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Sharpen Up: July 17, 2017

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

Another development camp is in the books and we won't have hockey again for a few months. Don't get too sad.

Here's what you need to know.


3-on-3 action

Development camp wrapped up on Tuesday with the 3-on-3 French Connection Tournament at HarborCenter. Your winners? 

Team White: Forwards Casey Mittelstadt, Hudson Fasching, Rasmus Asplund, and Eric Cornel, defensemen Brett Murray, Brycen Martin, Erik Autio, and goaltender Jake McGrath. 

RJ called the action with Rob Ray and Brian Duff on our live feed here at Catch all the highlights here, including Asplund receiving the Craig Ramsay Award for his leadership during camp. 

Video: 2017 French Connection Highlights

Check out video of the full tournament here and here. (Just remember to sit back and relax!) 

The tournament was the first real opportunity for the new front office and coaching staff to leave their mark on the players within the organization. General manager Jason Botterill, assistant GM (and Rochester Americans GM) Randy Sexton, Sabres coach Phil Housley and Amerks coach Chris Taylor have all stressed the need for strong communication at all levels in their commitment to development. 

Jourdon LaBarber took a deeper look at their approach in this feature story that you should read. 

Here's a sampling: 

Video: TAYLOR: Development Camp

It took one day of camp for players to notice a change in the atmosphere under Taylor and the new staff. The energy was positive and the atmosphere was loose, which may be an indication of what's to come in Buffalo and Rochester. 

"It's hockey. I think that's the most important thing, is it's a game still," Taylor said. "If you enjoy what you do at the rink, you're going to perform and you're going to want to do it. We don't want people uptight, you're holding the stick you can't make a pass, you're not talking to each other. We want everybody to know each other."

Video: BOTTERILL: Post Dev Camp Day 4

Botterill emphasized a focus on the person as much as the player when asked about his approach to drafting. That has held true in the early going; players who interviewed with the Sabres at the NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo said the questions were mostly personality based, and the focus at development camp was as much about growing off the ice as it was on it. 

Video: Randy Sexton: Dev Camp Day 1 (7/8/17)

"The on-ice is only one part," Sexton explained. "The more important part - and the part we're really watching for - is how do you handle yourself off the ice? How do you take advantage of all the incredible resources we have here to help you help yourself be better? That's really the focus of this camp. It's not about stops and starts or bag skates. It's about helping each of these young players access the resources they need to be as good as they're capable of becoming."

Video: HOUSLEY: Dev Camp Wrap Up

And stay tuned for 1-on-1 interviews that Duffer conducted with some of the prospects before they headed back home for more off-season training. 

Duffer also shared some of his takeaways from dev camp in a summer edition of #Duffalo, which you can read here.

Mark your calendars

The Prospects Challenge is returning to HarborCenter for the third year in a row this fall. The Bruins, Devils and Penguins will compete with the Sabres in the round-robin showcase from Sept. 8-11. 

Tickets for the games are $10 and will go on sale on Aug. 7 at 10 a.m. Tickets can be purchased in person at the KeyBank Center Box Office, by phone at 1-888-223-6000 or online here at

Congrats, Soupy

Finally, congrats to Brian Campbell on a great career. The defenseman announced his retirement this morning after 17 seasons and 1,082 games. He started his career in Buffalo after being drafted by the Sabres in the sixth round (156th overall) in the 1997 NHL Draft. He won the Stanley Cup with Chicago back in 2010. 

Of course, here, is name is pretty much synonymous with this hit:

Video: Diamond in the Rough: Brian Campbell

Campbell will join the Blackhawks front office, where he will assist with marketing, community relations and youth hockey initiatives.

On tap this week

Stay tuned to for any breaking news. As we mentioned, we'll have some more things from development camp as well to keep filling your hockey appetite. 

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