Marcus Foligno will make his NHL debut tonight vs. the Hurricanes
The Sabres kicked off their 2011-2012 training camp Friday, with rookies reporting at 8am. There is an extensive amount of buzz surrounding this years camp, as many Buffalonians are excited to see not only the veterans like Pominville, coming off a season ending leg injury, Roy, also coming off a major injury last season, and Vanek, but also newcomers like Ville Leino, Christian Ehrhoff and Robyn Regher, all acquired in the offseason in a very uncharacteristic manner (in terms of past Sabres teams/management).
Also a topic of interest is the rookies coming into camp this year. The team’s rookies played (and won) the Traverse City Prospect Tournament last week. This was their first appearance in the tournament, which is hosted by the Detroit Red Wings, and their domination of the tournament became evident as the top line of Marcus Foligno, Luke Adam and Zack Kassian continued to mow over the competition. In the championship game, Foligno scored twice, Adam scored once and Kassian played set-up man, needless to say they were a force to be reckoned with (a very exciting thing indeed).
Coming into camp, there is a logjam at defense, a rather welcomed issue I suppose. As of now, there are 8 defensemen on the roster (Gragnani, Leopold, Myers, Regher, Ehrhoff, Weber, Sekera, and Morrisonn) all vying for the 6 starting spots, so who goes? The way I look at it right now, there is really only one opening on the defense. Myers is clearly not going anywhere after signing a 7 year contract extension last week. Regher, Ehrhoff and Leopold are the veteran presence and will act as mentor’s for the fairly young defense corps. I would argue after his performance in the playoffs and the end of last season Gragnani has all but locked up a spot on the third pairing. That leaves Weber, Morrisonn and Sekera in a battle for the final spot (fingers crossed for Mike Weber!).
Maybe you caught the little tidbit of info in the last paragraph about a certain gargantuan defense man signing a certain gargantuan contract. Well in case you didn’t, Tyler Myers signed a 7 year contract extension last week. Now that I am done jumping for joy, allow me to recap a conversation my friend TJ and I had last week:
TJ – “So the Sabres signed Myers for 7 years, before his rookie contract is even expired.”
Kelsey – <jumps around and squeals like a small child>
TJ – “Is it bad that I don’t even care what the terms were?”
Kelsey – <still jumping around squealing like a small child> “Not at all, they could have given him $100 million next year and I would say best signing ever!”
Basically, this is new territory for us Sabres fans, we are much more used to watching our talent walk away for nothing, like Chris Drury, Danny Briere, and Brian Campbell (yes, I know we got Steve Bernier and a pick (Tyler Ennis), but does he really count and at the time it seemed like nothing).
Some other big new coming out of this weekend was the announcement of the addition of Teppo Numminen to the coaching staff. According to a quote from sabres.nhl.com:
“He’s going to be the guy upstairs on the headset,” Ruff said. “In the past we’ve had various people fill that role and now we’re going to have a full-time assistant do it. His role is going to be helping out on the player development side with the younger defensemen. James’ role has elevated during games so he’s going to give us a little bit of a European flair.”
One final note: the renovations on the arena (locker room included) are nearly complete! Stay tuned tonight for some picture which I will happily provide. Now for the first time this season, “LET’S GO BUFFALO!”