Nicholas Baptiste will make his NHL debut tonight as the Sabres take on the Calgary Flames in the Scotiabank Saddledome tonight.
Baptiste was selected 69th overall by the Sabres in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft and spent all of last season with the Rochester Amerks, posting 28 points in 62 games. Baptiste is a big-bodied grinder with goal scoring ability. At 6’0″ and 200 pound, he boasts an excellent net-front presence and two-way checking ability. After a stand out performance throughout training camp, he is the first Rochester call-up ahead of more experienced players like Justin Bailey and Cal O’Reilly.
“He’s a big kid. He can skate like the wind,” Head coach Dan Bylsma said. “You saw him be effective in games in training camp and exhibitions with that speed beating guys, driving wide. That’s what he’s got to be ready to do tonight.”
Baptiste beamed with anticipation regarding his first taste of NHL action, where he will serve on a line with veteran Matt Moulson and newcomer Derek Grant.
“I’m going to be excited. The first shift or two I’ll be skating real hard but I have to lock in. I know I’ve paved the way here for myself and I’ve earned it so I’ve got to enjoy it a little bit. At the end of the day, it’s a business so I have to make sure I play my best to stay up here as long as possible.” – Nick Baptiste
With Matt Moulson finally looking rejuvenated after his abysmal campaign last season, Baptiste will be in an excellent position to collect points and help kick-start Derek Grant at center. Up until now, the lineup has been lacking that road grader type of presence in the offensive zone. Baptiste will look to pave the way for his teammates to take advantage of screens and open shooting lanes that he has been known to provide during his time in Rochester.