Three other Sabre first round picks are impressing
Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) -- Mikhail Grigorenko played on a line with Dan Catenacci and Hudson Fasching. The line didn’t score, but quite possibly they were the game’s best line.
Once the three got a cycle going, they sustained pressure on the goaltenders. If it wasn’t for some sparkling goaltending by Linus Ullmark, the trio could’ve been on the board.
Grigorenko has bragged on Facebook about the work he’s been putting in this summer to be stronger and better. It’s work that his coach in Rochester Chadd Cassidy has noticed, “I think he’s been good all week. We all know Mikhail’s strengths and weaknesses and I think he’s addressed them, I think he was really good with the puck tonight and I thought he was way better without it and he was that way at the end of the year in Rochester too.” Cassidy added, “He continues to make strides and we have to keep in prospective that he’s still a young kid and he’s got the right perspective coming into camp. He knows there’s a lot in front of him and he’s got a lot that he has to earn and we’ve been really happy with his attitude and his work ethic.”
Rasmus Ristolainen improved by leaps and bounds after starting in Buffalo last season and then going to Rochester. Cassidy thinks he and Jerome Leduc have impressed him the most from last season until now, “He’s definitely leaned out a lot. He lost a little bit of baby fat and I think conditioning wise it’s going to help him. The biggest thing he had to address in Rochester was finishing shifts. When he got extended in the D zone, he had a really hard time and it usually ended up with some scoring chances against us, so he worked hard on his nutrition and his workout habits and it’s paid off for him.”
I have to be honest, Ristolainen looked to me like he had gotten bigger, but in reality, it’s the opposite, “I have lost a couple of pounds and I feel pretty light right now. I’ve lost fat, not any muscles”
The other number one pick taken after Ristolainen was Nikita Zadorov. He played seven games here last season and wasn’t out of place, but Ted Nolan felt his development would be better served in junior. This season he can’t go to Rochester so he either has to make the Sabres or go back to Dale Hunter and the London Knights. That’s a trip he doesn’t think he needs, “Last year they changed everything here so that’s why maybe they sent me back because it was easy to send me back, now I know and I think everybody saw that I’m ready to go into the NHL and ready to play here. We have a couple of empty spots on the D and I can make it.”
Zadorov is spending the whole summer in Buffalo to get stronger. He said, “I’ve been working physically, I mean everything, being physical, speed with quick feet because it’s hard to play against small forwards in the corners.”
Of course there’s plenty excitement over the second overall pick this season in Sam Reinhart, but I think at least two of these first round picks are going to turn into very good players. Fans should be encouraged because all three are putting the work in.