Features | 7/11/2011 9:31:18 AM | Warren Kosel
More than 35 Buffalo Sabres prospects invaded Dwyer Arena on the campus of Niagara University last week for a six-day workout regimen that featured both on and off-ice skill building, in addition to two days of scrimmaging in front of a few thousand loyal fans who made the commute to nearby Lewiston. The Sabres youngsters hit the ice for Buffalo’s annual summer development camp, and for many, it was their first taste of what lies ahead as they make the jump to professional hockey.
“I’m feeling pretty good. That was my last scrimmage before the start of the season and it feels good to leave everything out on the ice,” said defenseman T.J. Brennan following the last day of camp. “I hurt my ankle at the end of last season and I’ve only been training for a few weeks and I wanted to really make sure that it healed up.”
The camp not only presented Brennan with the opportunity to rehab is ailing ankle, but it also gave the 22-year-old a chance to work with the younger prospects in more of a leadership role. Coming off his second season as a pro with the Portland Pirates, Brennan can offer more than just putting up 62 points from his spot at the blueline.
“Being one of the oldest guys here, I try to be a little more of a leader when I’m out there,” said Brennan, Buffalo’s second-round selection (31st overall) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. “I’m just trying to show the younger guys what to do and what it’s all about while at the same time trying to enjoy myself.”
The week-long camp provided prospective players the fundamental ideas of the Sabres playing system and conditioning programs of an NHL player. Camp participants also studied and examined NHL rules and the successful techniques a player must possess to become a professional athlete.
“It was a tough week. Any time you put your body through the type of training it’s a bit sore at the end, but it was great to be on the ice and with the boys again,” said forward Luke Adam, the American Hockey League’s reigning Rookie of the Year after his 62-point output in 2010-11. “
Adam, who also made his NHL debut with the Sabres last season, embraced the opportunity to improve every aspect of his game in order to be fully prepared for the team’s official training camp come this fall. It’s a combination of doing all the little things right, Adam says, that makes the biggest difference coming into a new season.
“Just trying to focus on the little things in practice, whether its quickness off my starts or not missing the net when I’m shooting,” said Adam. It’s those little things that that I can carry forward for the rest of the summer and continue working on for this year.”
From an organizational standout, the Sabres top brass and other members of the executive management team were extremely pleased with how well the prospects took to Buffalo’s systems and adjusted their style of play to that of the big club.
“I thought it was a pretty successful week in my opinion,” said Sabres Director of Pro Scouting and former Amerks Assistant Coach Jon Christiano. “There are a staple of players getting stronger and stronger and it’s really encouraging. I think some of the young guys, the young players from a couple years ago are making strides and they’re getting close to what we would call NHL prospects.”
“I think the depth of the players here was fine. We’ve got a lot of players that played well all week,” added Christiano, who enters his 14th season with the Sabres organization in 2011-12. “I thought there was a great skill level for the majority of the guys we had here and they all have bright futures ahead of them.”