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Sharpen Up: August 7, 2017

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

We had some exciting summer hockey to watch this past week and we're now about a month away from the start of training camp. 

Here's what you need to know.

Casey Mittelstadt was outstanding this past week at the 2017 World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Michigan. Buffalo's top pick in 2017 recorded nine points (5+3) in five games, including a four-point effort on Tuesday against a Canadian split squad. 

USA vs. CAN 8/1/17

Adam Kimelman of caught up with Mittelstadt at the showcase, which served as an evaluation camp for the four teams involved (the U.S., Canada, Finland and Sweden) for the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship in Buffalo. 

"He's so confident," coach Bob Motzko said. "His talent level is off the charts."

Mittelstadt's inspired play is a remnant of last year's Summer Showcase, when he was an early cut and then wasn't invited to the final selection camp for the 2017 WJC in December.

"Obviously it was tough," he said. "You want to make it and be here as long as you can. At the same time it was a good learning lesson.

"…"There's unfinished business. Everywhere I go I want to be one of the main contributors and make a lot of plays on the ice. That's what I think I do best."

Other future Sabres who participated included Cliff Pu (Canada), Marcus Davidsson (Sweden) and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen. 

Prospects Challenge tickets on sale now

The next time we'll see Sabres players on the ice in a game situation, it'll be for the third annual Prospects Challenge next month. 

Prospects from the Sabres, Penguins, Bruins and Devils will compete in a round-robin challenge from Sept. 8-11 at HarborCenter. Full rosters will be available closer to the actual event, but for now, get your tickets for only $10 here.

Beaulieu's signed

Nathan Beaulieu signed a two-year contract with Buffalo last week with an average annual value (AAV) of $2.4 million.

A first-round pick (17th overall) in the 2011 NHL Draft, Beaulieu was acquired by the Sabres in June for a 2017 third-round pick after the defenseman turned in career-high totals in games played (74), goals (4), assists (24) and points (28) during his fifth NHL season with the Montreal Canadiens in 2016-17.

Beaulieu has appeared in 225 career NHL regular-season games, recording 60 points (7+53) and a plus-19 rating. The Strathroy, Ontario native has added four points in 17 career playoff games with the Canadiens.

Zemgus Girgensons is the only restricted free agent still unsigned. 

NBCSN schedule announced

NBC has released its national broadcast schedule for the 2017-18 season, and it includes seven appearances for the Sabres. Buffalo will appear once on NBC, for the 2018 Bridgestone Winter Classic against the New York Rangers on Jan. 1, and an additional six times on NBCSN.

The date to circle might be Monday, March 5, when the rivalry between the Sabres and Maple Leafs takes center stage for Buffalo's home game against Toronto on NBCSN. It will be the first meeting of the season between the two teams and their young superstars, Jack Eichel and Auston Matthews.

Here's the complete list of Sabres appearances on NBC networks: 

Tuesday, Oct. 24 vs. Detroit - 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)

Wednesday, Oct. 25 at Columbus - 8 p.m. (NBCSN)

Tuesday, Nov. 7 vs. Washington - 7 p.m. (NBCSN)

Tuesday, Dec. 19 vs Boston - 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)

Sunday, Jan. 1 vs. New York Rangers - 1 p.m. (2018 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on NBC)

Thursday, Jan. 18 at New York Rangers - 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)

Monday, March 5 vs. Toronto - 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)

Note that some of those start times have changed.

Need an updated version of the schedule to print out? We've got it right here for you. 

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