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Sharpen Up: September 6, 2017

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

We're only two days away from hockey at HarborCenter, and now we know exactly who we'll see take the ice for the Sabres at the Prospects Challenge this weekend. The team released its roster on Tuesday, and it includes most of the names you'd expect: Justin Bailey, Nicholas Baptiste, Hudson Fasching, Brendan Guhle and Alexander Nylander, among others.

You can click here for the full roster, or check out the graphic in the Tweet below. 

Tweet from @BuffaloSabres: Here's our full roster for the 2017 #ProspectsChallenge at @HARBORCTR. Games start on Friday.

We know it's been a while since we checked in on these guys, so here's a refresher on some of the Sabres-centric storylines we'll be watching this weekend and going into training camp.

Competition at forward

The Sabres made it a priority to bolster their defense this offseason, but it came at the expense of some offensive depth. Marcus Foligno and Tyler Ennis were sent to Minnesota in the deal for Marco Scandella and Jason Pominville, while William Carrier was taken by Vegas in the expansion draft. 

What Foligno, Ennis and Carrier all had in common was their natural position on the left wing. Pominville figures to slot in on the right side, leaving Evander Kane, Matt Moulson and Nicolas Deslauriers as the only holdovers on the left.

The Sabres signed Benoit Pouliot to help replenish depth at the position, but a sense still remains that the best avenue for a young forward to crack the lineup may be on the left wing. Bailey and Baptiste acknowledged as much at development camp in July.

"I've made a conscious effort this offseason to work on some of the little things - wall work and some of the things in the D zone that I wasn't used to as much on the left side," Bailey said at the time. "We saw a little bit of that last year when I played my games in the NHL. Cleaning that up a little bit, and then making sure I can do whatever they want me to do, to give me the best chance come September."

But Bailey and Baptiste are only two of a handful of players who could compete for the spot. Hudson Fasching has also proved to be capable in NHL stints and is entering his second pro season, while Alexander Nylander and C.J. Smith both play the left naturally. Nylander had already added size to his frame at development camp, and he's had two months since to continue that progress.

How these players perform at training camp and in preseason games will determine where they stand come October, but the Prospects Challenge will be our first look at the progress they've made this offseason.

Guhle's third go-around

Brendan Guhle has impressed at every camp he's attended with the Sabres, so much so that he forced his name into the conversation for the NHL roster in each of his first two preseasons. Now, Guhle enters his third camp with the added benefit of having NHL experience under his belt thanks to a three-game stint on emergency recall last season.

Guhle handled himself well enough in those three games to suggest that this may be the year he cracks the NHL roster out of camp, but that was before Jason Botterill replenished the defense with the additions of Marco Scandella, Victor Antipin and Nathan Beaulieu. The opportunity for Guhle still exists, but he'll have to earn it. 

In the event Guhle doesn't crack the NHL roster out of camp, he'll be able to develop as a first-year pro in Rochester. Given the emphasis new management has placed on development and success at all levels, it seems like either situation would be a win for the organization. 

Other names to watch

Cliff Pu and Vasily Glotov, Buffalo's third and seventh-round picks in 2016, have both proven to be fan favorites at development camp and both will be on hand this weekend. Pu can wow you with his skating ability, while Glotov can do things like this:

Tweet from @JourdonLaBarber: Glotov. With like 3 seconds left. Awesome. Gold wins 1-0.

There's also a group of first-year pros expected to contribute to Rochester this season, including forwards Alex Kile and Justin Danforth, defensemen Devante Stephens and Anthony Florentino and goalie Jonas Johansson. 

That's all without mentioning the prospects that will be coming to town with Boston, New Jersey and Pittsburgh. We'll take a look at those guys tomorrow, so stay tuned.


Giveaways and other good things

The promotional schedule for the 2017-18 season was announced on Tuesday, and it includes free stuff! There will be eight giveaways, including T-shirts at the opener on Oct. 5, scarves on Hockey Fights Cancer Night and bobbleheads on Fan Appreciation Night.

In addition to all of that fun stuff, dates for Kids Day Games, Family Packs and Sabres Style Girls Night Out events were all announced. You can find all of that information and more by clicking here. 


Sabres sign a defenseman

The Sabres signed Cody Goloubef to a professional tryout agreement on Tuesday. The 27-year-old defenseman tallied five assists in 33 games for Colorado last season and played an additional 18 AHL games for Cleveland and San Antonio. 

Prior to joining Colorado, Goloubef spent six-plus seasons with the Blue Jackets organization, to whom he was drafted in the second round in 2008. He's scored 78 points (20+58) in 219 AHL games and 23 points (2+21) in 129 NHL games. 


We're getting closer …

Training Camp opens on Sept. 14. Jason Pominville is excited, are you?  

Video: "Welcome To Pominville" Training Camp Teaser

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