Sabres Prospect Challenge Wrap Up

The third annual prospects challenge is in the books and there’s one interesting storyline related to some of the older Sabres prospects developing. Who’s going to make the team out of camp? In this piece, I’ll run down that question as well as get into some of the standouts from the tournament.

Game 1
FINAL: BUF 3 NJD 4 OT
SHOTS: BUF 28 NJD 30
POWER PLAY: BUF 0/6 NJD 0/3

Goals:
NJD: 
Kujawinski from Studenic
BUF: Pu from Glotov
NJD: Kujawinski from Studenic and Jacobs
BUF: Blackwell from Fasching and Smith
BUF: Blackwell from Muzito-Bagenda and Karabacek
NJD: Kujawinski from Butcher and Cangelosi
NJD: Kapla from Bratt

Game 2
FINAL: BUF 7 BOS 4 
SHOTS: BUF 26 BOS 39
POWER PLAY: BUF 4/8 BOS 1/3

GOALS: 
BUF: Fasching from Smith and Guhle
BOS: Hickman from Clifton and Koppanen
BUF: Guhle from Smith
BOS: Kuraly (unassisted)
BUF: Bailey from Pu
BOS: Fitzgerald from Studnicka and Zboril
BUF: Baptiste from Blackwell and Glotov
BUF: Smith from Pu and Baptiste
BUF: Karabacek from Glotov and Fasching
BOS: Bjork from Forsbacka-Karlsson and McAvoy
BUF: Fasching from Guhle

Game 3
FINAL: BUF 3 PIT 5
SHOTS: BUF 26 PIT 50
POWER PLAY: BUF 3/3 PIT 1/7

GOALS:
BUF: Guhle from Pu and Smith
PIT: Di Pauli from Lauzon and Tiffels
PIT: Aston-Reese from Zink and Johnson
BUF: Bailey from Guhle
PIT: Bengtsson from Bellerive
BUF: Smith from Guhle and Bailey
PIT: Drozg from Miltec and Lauzon
PIT: Aston-Reese from Blueger and Bellerive

The 4 Standouts:

C.J. Smith

C.J. Smith is a name that isn’t mentioned enough in the conversation when fans are talking about potential players who may be able to play on the Sabres roster this season. Smith didn’t look out of place whatsoever in his short stint with the Sabres at the end of last season. Smith showcased his speed and shot throughout the 3 games and most likely opened the eyes of many fans. Don’t write off the possibility of Smith making the Sabres out of camp.

Colin Blackwell

Blackwell had a surprisingly good tournament for an invited player. He was San Jose’s 7th round pick in the 2011 NHL Draft and played four seasons with Harvard. Blackwell notched 3 points in 3 games and even earned a shot to compete for a roster spot in Rochester as he wasn’t released from his ATO. If Blackwell can continue to play like he did at the Prospects Challenge, I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t make Rochester out of training camp.

 

Justin Bailey

It has now been 5 years since Justin Bailey has joined the Sabres organization and I’ve noticed an improvement in his game year after year. Bailey has gotten stronger over the course of the summer, I can envision Bailey flourishing in Phil Housley’s system with his explosive skating. Right now it’s do or die for Justin Bailey. This is the year that he has to make the team and contribute or else he may never get another opportunity to crack the roster again. There’s an opportunity for 1 or 2 players from Rochester to make the team out of camp and I believe that Justin Bailey may do just that. I was on the fence on if Bailey could make the team a couple weeks ago but after watching him at the Prospects Challenge where he looked like a man amongst boys, I think he’ll claim the roster spot this season. Now it’s a matter of if he’ll be able to score at the NHL level.

Brendan Guhle

Guhle was by far the most impressive Sabres prospect at this tournament. He showed that he has the potential to be a great power play quarterback for the Sabres for many years to come with his vision, passing ability, skating, and point shot. Many fans are very eager to see Guhle in the Sabres lineup this season but with Jason Botterill completely overhauling the defense, it may be difficult for Guhle to crack the opening night roster. There’s no doubt in my mind that he’ll be the first call-up in the case of an injury to the defense. And let’s be honest here, it’s probably best for Guhle’s development if he’s getting 20+ minutes a night in Rochester rather than being on the 3rd pair or a healthy scratch in Buffalo. Guhle will get games in Buffalo this year and I can assure you that. The only instance where I can envision Guhle making the team out of camp would be if Victor Antipin is just terrible in training camp and goes back to Russia. I don’t think that’s a very likely scenario so prepare for Guhle playing a significant time in Rochester this season.

Thanks for reading. You can follow me on Twitter @JoeSFNHL and you can also follow Sabres Fanatics on both Twitter and Instagram @SabresFanatics

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