photo via LetsGoAmerks
Today marked the final day of 2018 Sabres development, ending with the 3-on-3 French Connection Tourney.
The teams were as followed
Going into the tournament, I would’ve chosen Team Perreault as the favorite. Rasmus Dahlin and Victor Olofsson are two game breakers on offense with Dahlin’s ability on defense as well. Andrew Oglevie has had a nice camp and his speed and skill could separate him in a 3-on-3 situation, and Brandon Biro is an invite who’s performed well all week. Biro, like Oglevie, has good speed and playmaking ability — a perfect combo for 3-on-3. They had a good skating and solid defenseman in Brandon Hickey out of BU who came over in the Fasting trade, and Jake Kielly has been a solid goalie invitee.
Going into the semi-final, Team Robert (Gray) surprisingly found themselves on top. With Mattias Samuelsson not skating, there was no one above a 4th round pick skating for the team. Most would’ve expected them to be the bottom seed, but led by great play from Matej Pekar, Vasily Glotov, Will Borgen, and Jacob Bryson, Team Gray found themselves on top. Vasily Glotov was the driving force on offense, his speed consistently backed off defenseman and created space for him to either make a pass or keep pushing forward and make someone look silly.
Matej Pekar was the talk of Team Gray as he was absolutely all over the place. He was fun to watch offensively as he consistently got in on the forecheck and pissed people off. He claims he’s not a “skill-guy,” but had to have gone between his legs with the puck five times — one even leading to a pretty sweet goal past Rasmus Dahlin. Pekar was playing more physical than you’d expect of a 3-on-3 tournament, but it proved to be extremely entertaining as him and Casey Mittelstadt started to go at it.
… and at it.
Team Gray’s goalie, Hunter Sheppard, of Minnesota Duluth was a big part of their success as well as he stood on his head at times to make saves like the one below.
Team Martin (White) were the eventual champions of the tournament after defeating Team Robert (Gray) in the semi-final and Team Perreault (Navy) in the final.
Team Hasek (Gold)
- Brendan Guhle’s presence as a now four year development camp veteran propelled him above many others in the scrimmage. He was dominant in his own zone defensively and breaking the puck out with ease. He contributed nicely on offense as well, highlighted by a shootout goal to defeat Team Robert (Gray).
- Rasmus Asplund had a hell of a day. He was excellent in his own zone and continuously made smart, calculated, defensive stops. He seemed to always make the right play on offense and showed a diverse skillset in his ability to pass, shoot, or drive wide in a bunch of different scenarios. Oozing of speed and smarts. If his team had a better performance he’d be in consideration for MVP.
- Linus Weissbach showcased his speed nicely. He had a few plays that got the crowd out of the seats but I would’ve liked to see it pan out a little more into goals. Overall a solid showing though.
- Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen played well, the spectacular play of Hunter Shepard overshadowed him a bit, though
Team Perreault (Navy)
- Rasmus Dahlin was a blast to watch in the scrimmage. He had one mistake where Matej Pekar was able to slither past him for a goal, but other than that he was dynamic. The way he was able to escape pressure and opposing forecheckers was incredible. Watching him at full speed in person – the way he moves is very effortless and he can change direction on a dime.
- Victor Olofsson showed off his offensive ability with a pair of highlight reel goals.
- Andrew Oglevie had a really good day. He’s another that likely starts in Rochester but could be a dark horse to make the Sabres with his skating. He’s already 23 years old and has gone through four years of college, he doesn’t need as much development as others.
- Before development camp I said that invitee, Brandon Biro, out of Penn State was my camp invite to watch and now that camp has concluded I feel the same way. Biro had a pair of really nice goals using his hands in tight to the net and going top shelf off a backhand on one of them and five hole on the other. Definitely a player I think the Sabres could take a look at as a FA signing in the future.
Team Robert (Gray)
- I already touched on Team Gray in ‘The Underdogs” section.
Team Martin (White) – Champions
- Lawrence Pilut was one of the most fun players to watch this entire week and today was no different. If you had no prior knowledge of the roster it would be really hard to believe that Pilut is a defenseman, he’s so skilled it ridiculous. Even just some of the deceptions and fakes he uses breaking the puck out of the zone are something you’d expect to see from a forward. He played a huge part in Team Martin’s championship. He’s an exceptional skater and has the hands, vision, and passing ability of an elite forward, he was honestly like another Mittelstadt out there. Really looking forward to the future of his career.
- Miska Kukkonen was one of the mystery unranked draftees this year that no one knew anything about heading into camp. It was hard to get an idea of what he was all about just going through drill work, but today he was able to show more of what he can do. He’s not huge, yet not small with his six-foot frame. He’s moves well with and without the puck and I thought he looked his best when running the cycle in the offensive zone. He was skating well and making short but smart passes to free up space for himself and others, he also contributed a goal off a penalty shot. He actually has some similarities to Oskari Laaksonen who couldn’t make it to camp this year. Excited to see Kukkonen again next year and how he progresses.
- I thought invitee out of North Dakota, Andrew Peski, had another solid day. He skated and moved the puck well in the 3-on-3 despite not having a lot of contribution on the scoresheet.
Last but not least
3-on-3 MVP – Casey Mittelstadt
Casey Mittelstadt went back-to-back today winning his 2nd French Connection Tournament in as many years. He’s been a blast to watch all week once again this year and to no-ones surprise was the best player today with four goals, a ton of assists, and the game winning goal in the shootout to win the championship. When he wasn’t scoring goals he was mixing it up with Matej Pekar and was someone to keep an eye on all day. Check out some of his highlights below.
Had a great time at development camp this week! I might do one more big final wrap up for the week so if that’s something you’d like to see definitely let me know. Thanks for reading all the coverage the past few days.
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