Sabres CHL prospects 2008-09 review

By James Schwegler

Buffalo has 10 prospects wrapping up their CHL seasons.  Paul Byron and Tyler Ennis are elite scorers, while Tyler Myers and T.J. Brennan exert their wills on defense.  Myers in particular took a big step forward by adding muscle and grit to his smooth skating, lanky frame.  Other prospects like Luke Adam, Jacob Lagace, and Drew Scheistel had very solid seasons, and with continued progression should ultimately become NHL players. 

Forwards


Luke Adam, C (QMJHL – Montreal Junior)

6’2, 203 lbs. / Age: 18 (June 18, 1990)
Acquired: 2008 Draft – Round 2, 44th overall

Adam had a solid, if unspectacular, season for Montreal.  He played his role as a big body in front of the net, scoring seven power-play goals (22 overall) to go with 27 assists in 47 games.  He continued to show a willingness to mix it up, earning 59 penalty minutes, and ended the season with a -8 rating, the second worst on the team.  For a player who already has soft hands and an NHL physique, Adam can be a valuable player if he can continue to improve his skating and awareness on defense.  Turning 19 in June, time is on his side. 

Jacob Lagace, LW (QMJHL – Chicoutimi Sagueneens)

5’11, 190 lbs. / Age: 19 (Jan. 9, 1990)
Acquired – 2008 Draft – Round 5, 134th overall

Lagace found himself on a hot streak this season in which he scored a goal in six straight games.  Overall he had a nice, well-rounded season, with 69 points (32 goals, 37 assists), 52 penalty minutes, and a +2 rating in 64 games.  He was also a key special teams contributor, with eight of his goals coming on the power play and five coming while shorthanded.  With his knack for special teams and opportunistic scoring, Lagace is shaping up to be a late-round find. 

Tyler Ennis, C (WHL – Medicine Hat Tigers)

5’9, 164 lbs. / Age: 19 (Oct. 6, 1989)
Acquired: 2008 Draft – Round 1, 26th overall

Ennis was the 10th leading scorer in the WHL this season.  He finished with 43 goals and 42 assists in 61 games, including 13 power-play goals and two shorthanded tallies.  He also added 21 PIM and a +11 rating for the year.  He had a very good offensive season across the board, and closed on a strong note, with 19 goals and 14 assists in the last 20 games of the season.  Included in that stretch run are nights in which he tallied four (2/21 vs. Lethbridge) and six (2/27 vs. Prince Albert) goals. In mid-February, the playmaking center had an assist in six consecutive games.  With the regular season in the books, Ennis is right on track in his development towards being a top-line forward. 

Jean-Simon Allard, C (QMJHL – Quebec Remparts)

6’2, 185 lbs. / Age: 19 (May 24, 1989)
Acquired: 2007 Draft – Round 5, 147th overall

Allard brings good size, strength, and vision to the ice.  In 66 games with Quebec, he scored 16 goals (2 on the power play), with 40 assists, 22 penalty minutes, and a +25 rating.  He still looks to pass first, and is a responsible player in both ends of the rink.  With his good skating and offensive awareness, Allard can be an effective role player. 

Paul Byron, C (QMJHL – Gatineau Olympiques)

5’9, 170 lbs. / Age: 19 (April 27, 1989)
Acquired: 2007 Draft – Round 6, 179th overall

Byron set a torrid pace this season.  The speedy forward finished as the fourth-leading scorer in the QMJHL.  In 64 games, he totaled 33 goals (12 on the power play, two shorthanded) and 66 assists.  He finished with a +28 rating, and also had 32 penalty minutes.  During this dynamic season, he ran off a couple notable feats.  Byron had seven points in one game, scoring four goals and three assists in an early January game against Drummondville.  He also went 19 games in a row with at least one point, scoring 10 goals and 26 assists during that span. 

With the playoffs getting under way, Gatineau is positioned as a dangerous team due in large part to Byron’s playmaking ability.  After leading the QMJHL in playoff scoring last season, he is poised for another outstanding performance this spring. 

Defense


Jordon Southorn, D (QMJHL – Prince Edward Island Rocket)

6’3, 181 lbs. / Age: 18 (May 15, 1990)
Acquired: 2008 Draft – Round 4, 104th overall

In 64 games with the PEI Rocket, Southorn had six goals, 35 assists, 71 penalty minutes, and a -13 rating.  He can cover the ice quickly with his size and skating ability.  As a player who struggled with inconsistency in the past, Southorn took a step forward this season.  He played well down the stretch, with six points in the final 10 games of the season. 

Nick Crawford, D (OHL – Saginaw Spirit)

6’1, 183 lbs. / Age: 19 (Feb. 23, 1990)
Acquired: 2008 Draft – Round 6, 164th overall

Crawford scored seven goals and 35 assists in 65 games with the Saginaw Spirit.  He also ended the season with 41 penalty minutes and a +6 rating.  Crawford served as an assistant captain this season.  He had his best offensive month in February, with three goals (two on the power play) and six assists in 10 games.  While he was a valuable part of the Saginaw team, Crawford remains a mediocre NHL prospect. 

Tyler Myers, D (WHL – Kelowna Rockets)
6’6, 211 lbs. / Age: 19 (Feb. 1, 1990)
Acquired: 2008 Draft – Round 1, 13th overall

Myers had the type of season expected of someone drafted 13th overall last June.  He packed about 10 lbs. of muscle onto his 6’6 frame and added more of an intimidating physical element to his game this season, racking up 105 penalty minutes in the process.  In 58 games with the Kelowna Rockets, he contributed 42 points (9 goals, 33 assists) and had a +31 rating.  Myers was a strong presence for Team Canada’s 2009 gold medal World Junior team.  For a player that has always had the frame and skating ability to be a factor, his progress this year has Myers poised to make the NHL next season. 

T.J. Brennan, D (QMJHL – Montreal Junior)

6’0, 205 lbs. / Age: 19 (April 3, 1989)
Acquired: 2007 Draft – Round 2, 31st overall

Brennan has been a top-pairing guy for Montreal this season, and continues to bring physical play and crisp passing to the ice.  In 59 games, he scored five goals and 29 assists, with 63 penalty minutes and a -1 rating.  With another very good season in the books, there’s not much else for Brennan to accomplish in the QMJHL.  He’ll be one of the players to watch in Buffalo camp this fall, and will have a reasonable chance to make the roster out of camp. 

Drew Schiestel, D (OHL – Niagara IceDogs)

6’2, 193 lbs. / Age: 20 (March 9, 1989)
Acquired: 2007 Draft – Round 2, 59th overall

Schiestel narrowly missed the Buffalo Top 20 in HF’s most recent rankings, but is a quality prospect nonetheless.  He has had a strong offensive season from the Niagara IceDogs blueline, with 10 goals and 38 assists in 63 games.  Schiestel was the 11th leading scorer among OHL defensemen.  He ended the season with 75 penalty minutes and a -29 rating. 

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