Sabres development camp kicks off today at HarborCenter as Rasmus Dahlin will formally take the ice as a Sabre for the first time.
Development camp really is what it’s name says, it’s not an evaluation camp. These players aren’t going to win or lose a starting job on the Sabres with how they do in skill drills or in a 3-on-3 scrimmage. Certain players will stand out in certain areas, but it’s really not any indication of how their game translates as an NHL player.
Per usual the development camp roster is a mix of new and old faces with a mix of ten invitees. The invitee that I would keep an eye on is Brandon Biro from Penn State. He had 31 points in 37 games as a sophomore, and someone that I found myself noticing when I’d watch Penn State. He can burn, has good hands, a solid release, and despite his 5’11 frame he can use his body to get to the inside.
Not in any order of importance, here are five other things to watch at this year’s development camp.
5. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen
Luukkonen was a fan favorite at Sabres development camp last year with his flashy saves and fluorescent orange pads. UPL had a disappointing performance at the World Juniors in Buffalo, but remains a very good prospect. He’s the best goalie prospect in the pipeline behind Linus Ullmark and at this point the only other goalie that projects as a future NHLer. It can be tough to evaluate goalies at development camps as they’re continuously being attacked 1 on 1 in most drills, but UPL’s mix of technicality and size makes him a fun one to watch.
4. Lawrence Pilut
Lawrence Pilut has fallen a little under the radar as his signing came around the same time as the Rasmus Dahlin hype was reaching it’s peak. I’m a huge fan of the Pilut signing and although he will start the year in Rochester, I think he’s going to play a solid role in the future of the Sabres blue-line. Despite being a defenseman, I think Pilut is going to be a blast to watch in the 3-on-3 scrimmage. Many Sabres fans don’t know what Pilut’s all about yet, but development camp can be a start to his coming out party.
3. Year Two
I’m ecstatic to watch Casey Mittelstadt take the ice for his second development camp with the Sabres. Although many loved Mittelstadt heading into last year’s camp, he really emerged himself this season as a top 3 prospect in the entire NHL. Mittelstadt has NHL games to now draw experience from and although he appears to be a virtual lock to be a Sabre next year, it’ll be interesting to see Mittelstadt’s progression from last year’s camp. Mittelstadt’s at the top of the totem pole when it comes to flashiness and dangles and he’ll be like a kid on a playground going through the drills. Casey was among the most dominant players in last year’s 3-on-3 scrimmage as well so all eyes will be on him to follow up that performance coming in a year older.
2. The Unknowns
Like Oskari Laaksonen last year, the Sabres drafted two unranked players in Miska Kukkonen and William Worge Kreu. Not too much to say about them but it’ll be nice to get a look at some players we know nothing about.
1 – Rasmus
Can’t wait to watch Rasmus Asplund. Kidding, although I do look forward to watching Asplund as well, all eyes will be on Rasmus Dahlin this week. Finally we get to see Dahlin with the Sabres crest on the ice. Him and Mittelstadt will likely put on a show in the 3-on-3 scrimmage.