The puck has officially dropped on 2015 NHL training camps and teams are getting down to business. For many rookies this is a chance to prove to their teams that they are worth a look this season, for others this is an opportunity to show how much they have improved in the offseason and for some still this is their last shot to earn an NHL contract. The NHL preseason is an exciting time for many players and fans with regular season action right around the corner.
For the last place team in the league, the Buffalo Sabres are set to have a very interesting camp. With Jack Eichel firmly in the organization, the team is wanting to move up the rankings and head towards the playoff picture. Their season of tanking in now in the past and now they get down to winning.
The Sabres have made some big offseason moves to improve their team moving forward. While the moves will be an instant improvement, they limit the spots available for rookies to crack the roster. Aside from Eichel, it will be tough slugging for the future of the Sabres to crack the roster this season.
Here are 3 battles you should watch during preseason camps;
The Buffalo Sabres 2nd overall pick from 2014 proceeds Eichel, but will have a much tougher time cracking the roster. After a rough showing at last year’s camp, Reinhart went back to junior with the intent of getting stronger and working on his skating. He’s come to camp as a different player who looks ready to jump into the NHL.
Despite the belief that he’d need some time in the AHL this season before making a full-time jump to the NHL, Reinhart looks like he’ll post a pretty good fight to earn a spot.
The biggest question is where do the Sabres put him in the line-up? He’s a natural centre, but the team has a bit of a logjam up the middle right now.
Head coach Dan Bylsma stated that the goal is to get Reinhart playing on a line alongside Eichel; However, it’s tough to find a spot for him inside the top six right now. Whether Reinhart forces a spot at centre, on the wing or ultimately gets sent down to the AHL will be a very interesting battle this offseason.
In anticipation of landing Eichel, the Sabres signed his college linemate Evan Rodrigues in the offseason. the undrafted 22-year-old forward is expected to play big minutes with the Rochester Americans this season, but is looking mighty good at training camp. He’s making a big name for himself at camp and could be one of the Sabres best prospects down the road.
Watching his speed and skill on the ice helps ice the pain from the Joel Armia trade.
Mark Pysyk and Jake McCabe
Adding free agent defenceman Cody Franson certainly makes the Sabres blueline better, but it also jams up the top six. Between Franson, Rasmus Ristolainen, Josh Gorges, Zach Bogosian, Carlo Colaiacovo and Mike Weber, the defensive corps seems a little full.
Add top prospects Mark Pysyk and Jake McCabe to mix and there are a few too many men for the job. It’s expected Pysyk already has a spot on the team- perhaps even in the top four. He’s played with the Sabres before and is ready to make the step. The big question falls on McCabe. He came into prospects camp and eat up the competition. He’s going to battle hard to crack the squad, but he’s got the skill and potential. His play in training camp will be a big telltale.