Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) -- The Sabres started Developmental Camp with seven first round picks in attendance including Mark Pysyk, Mikhail Grigorenko, Zemgus Girgensons, Nikita Zadorv, Rasmus Ristolainen, Joel Armia and of course Samson Reinhart.
With 37 players on the ice for the first part of practice, it was tough to evaluate specific guys, but after they cleaned the ice there were intense three-on-three’s at each end. The ice was very bad which was also a factor in bad passing and such.
Reinhart looked smooth in what he does, not a lot of wasted motion. He sent a no look pass out front finding a wide open Justin Bailey. The Sabres first round pick less than a month ago was glad to finally get on the ice, “It was great, it was a thrill to have that all over with and finally come here. It’s a lot more comforting to know that all of that’s over and you can really get down to business and enjoy the week. It’s my first experience at a NHL level, so I’m just taking it in stride and enjoying the process.”
The players were on the ice Sunday, so this wasn’t their actually first day. Reinhart said, “It went well, I think most of the guys at this stage with their development over the course of summer are trying to get better every day and from yesterday to today to tomorrow, we’re going to continue to get better.”
Developmental Camp isn’t all about what they do on the ice. It gives young players, many of whom are going to come up through the ranks together a chance to get to know each other. Reinhart said, “I’ve been able to get close to quite a few guys that have gotten drafted recently and it’s a great bonding experience for all of us guys coming here.”
With the new Big 10 hockey conference, Minnesota played Michigan four times this year. Hudson Fasching, a fourth round pick of the Kings who came over in the Brayden McNabb trade played for the Gophers who won three of four games from Michigan who features one of last year’s second round picks, J.T. Compher. Fasching said, “It was already going this year.” The bitter rivals are roommates here in camp. Fasching said, “We’re roommates here so we’re always going at it.” Compher said, “I’d say we’re pretty good friends, we played a bunch together at the national program and when we do play at Minnesota, we are rivals and I like playing against him, but right now we’re on the same team and friends, but I guess rivals again tomorrow night.”
I wondered if since Fasching’s team went to the finals NCAA tournament, was he flaunting it? Compher said, “Oh yes, he had his Big 10 tee shirt in the room and I threw it on the ground and told him I didn’t want to see that out of his suitcase again.
The one thing that was very noticeable in camp was the edge displayed by Compher, Brendan Lemieux and Zadorov. They were hitting, hacking and just getting under players skin. Lemieux said he just doesn’t know any other way and Compher says the objective is to get the other team to hate you.
From a skill standpoint I felt I should get here and see Mikhail Grigorenko dominate and he didn’t disappoint. He made a few slick moves especially a one on one move to turn Brycen Martin inside out. He finished by scoring high on Cal Peterson. It’ll be interesting to see if he moves his good play forward into the scrimmage.
Tuesday camp will feature an evening scrimmage open to the public at 7:00. Reinhart can’t wait, “Yes, everyone’s excited for it. It’s been talked about quite a bit so we’re looking forward to it as it’s the one day of the week that everyone’s eager to get into, so I’ve been preparing for that for a little bit .”