By Jourdon LaBarber for Sabres.com
Colin Blackwell and Arvin Atwal received praise from Rochester Americans coach Chris Taylor for their play throughout the Prospects Challenge. It turns out they did enough to earn a chance to play for Taylor in Rochester this season.
Blackwell and Atwal were assigned to Amerks camp on Tuesday morning, along with four players already on AHL deals: Justin Danforth, Anthony Florentino, Alex Kile and Daniel Muzito-Bagenda. The team also released Jake McGrath, Carl Neill and Clint Windsor from their respective tryouts.
Blackwell, who played 54 AHL games as a rookie with San Jose last season, made a name for himself early with a two-goal outing against New Jersey on Friday. Taylor said he thought the 24-year-old centerman actually improved over the next two games.
"He just competes really hard," Taylor said following Monday's finale against Pittsburgh. "He killed a lot of penalties, really good on the faceoffs again … He had a great tournament."
Atwal, who spent last season with the ECHL's Cincinnati Cyclones (now a Sabres affiliate), managed to stand out for his physicality on defense and even dropped the gloves against Boston on Saturday.
Even for a player like McGrath, who was strong in his only performance in net on Saturday, the lack of an invite now doesn't mean he didn't improve his standing with the organization going forward.
"I think they helped themselves out, just their reputations as players," Sabres general manager Jason Botterill said of the invites at camp. "Sometimes there's not that sort of immediate result for them but throughout the year you're thinking, 'Remember how that guy performed at that rookie tournament? We've got to get him back into the organization' … I thought it was outstanding.