|2010 Development Camp (Buffalo Sabres) |
♦ Interesting week at Development Camp. The big stories were not on who was there, but on the free-agent signings by Sabres. In particular Rob Niedermayer. It’s a good sign that a player of his experience would choose the Sabres. It means he thinks they can win. I believe you’ll see more of this in the new era of the salary cap; veteran free agents in the last third of their career taking one-year contracts to play for a winning team. Mike Grier has done so the last two years for the Sabres. It also benefits the teams signing these players. The Sabres get two veteran players that bring professionalism and leadership for the season, and then off-season cap space and flexibility. A good fit.
♦ Many fans are wondering why Niedermayer? Besides the leadership and experience, he brings 10 goals from last season with New Jersey, the ability to take faceoffs and the ability to kill penalties. Now if he could only convince his brother to come out of retirement and demand a trade to Buffalo.
♦ I was glad to see Patrick Lalime re-sign for another campaign as Ryan Miller
’s back up. I like to root for good people and he fits into that category. His relationship with Miller played a big factor, but his numbers were solid during some tough-luck performances last year. Lindy Ruff made it a point to mention the loss he incurred in the final game against New Jersey when he pulled Lalime because the Sabres needed a regulation win over the Devils to get the second seed. It was a gamble that hurt Lalime’s numbers, but you didn’t hear him complain about it. Lalime’s numbers were respectable with a .907 save percentage and 2.81 GAA. Those numbers (granted only 16 games) were better than Michael Leighton’s, Josh Harding’s, Jonas Gustavson’s, Steve Mason’s, and Marty Biron’s.
♦ Evaluating prospects at development camp is not the easiest thing to do, so I’ll leave that to the scouts and coaching staff who know what they are looking for. But, here is what I saw:
- Zack Kassian has great size, but needs to move his feet more.
- I’m interested to see what TJ Brennan does this season in Portland. You can tell he has worked on his fitness and skating. He gets his shot through from the point more often than not.
- Mark Pysyk can skate.
- Marcus Foligno had an impressive final day scrimmage, and was not afraid to use the body.
- Tyler Myers, Tyler Ennis, and Nathan Gerbe looked far above the rest -- as they should have.
♦ It was nice to see and meet many of the fans at camp last week. I am always amazed at the number of fans who show up, and the passion they express. The kids in attendance really made it fun, especially when they chanted to Darcy “Sign Kovalchuk, Sign Kovalchuk, Sign Kovalchuk”. Even Darcy laughed.