The Buffalo Sabres opened Training Camp for the 2009-10 NHL season today, with rookies hitting the ice at the Amherst Pepsi Center.
Players took part in an hour-long practice before engaging in a 45-minute, inter-squad scrimmage to kick off the start of the season.
“We have a lot of bodies, more than we would usually practice with,” Head Coach Lindy Ruff said. “But I think if we can put a lot of those [transition] exercises in, it will help … it’s really to get them to realize what a difference the pace is at this level.”
Among the new faces joining the team were free-agent signings Joe DiPenta and JP Lamoureaux as well as draft picks Brayden McNabb
and Zack Kassian.
Kassian, selected by the Sabres 13th overall in the 2009 NHL Draft, was unable to participate in the team’s summer Development Camp due to a foot injury – making training camp his first experience skating with the team.
“I was nervous, I’m not going to lie” he said. “But you realize that these guys are human… and going to help you through it.”
“I’m pleasantly surprised,” Ruff said of seeing Kassian for the first time. “He moves well, has pretty good hands, and he’s a physical guy that, in a scrimmage like today, doesn’t get to use the tools that he’s been known for.”
The big attraction, however, was with the 6-foot-8 defenseman Tyler Myers
In the last year Myers has drawn attention by capturing a WHL title with the Kelowna Rockets, being named MVP of the playoffs, competing in the Canadian Hockey League’s Memorial Cup and winning a gold medal at the World Junior Championships with Team Canada.
With his continued success, combined with the departures of defensemen like Jaroslav Spacek [free agency] and Teppo Numminen [retired], speculation as to whether Myers could make the final roster has surfaced.
“He’s been noticed,” Ruff said. “You talk to other coaches and the first player they ask is, ‘is that Myers kid going to make the team?’ I think that is something special.
“He is a big man… he’s put on some weight, he’s a stronger kid now. I think it’s just whether he can handle the grind… with young guys it’s a consistency battle.
“I think there will be a lot of discussions… we want to remain focused on what we think he can do and his progress as camp goes along.”
Training Camp continues Wednesday at HSBC Arena at 10:30 a.m. The full camp gets underway on Saturday, September 12 when the veterans report. The doors will be open to the public at 9:30 a.m.
A total of 53 players are currently scheduled to attend this year’s camp -- 31 forwards, 18 defensemen and 4 goaltenders. (Adam Mair is listed on the roster, but will not participate due to injury.) The full training camp schedule will be released in the near future.
All HSBC Arena practices are free and open to the public, and select concession stands will be open. Check www.sabres.com for practice schedule updates.
“You want to get an impression of what a kid’s character is first,” Ruff said. “Obviously we’ve drafted most of these kids, they all do something really well. I think every kid has something to offer. It’s just trying to fit those pieces in, getting to know them a little better. [This year] I think the players sense there’s an opportunity to make the team and that’s the important part.”