Buffalo sports fans can attest to the agony of having one of their teams’ make it to the championship round in consecutive years, only to end up the loser, as the Buffalo Bills did in the early 90’s. Rochester has experienced this feeling the last two years, as they watched their Rochester Americans lose twice in the Calder Cup finals. The hope was that the 2000-01 edition of the Amerks could at last finish the job, but early returns suggest that this team may not be up to the task.
It is probably no surprise that the Amerks have struggled this season, as they are missing the likes of J.P. Dumont, Maxim Afinogenov, Dimitri Kalinin and Denis Hamel, all players currently with the Buffalo Sabres who were involved in last year’s run to the AHL finals. In addition, offensive star Domenic Pittis has moved on to the Edmonton organization, which has further depleted Rochester’s firepower. In addition to the loss of some highly skilled players, the Amerks 99-00 MVP, goaltender Mika Noronen, has been just average so far this year.
The talent drain shows in Rochester’s current team statistics, as they are currently 3rd in the AHL’s Mid-Atlantic division, and 12th overall. The Amerks power play is ranked 13th (out of 20 teams), while their penalty killing unit is 14th in the AHL. Offensively, Rochester is tied for 12th overall in goals scored, which is a further indication of the erosion of talent.
The main focus of this article will be to update the play of some of Buffalo’s leg Read more»
The Canadian Hockey League, which consists of the Ontario, Western and Quebec leagues, is still the predominate supplier of
talent to the NHL. The Buffalo Sabres have in recent seasons taken full advantage of the talent supply available in the CHL by
drafting players such as Curtis Brown, Jay McKee, Brian Campbell and Martin Biron, to name a few.
While some of Buffalo’s best junior talent has graduated to the pros, it does not mean that the talent pool has gone dry. The
Sabres, in fact, have a handful of average-to-above-average prospects currently playing in the three leagues, with the WHL
housing some of the more promising youngsters.
With the CHL now in full swing, this article represents the first of periodic (“periodic” being defined as when I feel like writing
them) articles updating the play of Buffalo’s junior contingent. I’ll highlight the hot Buffalo prospect in each league, as well as
point out the player(s) not living up to expectations, however low those expectations might be. In addition, I’ll make brief
mentions of some of the other junior prospects whose performances fall in between the “hot” and “not” categories.
Western Hockey League
HOT! Barrett Heisten of the Seattle Thunderbirds, who is so far succeeding in his quest to land a fat free agent contract. Heisten
has picked up 15 points (3G, 12A) in just 8 games, a pace that, were he to keep it up throughout the season, would put him
amongst the top scorers in t Read more»
It is common knowledge amongst Buffalo Sabres’ fans that Buffalo maintains their main minor league affiliate in Rochester, NY. A quick perusal of Buffalo’s training camp roster, however, might give one the impression that the Sabres have added a 2nd farm team in the Great Northwest Mecca of Seattle, WA.
The roster of the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL currently sports the names of six players who attended the 2000 training camp of the Buffalo Sabres. Four of the players- LW Barrett Heisten, RW Bret Dececco, LW Tim Preston and D Gerard Dicaire –are Sabre draftees, while defensemen Brennan Evans and Jeff Beatch attended camp as free agent invitees.
The most celebrated of the six players is, of course, ’99 1st round pick Barrett Heisten. Barrett joined the T-Birds following an unsuccessful attempt to negotiate a contract with Buffalo, a turn of events that no doubt made many Seattle fans quite happy. Barrett did not disappoint in his first game as a T-Bird, as he picked up four assists in a 6-5 victory over the Kelowna Rockets.
The fantasy league that is the NHL’s 2000 preseason has come to an end, with the Buffalo Sabres sporting a very impressive 7-1-0 record. Winning records in the preseason aren’t necessarily the stuff of legends, but even the most jaded Sabres fan has to go into the regular season feeling that Buffalo will be an improved team in 2000-01.
The major reason for the feeling of optimism is the play of some of the younger prospects in the organization, particularly that of Jean-Pierre Dumont, Dimitri Kalinin and Mika Noronen. These 3 youngsters all played a major role in crafting Buffalo’s winning preseason record, as they displayed the skills and maturity of veteran NHL performers. They, along with Denis Hamel, Eric Boulton and Jason Holland, made the final cutdown to 23 players, with Dumont, Kalinin, Boulton and Noronen almost certain to be in the opening night lineup vs. Chicago.
Another young prospect, Brian Campbell, appeared to shake off his forgettable performance of last season by displaying the considerable offensive skills that had been his bread-and-butter during his junior career. Brian was returned to Rochester for the start of the 2000-01 season, but he is certain to be the first call-up should an injury be suffered in the defensive ranks.
The Buffalo Sabres continued their exhibition slate with back-to-back games against the expansion Columbus Blue Jackets. The Sabres should be excused if they felt that their opponent seemed a little familiar, as Columbus had a total of seven former Sabres prospects/players on their training camp roster.
Those former Sabres still fighting for Columbus roster spots include D Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre, RW Matt Davidson, LW Geoff Sanderson, LW Barrie Moore and RW Martin Spahnel. Two former Buffalo prospects, C Brad Moran and D Sergei Klimentiev, were assigned to the Syracuse Crunch this past week. Sanderson and Grand-Pierre are probably locks to make the Blue Jacket roster, while Davidson, Moore and Spahnel are still in the thick of the roster battle with several other players.