By Erica Whyte
The final year of his entry-level contract proved to be a banner year for 6-foot-4 defenseman Brady Austin, who tallied a career-high 12 points and earned his first and second NHL call-ups.
“I had a bit of a slow start, but I think as the year went on I got more comfortable,” Austin said about his third professional season. "It was nice to get games with Buffalo, and I think I got a lot of confidence from that.”
After just over 200 games wearing the Amerks crest, Austin got his first NHL call-up, followed a few days later by a return trip to Buffalo. And he certainly made the most of it.
“Making my debut was definitely a dream come true and very special not only for me but my family,” said Austin, who logged 15:37 of ice time in Buffalo’s 2-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings on March 20. “To play my first NHL game in Joe Louis Arena in one of the last games at that place, it was awesome. Having my family there…it was pretty emotional, but overall it was pretty cool.
The biggest takeaway that Austin had from his stints in the NHL was that he felt like he belonged on the Sabres squad.
“I learned that I can handle myself up there. I didn’t feel out of place, I felt pretty comfortable, so just take that moving forward."
In fact, his time with the big club further fueled his drive to get back up there.
“After getting a taste like that, obviously you think you’re pretty close, and you want to get to that next level. I’ve worked hard for it.”
With a steadily improving offensive game, Austin tallied 10 points in his first pro season, 11 points in his second and 12 in his third. However, the Bobcaygeon, Ontario, native says that being a ‘points guy’ isn’t part of his game.
“It’s always nice to get points,” he said, 'but I’m not a guy that’s going to be putting up crazy numbers. But you definitely like to see yourself progress over the three seasons.”
Speaking of progress, Austin zoned in on the areas he hopes to grow in this off-season.
“I’m going to be working to improve my speed, obviously strength is a big thing and just working on the details of my game.”
But first, he said, “I’m going to probably take a month off here and enjoy the weather.”