Buffalo, NY -- When the name Brayden McNabb is brought up in a conversation amongst Buffalo Sabres team personnel, the media and fans alike, one word is consistent throughout:
The 21-year old defenseman is atop the list of Sabres' prospects at his position, and got a taste of the NHL in his first professional season. A rash of injuries paved the way for McNabb to get a 25-game audition with the big club.
Solid defensive play and unusual poise for a young player early on led many to believe that McNabb very well could be a top pair defenseman to go along with the likes of Tyler Myers.
Despite all that oozing potential, McNabb still has to play his way on to the team rather than being guaranteed a spot. In a recent interview, the brass of the Sabres admitted that at this point the young defenseman is penciled in for a role in the AHL with the Rochester Americans.
It's a fair statement, considering the depth at the position already. Buffalo has Myers, Robyn Regehr, Christian Ehrhoff, Jordan Leopold, Andrej Sekera, Mike Weber, Alexander Sulzer and Adam Pardy as players competing for just six or seven spots.
Despite the odds at this point, McNabb aims to force the Sabres' hand and play his way on to the roster throughout training camp and the preseason. He says he won't settle for starting in Rochester.
"That's not what I want," McNabb said. "I'm gonna try and expect to be in the NHL and try and be there. So, I'm gonna go forward with it. But if I am, I'm just gonna work hard if I do get sent down there."
With so many defensemen throughout the roster, the threat of a trade looms. It almost seems as though someone has to be moved. McNabb isn't letting it get to him.
"You just can't worry about it," he said. "Control what I can control, put it past you and just work as hard as you can trying to improve every day. That's what I'm trying to do, that's my mentality."
One thing McNabb is trying to control is bulking up for the upcoming season. Listed on the official roster at 204-pounds, the 6-foot-4 blue liner aims to get around the 216 mark.
"The biggest thing for me is maintaining that weight throughout the year," McNabb remarked. "It's all nutrition and stuff like that and I've been getting a lot better."
In his journey to make the team outright, the development camp at First Niagara Center serves as McNabb's first step.
"It's experience," he said. "I know I can play in the NHL and I believe in myself. That's how I want to go forward with this."
McNabb and the rest of the players in attendance wrapped up the final day of on-ice workouts on Wednesday. The prospects will participate in the Blue and Gold scrimmage Thursday night at First Niagara Center. The contest starts at 6 pm and costs $10 for general admission seating.