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.
With three wins in three pre-season games, the Buffalo Sabres have won as many games as they did in the three previous pre-seasons combined. Granted, the caliber of competition consisted of two teams (Boston and Chicago x2) that will be going nowhere fast this season, but the wins have been impressive nonetheless because of the play of Buffalo’s young prospects.
The first game, a 5-3 victory over Boston, was a penalty-filled affair that saw several youngsters make the score sheet. Impressive newcomer J.P. Dumont scored a power play goal off an assist from Jeremy Adduono. Adduono and Dimitri Kalinin assisted on an Erik Rasmussen 2nd period power play goal, while Brian Campbell helped setup Doug Gilmour’s power play tally in the 3rd period. Eric Boulton, a brawler making a serious bid to land a spot on the Buffalo roster, provided some fisticuffs in a spirited 3rd period battle with Boston tough guy Ken Belanger. Boulton displayed more than just a good uppercut, however, as he has good speed and enough hockey sense to keep himself from being a liability when he is on the ice. In spite of Boulton’s inspired play, Dumont was probably the most effective prospect in this game, as he displayed the offensive instincts and skills that made him a top prospect in his draft year.