Sabres Hockey Central was on hand at First Niagara Center this morning for a press conference held by Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier, and Director of Amateur Scouting Kevin Devine, to discuss the Sabres’ selections at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft and the upcoming free agency period. A recap of the topics mentioned can be found below:
– All 11 players drafted by the Sabres at Sunday’s entry draft should be at the development camp next week.
– The development camp has been compacted into 3 days as opposed to the original five. The reason given for this was that the Sabres coaches want to reduce the amount of time the players spend conditioning themselves in training camp, as the coaches already stress that the players work out all summer.
– Devine is not sure if first round pick Rasmus Ristolainen will play for the Sabres this coming 2013-2014 season; the decision will be dependent on how he performs at training camp. Even if he does not make the Sabres roster, he is expected to at least play with the Sabres’ AHL affiliate Rochester Americans later this year.
– Devine and Regier were both very high on 2nd round pick J.T. Compher, describing him as a “high character guy”, and a combination of Chris Drury and Ryan Callahan. It was noted that Sabres head coach Ron Rolston is very familiar with Compher from the US national program.
– Devine believes that first round pick Nikita Zadarov’s offensive game is highly underrated, and can be useful on the power play.
– Regier expressed that it was difficult to trade Andrej Sekera, saying “He’s a first class person and a very good player”. The team is looking for right/left-handed combinations for defensemen, which Rolston stressed. Jamie McBain, who the Sabres acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes alongside a second round pick in exchange for Sekera, shoots right handed.
– McBain is expected to have a presence on the power play. Rolston also knows him very well from the national program.
– Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller were both described as being “Members of our hockey club” by Regier, but he also noted that it’s his responsibility to avoid them becoming unrestricted free agents and “[…] walk out the door”.
– Matt Ellis is expected to be with Rochester this coming season, once again as the team captain, should he not play with the Sabres. As per Regier – “The focus is to have a very strong veteran leadership component there in order to guide and assist the younger players in their development.”
– The team is still interested in resigning defenseman Alexander Sulzer.
– Regier lauded Mike Weber, who was recently resigned to a three-year contract – “Mike Weber is a heart and soul guy who continues to improve defensively. He’s beginning to take on a leadership role, [is] recognized in the room as someone by example and by his behavior that is worthy of being followed. We look for him as someone that is a ‘glue guy’ on this team that’s going to contribute in a lot of different ways other than even what he does on the ice.”
– It was noted that as of this morning, Rolston had targeted a potential assistant coach. As of this afternoon, that coach was confirmed to be former Colorado Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco, “who will join the team immediately” according to a Sabres press release.
– Both Chad Ruhwedel and Cody McCormick are expected to play with Rochester this season.
– Regier expressed faith that the Harbor Center in downtown Buffalo could eventually become a major location for international hockey in the future.