Thank goodness the exhibition season is over! At least, I’m sure that is what most Buffalo Sabre fans are thinking as they watched their favorite NHL team go 1-6 in pre-season play (2-6 if you count the win over the Austrian team).
While I’m sure many are heaving a sigh of relief at not having to endure another sloppy exhibition game, the bad news is the 98-99 season begins for the Sabres Saturday in Dallas. To say that this team does not even remotely resemble the team that made the final four last season would be an understatement. True, there are four players holding out, but this does not explain the sometimes-indifferent play by many of the players that were regulars last season. If the Sabres believe that they can flick a switch that will improve their play, then they could be in for a rude awakening in their first two contests in Dallas and Denver.
With regard to the Sabre prospects attempting to make the team, the main battle has been for the 7th defensive slot, i.e. the guy who will spend most of the season watching games from the press box. The top two contestants for this position are Jason Holland and Rumun Ndur, with Mike Hurlbut also receiving some consideration. To my eyes, Holland appears to be the more accomplished player, but he is not the physical presence that Ndur can be. The player that ultimately will win this position could be decided by what type of player the Sabres would like to have in reserve. Still, my feeling is that Ndur’s skills are not quite NHL caliber, and that Holland will prevail.
Each fall, in 27 cities scattered around North America, NHL veterans and hopefuls gather to compete for roster spots in NHL training camps. There is always a feeling of optimism surrounding training camp, which is seen as a new beginning by fans of the respective teams. Every team is a Stanley Cup contender, at least until real bullets are fired in early October, and reality sets in.
In the case of the Buffalo Sabres, a team coming off a final four appearance, there will be precious few roster spots available to young prospects looking to make a good impression. The majority of the prospects will have to ply their trade in the minors, juniors or Europe with an eye toward next year’s training camp.
Still, it is worth recapping the progress of the Sabres prospects, and pointing out some of the strong (and weak) performances displayed thus far in the ’98 training camp. Rookie Camp
Prior to training camp proper, the Sabres first and second-year players took part in a rookie tournament in Kitchener, ON with rookies from the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs and Carolina Hurricanes. The Sabres compiled a 1-2 record in the tourney, defeating the Maple Leafs 2-1, but losing to the Habs 2-1 and the Hurricanes 4-2.
The Lindros family is whining about Eric’s contract, while Dominik Hasek wrapped his sports car around an elm tree, so that can mean only one thing: NHL training camps will soon be opening!
The Buffalo Sabres will begin their formal training camp in Austria on 9/13, with select rookies and prospects travelling to Kitchener, ON for a rookie camp prior to the trip to Austria. With the opening of camp only days away, I thought it would be a good time to offer up my thoughts on the players I consider to be the top 10 prospects in the Sabre organization.
Before listing these 10 players, these are the criteria I used to decide what qualifies a player for prospect status (as opposed to veteran or has-been): · the player must have played in less than 82 NHL games, i.e. a full seasons’ worth of games · the player must be 23 or younger With regard to the game requirement, I came to the conclusion that the vast majority of drafted players that make it to the NHL complete 82 NHL games somewhere between 2-4 years after being drafted. This would put most prospects in the 22-23-age range, which is where my age criteria come into play. Basically, if a player hasn’t had much NHL experience by the time he reaches the age of 23, his chances of making it in the NHL are not very good. There are exceptions, of course, but generally speaking the rule of 23 holds true in most cases.
As of Mid-January 1998, here is my current feeling as to the Sabres top
Rank Player Ht. Wt. Age Location (league) +/- from Dec.
1. Erik Rasmussen 6-2 207 21 Rochester (AHL) new
2. Cory Sarich 6-3 182 19 Saskatoon (WHL) -1
3. Mika Norinen 6-1 191 18 Tappara (Finland) new
4. Alexei Tezikov 6-1 198 19 Moncton (QMJHL) -2
5. Maxim Afinogenov 5-11 176 18 Moscow Dynamo (Russia) -2
6. Darren Van Oene 6-3 207 19 Brandon (WHL) ---
7. Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre 6-3 207 20 Rochester (AHL) ---
8. Vaclav Varada 6-0 200 21 Rochester (AHL) -3
9. Luc Theoret 6-2 197 18 Lethbridge (WHL) +3
10. Scott Nichol 5-8 160 22 Rochester (AHL) ---
11. Jeff Martin 6-2 177 18 Windsor (OHL) +5
12. Kamil Piros 6-1 186 18 Litinov (Czech Rep.) new
13. Torrey Diroberto 6-0 186 19 Seattle (WHL) new
14. Jeremy Addouno 5-11 182 18 Sudbury (OHL) -1
15. Henrik Tallinder 6-3 196 18 AIK (Sweden) new
16. Sergei Klimentiev 5-11 200 22 Rochester (AHL) -1
17. Francois Methot 6-0 175 20 Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL) -3 Read more»
Today we will wrap things up by looking at Buffalo’s prospects at the center
Star rating read as follows:
5 stars = Superstar potential
4 stars = A First Rate NHL player. Above average player
3 stars = Good NHL future. An average NHL player.
2 stars = Good minor league player. A below average NHL player.
1 star = Career minor leaguer. Emergency NHL help.
Torrey DiRoberto 5-11 180 19 Seattle (WHL) 2 ½ stars
Acquire: 1997 5th round Draft pick, 128th overall
Stats look: as of 1/15/98
15gm 7g 6a 13 pts +2 17 pim
Torrey was drafted last year as a 19-year-old. He is like Brian
Holzinger, similar size, skill and speed. Though perhaps a better
The 97-98 season has proven a difficult one for Torrey. First, he was injured
during last season playoff run. The result was shoulder surgery, which the
Sabres medical team recommended. This kept him out of the Sabres training
camp, plus most of the first three months of the WHL season. He only began to
play in late November. Being out for so long more than likely destroyed his Read more»