Buffalo, NY -- What a difference it's been from one year to the next for young Buffalo Sabres forward Marcus Foligno.
This time last year, Foligno was thought to be an up-and-coming prospect that was destined to start the season in the American Hockey League with the Rochester Americans. With a similar skill-set to Zack Kassian, he was thought to be behind him on the depth chart.
Injuries mixed in with Kassian being dealt opened the door for Foligno to make his mark in the NHL. Upon his arrival, Foligno became one of the hottest players on a line with Tyler Ennis and Drew Stafford, propelling the Sabres to a near playoff berth in a season that started off on a rather sour note.
With all that in the rearview mirror, Foligno is the big man on campus in his third straight Development Camp with the Sabres.
"I think when you get older you want to be a leader," he said about all his experience in this setting. "It's certainly my job out here. I just meet the guys and get them comfortable out here. I remember my first camp I was pretty nervous. You just want to make sure that you're talking to them and seeing what they need and if you can do anything to help them out. That's just one of the jobs of being a vet at this camp."
Foligno had plenty of new blood surrounding him. The forward had the likes of Mikhail Grigorenko, Zemgus Girgensons and Joel Armia in his group that were participating in the camp for the very first time.
Grigorenko and Girgensons being two of the newest additions, they bring something to the table that many fans like about Foligno, their size.
"Those guys are skilled, but there's a lot of other guys too that are skilled out here and have some nifty moves," he said. "Yeah there's some big guys here at this camp too, so it's great to see that we're getting a little bit bigger."
Even though he's quickly becoming a fan favorite, and is a player that seemingly is a shoe-in to be on the Sabres when the season opens up, Foligno isn't taking thing for granted.
"No, not expecting [to make the team], no. There's a lot of good players here and there's a lot of guys that can fill that left wing role. It's a competition so you've got to act like it," Foligno remarked. "My objective is to make the team and to stick and to play a full year next year. I'll do whatever it takes, that's for sure. I've had a taste of it and I really want to be here next year."
Foligno and the roughly 40 players that make up the development camp roster will continue their workouts on Tuesday and Wednesday, leading up to the Blue and Gold scrimmage on Thursday night.