Sabres Report: 2001 Training Camp Wrap-Up, Part III

By Ken McKenna

The Buffalo Sabres have whittled down their 2001 training camp roster, and are now preparing for their October 4th home opener vs. the Atlanta Thrashers. While there has been a profound change in the team with the departure of Dominik Hasek, the fact of the matter is that the personnel has changed very little from last season to the new season.

From the prospect ranks, one player has managed to make the team, while another could stick once he recovers from an injury. Right wing Norm Milley, a ’98 2nd round pick, showed great hustle and grit in both the camp scrimmages and preseason games. His dogged style of play made it impossible for Buffalo’s coaching staff to send Norm to Rochester, but it remains to be seen how much ice time Milley will see once they start playing the games for keeps.

The injured prospect is ’97 2nd rounder Henrik Tallinder. The big Swede defenseman had a very promising start to his camp, but suffered a knee injury on the 3rd day of camp. In spite of Tallinder’s short span of time on the ice, he was singled out by coach Lindy Ruff as a player who is definitely going to push for a spot on the roster. Ruff liked Henrik’s size, as well as his steady play in the defensive zone, while also pointing to Tallinder’s ability to make a good breakout pass.

Tallinder’s injury will keep him on the shelf for at least another week, but it’s uncertain what will be done with Henrik when he returns to the ice. Henrik signed a contract that would allow him to return to TPS Turku in Finland should he not make the Buffalo roster, but throwing him into NHL action without the benefit of preseason work might not be the best idea. Perhaps Tallinder would agree to a short conditioning stint in Rochester, but that is only speculation.

Two other youngsters who are new to the Buffalo roster are center Tim Connolly and left wing Taylor Pyatt. The two former Islanders made a very good impression during camp, with Connolly showing many of the skills that made him a high draft pick in ’99, and Pyatt making good use of his large frame.

Tim was unquestionably the best player during the camp scrimmages, as he led the tournament in scoring. Connolly continued to display in the preseason games the same nifty moves and deft passing skills that wowed camp observers. There is no question the Syracuse native will be an asset on Buffalo’s moribund power play unit, as his clever playmaking and passing should keep opponent’s honest. Goal scoring may never be Connolly’s strong suit, but he certainly has a solid enough shot to contribute his fair share of goals.

Pyatt, another ’99 1st round pick for the Isles, is not as gifted a player as Connolly, but he has the size (6’4", 220 lbs.) and speed to one day become a force on the left side. Taylor showed an ability to make plays during the preseason games, as he notched 3 assists in 5 games, but he appears to be lacking confidence when it comes to scoring goals. Taylor does have one thing that can’t be taught- size. This fact should go a long way toward keeping Pyatt on the roster, since Buffalo doesn’t really need him to be a scorer at this time.

With the signing of Erik Rasmussen, Buffalo will have to send one more player to Rochester before the start of the season. The popular theory is that Pyatt will be the one to take the ride down the I-90, but it is entirely possible that another player could be the one to go. The Sabres will have to make another decision like this soon should Henrik Tallinder stick with the Sabres, so there should be some nervous tension developing in the Buffalo locker room as the season draws closer.

2001 Preseason Statistics

Player

GP

G

A

Pts.

PIM

J.P Dumont

5

2

2

4

8

Chris Gratton

4

2

1

3

4

Stu Barnes

4

2

1

3

2

Miroslav Satan

5

1

2

3

0

Tim Connolly

6

1

2

3

6

Taylor Pyatt

5

0

3

3

2

Jason Woolley

4

1

1

2

4

Denis Hamel

4

1

1

2

0

Maxim Afinogenov

4

1

1

2

2

Vaclav Varada

5

1

1

2

4

Norm Milley

5

1

0

1

0

Slava Kozlov

5

1

0

1

12

Curtis Brown

5

0

1

1

0

Dimitri Kalinin

5

0

1

1

2

Jay McKee

5

0

1

1

5

Rhett Warrener

1

0

0

0

0

Jeremy Adduono

1

0

0

0

0

Christian Matte

2

0

0

0

0

Darren Van Oene

2

0

0

0

7

Francois Methot

2

0

0

0

2

Chris Taylor

2

0

0

0

2

Eric Boulton

3

0

0

0

2

James Patrick

3

0

0

0

6

Rory Fitzpatrick

3

0

0

0

0

Rob Ray

3

0

0

0

23

Richard Smehlik

4

0

0

0

6

Alexei Zhitnik

5

0

0

0

2

Brian Campbell

6

0

0

0

2

Goalie

GP

MIN

AVG

W

L

T

EN

SO

GA

SA

SV%

Mika Noronen

1

57

2.11

0

1

0

1

0

2

35

94.3

Martin Biron

3

178

2.36

1

2

0

0

0

7

65

89.2

Bob Essensa

2

119

2.52

1

1

0

0

0

5

41

87.8