet of ice.
|Mark Pysyk |
“We have a lot of bigger rinks in Finland but I like the smaller ones,” he said. “I like to play like an American style of hockey, hit hard and play a fast game. To me, it feels very good.”
While this is Ristolainen’s first development camp, it’s the fourth for defenseman Mark Pysyk. The Sabres’ first-round pick in 2010, Pysyk played in his first NHL games last season. If there’s one thing he’s learned from these development camps that he can pass on to the younger players, it’s to embrace what is available to them during this week of practice.
“We were just talking about that, just take advantage of all the stuff here,” he said. “There are NHL coaches, trainers, mental skills coach, power skating coaches. Take advantage of the resources that they have here in the Sabres organization. ”
Eric Locke – Zemgus Girgensons – Jonathan Parker
Kevin Sundher – Phil Varone – Logan Nelson
Connor Hurley – Justin Kea – Nick Baptiste
Alex Iafallo – Andrew Black
Nikita Zadorov – Mark Pysyk
Jake McCabe – Rasmus Ristolainen
Brady Austin – Matt MacKenzie