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Sharpen Up: September 13, 2017

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

With training camp set to open on Thursday, Sabres coach Phil Housley joined The Instigators on Tuesday morning to discuss his system, what he saw at the Prospects Challenge and what he'll be looking for over the next month as the team prepares for the regular season.

You can click play below to listen to the interview with Andrew Peters, Craig Rivet and Marty Biron in its entirety. Otherwise, here are a few takeaways:

Housley was impressed by Brendan Guhle
With his speed and ability to join the rush, Guhle has already drawn comparisons to the type of player that Housley was during his own Hall of Fame career. That skillset makes him a perfect candidate to play in Housley's system, which the coach described on Tuesday:

"Our system is going to be that we're going to play fast, we're going to play with speed," he said. "I know those are old clichés, but we really need to have a five-man attack because in today's game, your D have to be mobile. We're going to try and implement that in training camp and I think guys are going to really like when they grasp it."

While Guhle's offensive contributions - he scored six points in three games - really stuck out during the Prospects Challenge, Housley described how his speed will also be an asset defensively.

"Brendan Guhle's a terrific skater. His mobility is really incredible," Housley said. "His skating, and you talk about offensively, that can be used defensively as well: closing gaps, getting the stick on the puck and being aggressive in that area."

Housley also listed Justin Bailey, C.J. Smith and Cliff Pu as players who impressed him during the Prospects Challenge. 

What Housley might looking for in a captain
Jason Botterill said Monday that the decision on who will be named captain of the Sabres will be made jointly by him and Housley, with input from other members of the coaching staff. Housley listed a couple of captains who were impactful on him during his own playing career, beginning with a name familiar to Sabres fans.

"Gilbert Perrault was a great captain," he said. "He wasn't really an aggressive guy, but when he said something, boy, you listened and it meant something. 

Housley then went on to mention Troy Murray, who was a 10-year veteran by the time he captained Housley for two seasons in Winnipeg.

"Troy Murray I thought was really a terrific captain," he said. "He would step up and challenge guys, which I liked. I like the motion of that and the passion of that, I think it breeds a little bit of competition."

Spots are up for grabs on the Sabres roster
Whether they're won by prospects or by the veteran players brought in over the summer, Housley reaffirmed that there will be competition for spots on the NHL roster this fall. 

"There's going to be competition within our camp," he said. "I don't care if you're a seasoned veteran, I think the attitude of trying to make the team always helps ... But there are spots available. How many? I don't know. That'll play out in training camp and the exhibition games."

Which spots are available will also depend on where Housley sees certain established players fitting into the lineup. Sam Reinhart and Zemgus Girgensons are examples of players who have played both center and wing, and Housley said he expects to try different players at different positions during the six preseason games.

Now, onto the other news from Tuesday.


Blackwell, Atwal receive invites to Amerks camp

The Sabres reassigned Arvin Atwal, Colin Blackwell, Justin Danforth, Anthony Florentino, Alex Kile and Daniel Muzito-Bagenda to camp with the Rochester Americans on Tuesday. While the latter four players are already on AHL deals, Atwal and Blackwell earned invites after strong performances at the Prospects Challenge, which you can read more about here.

Buffalo also released Jake McGrath, Carl Neill and Clint Windsor from their respective tryouts.


Paetsch will serve in leadership role for Amerks

Former Sabres and Amerk Nathan Paetsch agreed to a one-year deal with Rochester on Monday following a five-year stint with the Grand Rapids Griffins. He won two Calder Cups in that span, including a championship as team captain last season, and said he believes he has something to offer in terms of leadership to the Amerks dressing room.

"Having success the last five years, I've been part of the culture and I've been part of the success of a winning culture," he said. "Hopefully I can bring that here and give what knowledge I have."

You can watch his interview with Erica Whyte in its entirety below. 

Tweet from @AmerksHockey: WATCH | Nathan Paetsch: "This is home for us. I'm very excited to play for my hometown team."


Camp opens tomorrow

Can you believe we're only one day away? The players will report to KeyBank Center for the opening of camp on Thursday morning, and we'll have coverage throughout the day on 

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