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By Jourdon LaBarber for

In most respects, Sean Malone is a veteran at development camp. He's now four years removed from his draft year, after all, and he's one of a handful of players at camp with NHL experience under his belt after making his debut with the Sabres at the end of last season.

In another sense, Malone's experience at this camp might be a bit unfamiliar. This is his first time being able to participate in on-ice activities at development camp since 2014, having undergone hip surgery in each of the last two offseasons.

"It's been a grind for me personally," Malone said. "The last two summers was just rehabbing pretty much. I wasn't able to skate. I'd get to school and start skating and try to get ready for the season. It's nice building up some strength over the offseason and actually feeling prepared going into the season."

Having to play catch-up on his conditioning program may have hampered his collegiate seasons in years past, but he stepped up in a big way as a senior at Harvard last season. Malone scored 42 points (18+24) in 36 games, more than doubling his previous career high.

The Crimson, meanwhile, won the Beanpot, the ECAC championship and made it all the way to the Frozen Four. They fell short in the semifinal game against Minnesota Duluth, with Malone's last-second shot to tie the game ringing the crossbar.

Instead of playing for the national championship, Malone - a West Seneca native - found himself playing for his hometown Sabres in Florida two days later.

Malone skated 12:12 of ice time in his NHL debut, but he learned as much in his time there off the ice as he did on it. He cited conversations with Zach Bogosian and Jack Eichel, the latter of whom was his junior teammate with the U.S. National U-18 Team, as being especially helpful.


"After my season ended, I wanted to get a taste somewhere," Malone said. "I was able to learn some things by talking to some of the guys there that learned from their experiences as a younger player going to play professional, so I'm hoping to take what I learned from them and apply it to next season."

Malone's goal for this offseason his to improve his ability to create separation and make plays down low. Finally, he'll have a full summer to work on that.

As for his strengths, he believes he's well-equipped for today's NHL.

"I feel like I excel in areas around the net," he said. "I like to get to the net and score greasy goals. I think my strength [is] probably my speed. I feel up-tempo, I feel good now and the way the game's changing and stuff like that right now, I feel it works in my favor."

Here's more from Day 3 of development camp.

Looking ahead to the French Connection Tournament

With no Blue and Gold Scrimmage this year, Tuesday's 3-on-3 French Connection Tournament should present the most competitive atmosphere of the camp. Hudson Fasching and other camp veterans will be looking to play like they've been there before.

"It's kind of the time when you have the ability to kind of go show where you're dynamic, the most game-like situation at camp this year," Fasching said. "So, definitely, you want to go there and dominate, you want to be making plays. I think it's the most showing of any of the exercise we're going to be doing here."

The 3-on-3 tournament will be live streamed on beginning at 9 a.m. Rick Jeanneret, Brian Duff and Rob Ray will be on the call, so be sure to bring a pair of headphones to work if you're not able to make it down to HarborCenter.

The Sabres, meanwhile, concluded their sessions on Monday with some 3-on-3 drills.

Stephens leaves with injury

Defenseman Devante Stephens left the ice injured after taking a hit from Fasching into the corner during the first session. Fasching said he spoke with Stephens afterward.

"You never want to see that," Fasching said. "Just going into the corner hard, he got tangled up a little bit. I was talking to him after, he kind of twisted and fell into the boards weird. You never want to see that, especially your own teammate."

Stephens, 20, scored a career-high 35 points (13+22) in 67 games for Kelowna of the WHL last season. He signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Sabres on April 26.

Rochester Americans coach Chris Taylor said Stephens was doing alright following practice, but was unsure of his status for Tuesday's 3-on-3 tournament.

Asplund has an eye on the Olympics

Rasmus Asplund said it was Botterill's preference that he return to Sweden for one more season before coming over to North America. He sounded more than happy to do so, and discussed the different possibilities it might afford him.

"One more year in Sweden will be great for me," Asplund said. "I'll have a chance to play for the national team, maybe to go pre-camp for the World Championship. The Olympic Games are coming up too and NHL players are not allowed to go, so I have a chance to aim for that too."


Asplund, a second-round pick in 2016, scored a career-high 19 points (6+13) in his third SHL season with Farjestad BK. With a greater role next season, he'll look to boost those totals even more.

"I need to get up to 30 points this year," he said. "I'm going to play a lot on the power play, a lot on the second line with great players. We have a good team so I really need to step up with the points."

Borgen had a rooting interest in the Stanley Cup Final

William Borgen said he enjoyed watching Phil Housley's Nashville defense in the playoffs, but he was rooting for Pittsburgh and fellow Moorhead, Minnesota native Matt Cullen to win the Cup.

Borgen explained that Cullen, who like Borgen went from Moorhead High to St. Cloud State University, returns to his hometown every offseason to work with local young players.

"It's awesome. He's a great player and a great role model," Borgen said. "He always come out and helps with the college kids that are playing. He runs drills out there, he has skating coaches that come out and help us. He teaches us a lot of things."


Borgen scored 12 points (2+10) in 33 games for St. Cloud as a sophomore last season, but explained that a jump to the pros wasn't in the cards quite yet.

"School is the number one priority for me right now, just trying to get a degree," he said. "You can't play hockey forever. That's my mom's theory."

11/17/2018 7:05 PM / Providence, RI
Rochester Americans vs. Providence Bruins