In the sixth round of the 2013 NHL Draft the Buffalo Sabres selected hometown kid Sean Malone, five years later Malone is carving his path to the NHL with the Rochester Americans.
Malone could be considered a late bloomer. At every level of hockey he has played he has taken time to develop into an impact player.
In high school, while attending Nichols in 2010-11 Malone scored 12 points in 14 games for their CISAA team before erupting for 70 points in 32 games the next year in USHS action.
After high school he spent a year in the USHL and USNTDP before making the jump to Harvard in the NCAA. At Harvard, it took Malone some time to get adjusted to the NCAA game, but once he did his play took off.
Through his first three seasons Malone posted 57 points in 79 games, and worked to find his game.
In his senior year, Malone took his game to another level, both statistically and intangibly.
On the scoresheet, Malone tallied 18 goals and 24 assists in 36 games, but it was his maturity and work ethic that really made Malone a standout at Harvard.
His impressive senior season put him on the Sabres’ radar, as soon as his season ended the Sabres signed Malone to his entry-level contract and Malone appeared in one game for Buffalo.
This year, his first pro season Malone is out to prove that he has what it takes to be an NHL player. He has battled adversity but he has pushed through and is beginning to make an impact for the Amerks.
@LetsGoAmerks said, “he sat out the first three games of the season due to an abundance of players but hasn’t missed a game since.”
While his numbers aren’t impressive, nine goals and nine assists in 61 games, they don’t tell the whole story. Malone has consistently improved as the season has gone along and he is a regular player in the Amerks lineup.
“Malone has worked his way up the lineup from limited playing time to a player that is on the penalty kill, relied on for crucial face offs and put out on the ice in the final moments of a game to shut down the other team,” said @LetsGoAmerks
For the most part Malone has been playing with Bailey and Nylander, and due to their inconsistency Malone’s production may have been hindered, according to @LetsGoAmerks.
But “he’s remained consistent, competitive and proven himself to the coaching staff. He’s a confident player and as a rookie he’s gone out and backed that confidence up with his on-ice performance.”
When asked if Malone has the potential to be an NHLer @LetsGoAmerks said “absolutely.”
“In his rookie season he’s earned the trust of his teammates and coaching staff., he’s excellent at faceoffs, penalty kills, blocking shots and scoring those dirty goals, he is reliable and hard working.”
He may not be a flashy player but Malone can be played in any situation, and consistently gives his best effort. The Sabres are desperate for a player like Malone, he may only be a depth player but his competitiveness and skillset make him an upgrade over the likes of Larsson and Nolan.
Malone’s development should be something for fans to keep an eye on, as the Amerks make their push to the playoffs Malone has become an integral part of their lineup.
If Malone can turn into an NHL player fans should take it as a sign the organization is making positive strides.
“It’s often talked about that successful NHL teams draft and develop their late round picks, and turn them into successful players,” said @LetsGoAmerks. Malone could be one of the late round picks that develop into a contributor at the NHL level.
At the very least, he is a Buffalo kid trying to make the roster of his hometown team and he is a very easy player to root for going forward.
For more prospect updates follow myself @austin_broad and for extensive amerks coverage follow @LetsGoAmerks
*Stats provided by eliteprospect