News | 7/14/2014 6:33:21 PM | Rob Crean
| Jordan Sameuls-Thomas (Photo: Bill Wippert)
Nearly 40 Buffalo Sabres prospects took the ice at First Niagara Center on Monday as the organization’s week-long Development Camp got underway.
VIDEO: PLAYER INTERVIEWS
DAY 1 PHOTO GALLERY
The roster for the annual camp features a mix of young players, most of whom have been drafted by Buffalo in recent years. Some have already turned pro, others are getting ready to make the jump to the professional ranks, and some will return to their respective college or junior teams in the fall. But the goal for all of them is the same: to improve their game and make an impression on the coaches and front office staff.
“We have to make sure these guys are developing the right way and we’re pointing them in the right direction,” said Amerks Head Coach Chadd Cassidy, who ran Monday’s practices alongside Amerks assistant coaches Chris Taylor, John Wroblewski and Bob Janosz. “We know that eventually they’re going to be the future of the organization so we have to make sure we’re preparing them the right way.”
In terms of the competition among the prospects for future roster spots, Cassidy said everything must be earned.
“The nature of this business is that it’s going to be earned and not given. We have a lot of good players at a lot of positions.”
The No. 2 overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, Sam Reinhart, was excited to finally get on the ice Monday after experiencing a whirlwind in the weeks before and after being selected by the Sabres.
His time in Buffalo so far has been spent getting acquainted with local media, sponsors and members of the community, while also seeing some of what the city has to offer. He even attended a Buffalo Bisons baseball game recently and threw out the ceremonial first pitch. But now, he gets to focus on hockey.
“It was great,” Reinhart said of the first day of development camp. “It’s a lot more comforting knowing all that is over and now you can get down to business and enjoy the week of your first experience at the NHL level. I think I’m just taking it all in stride and enjoying the process.”
Once training camp rolls around in September, Reinhart has his sights set on trying to make the big club as an 18-year-old.
“If I come (into camp) and play the way I’m capable of playing, I feel confident I can earn a spot and make an impact next year,” he said.
Newly-acquired forward Jordan Samuels-Thomas strapped on his Sabres gear for the first time on Monday after being traded just last week. Originally drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2009 before the franchise relocated to Winnipeg, Samuels-Thomas recently completed his collegiate hockey career with Quinnipiac, where he played his final two seasons after skating the previous two years at Bowling Green. A restricted free agent at the time of the trade, Samuels-Thomas signed a one-year deal with Buffalo on Saturday.
WATCH: JORDAN SAMUELS-THOMAS INTERVIEW
“At 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, I’m a power forward and I have to keep the game simple,” said Samuels-Thomas while describing what type of player he is. “I really rounded out my game this year to not be a one-dimensional player and so I can be trusted in all situations.”
With his college career now behind him, the native of Hartford, Connecticut, is excited to begin the next phase of his development in the Sabres organization.
“I was excited (about the trade). Buffalo is a great city, and I’m excited for a new opportunity with an organization that’s really serious about changing the culture. I’m excited to be a part of it.”
Samuels-Thomas was not the only player acquired in a recent trade that was participating in Development Camp.
William Carrier, a forward who played his junior hockey in the QMJHL and racked up 65 points this season, joined the Sabres organization back in February as part of the deal that sent longtime netminder Ryan Miller and Buffalo captain Steve Ott to the St. Louis Blues.
The trade deadline deal that sent Amerks defensemen Brayden McNabb to the Los Angeles Kings included forward Hudson Fasching coming to the Sabres organization. Fasching currently plays at the University of Minnesota and is also skating in his first Sabres Development Camp.
Among those in attendance at Development Camp were 12 players that suited up for the Amerks last season. They included forwards Joel Armia, Dan Catenacci, Mikhail Grigorenko, Colin Jacobs, Justin Kea, Tim Schaller and Kevin Sundher, defensemen Jerome Leduc, Mark Pysyk and Rasmus Ristolainen, along with goaltenders Nathan Lieuwen and Andrey Makarov.
Day 2 of Development Camp on Tuesday will feature the team’s intra-squad scrimmage and it will be streamed live on Sabres.com at 7 p.m. The scrimmage will include three 20-minute, stopped-time periods. The Sabres broadcast team of Dan Dunleavy and Rob Ray will call the game, with Brian Duff conducting interviews during the intermissions. The scrimmage at First Niagara Center is open to the public with free admission and parking.