Sabres' Blue & Gold Scrimmage Preview

Tonight at First Niagara Center the Buffalo Sabres Development Camp will feature its’ annual prospect’s scrimmage. With the attendance anticipated to reach 15,000, it is apparent that Sabres’ fans are excited for the next chapter of the franchise to begin. So without further ado, let’s go over three headlines to watch for in tonight’s Blue & Gold Scrimmage.

1.) Eichel vs. Reinhart

The obvious storyline tonight is Jack Eichel. The city has been buzzing about this kid for months and tonight will be a first look at Eichel competing as a member of the Buffalo Sabres organization.

With all the Eichel hype, last year’s number two overall pick has been left in the shadows, but don’t forget about Sam Reinhart. Last season, Tim Murray instructed Reinhart to go back to juniors and work his butt off in the gym to get stronger. Reinhart took Murray’s instructions seriously and showed substantial improvements in his strength testing back in Buffalo following his season.

Reinhart was a top performer for Team Canada last winter at the World Junior Championships and Murray has publically stated he expects Reinhart to make the NHL roster out of training camp. When Reinhart met with the media this week, he expressed that he is much more confident in himself this year.

 Sam Reinhart will try to make the NHL roster this fall.  Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

Sam Reinhart will try to make the NHL roster this fall. Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

Eichel and Reinhart were roommates for camp this week, but will be competing on opposite squads at First Niagara Center tonight.

2.) Who else will impress us?

Aside from Reinhart and Eichel, the rest of the prospects will attempt to leave an impression at tonight’s scrimmage, but who will succeed in turning heads? Three forwards who will be call-up options for the Sabres this season include Nicholas Baptiste, Evan Rodrigues, and Justin Bailey. Baptiste has been a goal scorer in the OHL the past two seasons, and will play on Eichel’s wing tonight. Also joining that line will be Eichel’s BU teammate Evan Rodrigues, a smart winger who was signed as an UDFA this spring. Justin Bailey, the local kid, projects to be a top-six forward for Rochester this year.  

On defense, Jake McCabe is the veteran of the group and is competing for an opening night roster spot this fall. Two other defensemen to watch out for are Brendan Guhle and Anthony Florentino. Guhle, this year’s 2nd round pick, is a strong skater while Florentino plays with a bit of a mean streak. The two will be paired up tonight.

Some other players to keep an eye on include Hudson Fasching, a physical forward from the University of Minnesota, and William Carrier, who was acquired from the St. Louis Blues in the Ryan Miller trade. Both will skate with Sam Reinhart tonight.

 Hudson Fasching looks to take advantage of playing on a line with Sam Reinhart.  Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

Hudson Fasching looks to take advantage of playing on a line with Sam Reinhart. Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

My personal sleeper to keep an eye on is Vaclav Karabacek, the Czech forward was a second round pick in 2014 and has a strong skill set.

3.) Goaltenders

Even with the Robin Lehner acquisition goaltending is still a question mark within the franchise. In terms of prospects, it is a wide open competition to move up the organization’s depth chart. Tonight’s expected starters are Cal Petersen and Jason Kasdorf. Petersen is coming off a promising freshmen year at Notre Dame, while Kasdorf, considered a ‘thrown in’ in the Evander Kane trade with Winnipeg, has been impressive at camp this week. Both have the opportunity to continue to impress tonight.

 Cal Petersen's gold mask makes him easy to spot.  photo via Matt Dewkett

Cal Petersen's gold mask makes him easy to spot. photo via Matt Dewkett

Other netminders who will see action tonight include Russian Andrey Makarov, who played with Rochester last year, and big Swede Jonas Johansson, the 61st overall pick in the 2014 draft.

Tonight will be an exciting time as the next chapter in Buffalo Sabres history begins. The Herd Report will providing live twitter updates from the press box tonight as well as post-game coverage.