Sabres NCAA prospects update

By Stuart McDonald

Alex Biega, D – Freshman
Born: 04/04/1988, Montreal, PQ
Drafted: 2006 (5th round, 147th overall)  

Alex Biega leads Harvard Crimson defensemen in scoring with six goals and 11 assists in 27 games. The 5’10 Montreal native is fifth in scoring among ECAC defensemen and is first among ECAC freshmen defensemen.  Biega, an extremely fast skater, has three power-play goals.

The 2006 mid-round pick is off to a great start, coming from the Salisbury School where he led the team to the New England Prep title in 2006, winning team MVP in the process. 

Chris Butler, D – Sophomore
Born: 10/27/1986, St. Louis, MO
Drafted: 2005 (4th round, 96th overall)

Chris Butler has improved his numbers a bit over last year going from 22 points in 35 games for the 2005-06 season to nine goals and 24 points in 33 games so far in the 2006-07 season for the Denver Pioneers. Butler’s 24 points are fourth among WCHA defensemen and second among WCHA sophomore defensemen. He’s the fifth leading scorer on the team and has twice as many points as the second Pioneer defenseman.

Butler hopes to follow in the footsteps of Matt Carle, a Pioneer defenseman he played with in the 2005-06 season who is now a rising star for the San Jose Sharks.  Butler is seeing plenty of ice time, including time on the team’s No. 1 power-play unit.

There are few obvious weaknesses in Butler’s game as he is a solid 6’1 and 190 pounds and can clearly score at the collegiate level.

Nathan Gerbe, C – Sophomore
Born: 7/24/1987, Oxford, MI
Drafted: 2005 (5th round, 142nd overall)         

Nathan Gerbe, a gifted penalty killer, is tied for the lead in the NCAA in short-handed goals with four in his 28 games so far in the 2006-07 season. Gerbe leads the Boston College Eagles in goals and game-winning goals with 17 and five respectively in 29 games, playing on the top line. Gerbe’s stature at 5’5, 160 pounds doesn’t prevent him from playing an aggressive game as he consistently racks up penalty minutes. He had 67 PIMs in 37 games in 2005-06 and has the Eagles’ second most PIMs in 2006-07 with 58.  

In January of this year, Gerbe helped Team USA capture the bronze medal in the WJCs in Sweden. Gerbe led all American forwards in assists, scoring six in seven games and finished tied for 12th overall in tournament scoring. His six points are a considerable improvement over last year’s WJC when he was held pointless in seven games. 

Gerbe’s NCAA totals have improved considerably from his freshman year. He scored 10 goals and 17 points in 37 NCAA games in 2005-06, but a year later he has 16 goals and nine assists in 28 games. Since the Eagles’ third game, the quick and talented Gerbe has not gone two games without a point or over three games without a goal.

Tim Kennedy, W – Sophomore
Born: 04/30/1986, Buffalo, NY
Drafted: 2005 (6th round, 181st overall by Washington)  

Michigan State sophomore winger Tim Kennedy is progressing nicely in the CCHA after struggling with a hand injury last year. The 5’10, 180-pound playmaker is 14th in 2006-07 CCHA scoring with 13 goals and 19 assists in 32 games. That’s a significant improvement from his 2005-06 season when he scored 19 points in 29 games.

Kennedy is third among sophomore scorers in the CCHA and carries the load as the Spartans scoring leader, playing on a line with Justin Abdelkader (DET) and Tim Crowder (PIT).

Despite his small frame, Kennedy is not shy on the ice and has the fourth most PIMs on the Spartans with 37. He’s consistently racked up penalty minutes throughout his career.

Matt Generous, D – Sophomore
Born: 5/4/1985, Methuen, MA
Drafted: 2005 (7th round, 208th overall)      

Aside from packing another 10 pounds onto frame, defenseman Matt Generous hasn’t improved his numbers this year. The sophomore St. Lawrence Saint has four goals and 11 points in 30 games so far in 2006-07 after making the ECAC All-Rookie Team and scoring four goals and 15 points in 30 games last year.

At 6’3, 205 pounds, Generous has NHL size but doesn’t project as carrying any offense into pro hockey.

Andrew Orpik, RW – Sophomore
Born: 3/12/1986, East Amherst, NY
Drafted: 2005 (7th round, 227th overall) 

Boston College sophomore winger Andrew Orpik started the 2006-07 season with a bang, scoring two goals and two assists in his first six games. It’s been a tougher haul from there for the younger brother of Pittsburgh Penguin Brooks Orpik. Andrew didn’t score a point for 11 games, and then endured a nine-game point drought after that. His two goals and seven points in 25 games in 2006-07, playing mostly on a line with freshmen Matt Price and Ben Smith, is not a big improvement on his 2005-06 total of three goals and seven points in 38 games.

At 6’3, 210 pounds, Orpik has size and a propensity to hit. Because he was a defenseman for most of his high school hockey, Orpik will be given some time to adapt to his new position.  He is seeing some time on the power play.    

Thomas Morrow, D – Senior
Born: 10/21/1983, St. Paul, MN
Drafted: 2003 (5th Round, 150th overall)          

Tom Morrow, a senior defenseman for the Boston University Terriers, has one goal and two assists in 26 games in the 2006-07 season.

The 6’7, 213-pound, stay-at-home defenseman has an impressive plus/minus at +10, given his lack of scoring.  He suffered a high ankle sprain against Merrimack on Jan. 19 and returned on Feb. 5 for the Beanpot Tournament.

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