and Sam Reinhart
had the opportunity to room together during Development Camp in July, but they were on opposing lines in drills and on opposing teams in the Blue and Gold scrimmage. Saturday night’s contest against the New Jersey Devils will mark their first chance to play together in game action, generating some excitement for both players.
“It’s definitely nicer playing with him. I’m sure we’ll see each other on the ice at some point playing together,” Reinhart said. “Obviously we know each other well now so to finally play alongside, it makes things a little easier.”
As the moment, Rochester Americans coach Randy Cunneyworth, who is leading the team of prospects from behind the bench, said that the second-overall picks in each of the past two drafts are slated to participate in both of the Sabres’ games during the Prospects Challenge.
With expectations high for Buffalo’s top two prospects, Cunneyworth said that he expects them to not only take pressure off one another, but also to learn from each other’s strengths.
“Absolutely, for sure. I think it remains to be seen, obviously their friendship can develop and I think that’s a huge thing that the rest of the players pick up on, and it’s part of the building process,” he said.
“But in terms of what each can add, I think there are little elements –they both are exciting players –but they can also do things that the other can’t in certain areas. So their ability to learn off each other will improve too.”
FINALLY, A NEW OPPONENT
Potentially even more exciting for Eichel than having the opportunity to play alongside Reinhart is the chance to finally play an opponent dressed in something other than a Sabres sweater. Saturday’s contest against the Devils will mark his first true action against NHL competition, a moment he’s been working for throughout the summer.
“I think it’s great to just come in and play some games against another team,” Eichel said. “It’s going to be competitive and everyone wants to make an impression on management and the coaches so I’m sure we’re going to be flying and I’m sure the teams we’re playing are going to be flying. It’s looking like a really good opportunity for all of us and like I said it’s an exciting time of year.”
And while Eichel and the other prospects are eager to prove themselves in game situations, Cunneyworth is hopeful that it translates into an exciting show for those in attendance.
“I think what we’re hoping for is an up-tempo game, play a hard game, but obviously an exciting brand of hockey that can showcase the talent of the guys,” he said. The skating talent of the guys hopefully is going to shine and we want to be a quick team and play the body.”
71 Evan Rodrigues – 41 Jack Eichel – 73 Nicholas Baptiste
56 Justin Bailey – 23 Sam Reinhart – 74 Vaclav Karabacek
43 Daniel Catenacci – 58 Giorgio Estephan – 46 Eric Cornel
72 Jean Dupuy – 42 Justin Kea – 51 Jack Nevins
48 William Carrier – 70 Matt Garbowsky – 64 Cason Hohmann / 75 Colin Jacobs
Defensemen: 29 Jake McCabe, 45 Brendan Guhle, 53 Devante Stephens, 54 Brycen Martin, 62 David Henley, 67 Brady Austin, 78 Matt Prapavessis, 81 Spiro Goulakos, 85 Josh Chapman
1 Andrey Makarov
33 Keegan Asmundson
60 C.J. Motte