Needing to add a few bodies to a depleted list of defensive prospects, the Buffalo Sabres looked west to Portland of the WHL, tabbing smooth-skating Michael Funk as their second round pick in the 2004 draft. After spending the previous season playing AAA Bantam for his hometown organization in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Funk arrived on the WHL scene in 2002-03 as a tall, lanky 16-year-old. With a full cast of defenseman returning to the Winter Hawks, Funk made enough waves in training camp to earn a spot on the team’s opening night roster. Displaying great instincts and overall hockey sense en route to 16 point campaign, Funk was named Portland’s Rookie of the Year following the season. His play would also earn him a spot at Team Canada’s National Under-18 Development and Selection Camp the following August, where he made the cut and participated in the tourney held in Minsk, Belarus.
Looking to further make a name for himself in a league full of capable defensemen, Funk and his long stick returned to Portland for the 2003-04 season with raised expectations. Being paired with stud NHL prospect Braydon Coburn for much of the season, Funk upped his offensive production and won a place on Team Orr for the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game held in London, Ontario in January, 2004. Throughout the season, Funk manned the left point on the ‘Hawks power play, and was a key component on the penalty killing unit.
Following his selection by Buffalo, the rearguard embarked on a diligent strength and conditioning program, hoping to increase his playing weight to 220-225 pounds in an effort to overcome the shortcomings associated with the physical aspect of his game.
2nd round (43rd overall), 2004
2005-06: Funk finished the season with 47 points and ranked eighth in scoring among WHL defensemen. This would also mark his final season in the WHL, where he totaled 121 points in his career with the Portland Winter Hawks.
2006-07: Funk appeared in 61 games for Rochester (AHL). Nov. 18 marked his NHL debut as Buffalo faced Ottawa. He had an assist vs. Tampa Bay on Nov. 20 and another against Toronto on the 22. He returned to Rochester on Nov. 23 and went on a four game point streak from Dec. 23 to 30.
2007-08: Funk played in 58 games for Rochester (AHL) and was recalled for four games in Buffalo, spanning Mar. 14 through 21. A separated shoulder sidelined the towering blueliner from Jan. 26 to Feb. 6, adding up to just four games. Another injury forced Funk to sit from Nov. 2 to Nov. 23.
Talent AnalysisFunk is considered a finesse defender, and his game is based on his solid skating ability. He has a long, fluid stride that gives him above average speed, along with a knack for ducking opposing checkers. He exhibits an accurate shot from the point, and passes the puck extremely well. A sound positional defender, he often uses his reach to poke check and pressure opponents. Funk has been criticized for shrinking from the spotlight and failing to better utilize his excellent size.