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by Joe Ray / Buffalo Sabres

Buffalo Sabres prospect Justin Bailey talks about the first day of development camp and his own progression as a player.

I know last year I came in here and it was an eye-opener for sure, playing against guys that you watched get drafted, especially for me being a Sabres fan. Growing up, I look at Mark Pysyk getting drafted, and now you’re playing with those guys. For me, last year was just more of a learning experience. This year, I’m 100 percent more confident than last year. I think last year was more of opening up and seeing, you know, it was fun. This year, I’m here as a job, and that’s just what I’m trying to do moving forward.

You definitely play differently after the first year. I think last year I was playing more to not make a mistake, and this year I’m playing more to show everything that I have. Mistakes obviously happen when you play at a high level with guys that are good competition. There’s not as much nerves, you just have to play your game and play within the team system.

Just during lunch now, I was sitting with a few guys, Zemgus Girgensons and Jake McCabe and we were just talking. One of things that came up was this camp is a lot more physical. You can tell that the intensity is a lot higher than last year. I think that’s good, it’s healthy competition. Everybody is going hard; everyone is going after the same jobs. So you’re friends off-ice, but on-ice it’s competition for sure.

There are a lot of new faces, even for me. Last year a lot of guys knew each other, and with all the moves throughout the season there’s a ton of new faces. For me, I’m trying to help the new guys for sure, but I’m also trying to learn from some of the older guys too.

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