Welcome back folks, as we continue to preview the 2011-12 season of the Rochester Americans, I present to you the 2nd installment: Left Wingers.
DOB: August 10, 1991 (Age 20)
Framework: 6’3, 227 lbs.
Amerks Jersey #: 71
The Buffalo-born Foligno, son of Sabre legend Mike Foligno, was the 104th overall draft pick of the Sabres in 2009. He has spent the last 4 seasons with Sudbury of the OHL, playing in 245 games and tallying 139 points to go along with 382 penalty minutes. Aside from being a key component in helping the Sabres win the recent Traverse City Prospects Tournament, he also won the silver medal at the 2011 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships.
From Scott Campbell over at thescoutingreport.org: “So far this year it looks like Foligno will enjoy a breakout season offensively as he looks to make the final steps to prepare himself for the AHL next season. More or less a man playing with boys now, Foligno is one of the biggest hitters in the OHL today and can really set the tone of the game with his physical play. He’s also a very adept player with the puck and is a pretty creative player in small spaces and is especially effective controlling the puck down low deep in the offensive zone. At this point, the only thing holding him back from an eventual role in the NHL will be his skating, which has improved considerably since he broke into the league. At this point, he looks like he’ll develop into a real quality physical third line winger at the NHL level, but he does have some offensive upside which could allow him to contribute a bit on the score sheet as well.”
Foligno utilizes his big frame to play the role of a power forward with effectiveness, so it is little wonder that his favorite hockey player growing up was Claude Lemieux. His leadership qualities were evidenced by his captaincy with Sudbury, and is displayed through the determination he plays with on the ice. Sudbury teammates nicknamed him ‘Cinder,’ because they felt his hand were like cinder blocks. During an interview with The Canadian Press, Foligno offered insight on how he compares with his father’s hard-working, grinding style: “I think I take a lot out of my dad’s books,” Foligno said. “I feel on the forecheck I’m an energy guy who wants the puck a lot, and is physical too. I love hitting guys on the forecheck.” His physical play keeps opponents on edge, and with his charge-the-net style, it shouldn’t be too long before fans get to see him do the “Foligno Leap” in the NHL. Also worth noting, is that Foligno was 2nd in the OHL in the shorthanded goals category.
DOB: February 20, 1991 (Age 20)
Framework: 6’5, 220
Amerks Jersey #: 45
Boychuk was a 7th round pick of the Sabres in the 2010 draft. He has spent the last 4 years skating with the Portland Winterhawks in the WHL, putting up 391 penalty minutes and 83 points in 194 games. According to hockeyfights.com, he was involved in at least 20 fights over the course of the last 3 seasons, so he is clearly not afraid to drop the gloves. For a player of his size, he shouldn’t be afraid to get his fists flying for the Amerks this year, and will be bringing an intimidation factor to the rink.
Who does Boychuk model his game after? “Bertuzzi in his prime,” he said. “I like bumping and grinding out there.” Scouting reports indicate that he could use some improvement in his skating and footwork, but has raw potential due to the rugged, physical game he plays. Although he will not be short circuiting the goal lamp, he does have excellent hands and playmaking skills. Boychuk missed most of the WHL season when he was 16, due to needing major hip surgery. Despite that, he is definitely in superb shape, as he won the Paul Gaustad Fitness Award three years in a row, given to the player who performs the best in the Winterhawks’ training camp fitness testing, which includes bench press, squat, vertical jump and shuttle run.
DOB: December 17, 1984 (Age 26)
Framework: 5’11, 185 lbs.
Amerks Jersey #: 21
Whitmore spent 4 seasons playing with Bowling Green State University while majoring in exercise science and as a senior was named to the All-Star team. Since then, he went undrafted and has skated in the AHL for Portland for the last 3 years, participating in 243 games and notching 104 points. In 2008-09, he was the winner of the AHL Man of the Year award for his outstanding contributions to the Portland community.
Born in Rochester, “Whitty” should be excited to be coming home to play for his hometown Amerks fans. He also lists the garbage plate as his favorite meal, so that is an added bonus for him. I anticipate Whitmore becoming a captain of the Amerks this season, as one of his best on-ice qualities is his leadership skills (he was the captain at Bowling Green). He has good vision, reads plays well, and is a workhorse who is willing to sacrifice his body.
DOB: May 16, 1980 (Age 31)
Framework: 6’1, 188 lbs.
Amerks Jersey #: 19
He’s back! Ryan was a 2nd round draft pick of the Dallas Stars back in 1999, and I don’t think many Sabres fans like to hear that team name and year mentioned in the same sentence, but he was brought in to be one of the vets helping along the prospects for Rochester this year. In 2003, the Sabres traded fan favorite Stuuuuuuuuu Barnes for Ryan, after which he spent his 2003 to 2007 seasons for the Amerks, which included 51 points in 50 games, and 4 goals in 6 playoff games in 2007. The Sabres gave him a shot at the NHL in 07-08, but he only notched 8 points, and he was subsequently released. Ryan infamously scored on his own goal past Ryan Miller in his NHL debut.
Ryan is a quality depth signing, and his playing experience will be very valuable for the Sabres in case they fall to a serious rash of injuries. He will also bring some leadership to the ice and locker room for the Amerks, and was a favorite player of many Rochesterians during his previous tenure. He was a team captain in his college days, and he won the 2003 Joe Tomasello Award, presented to college hockey’s unsung hero, so it is quite likely he may be the Amerks captain.
DOB: July 8, 1982 (Age 29)
Framework: 6’2, 205 lbs.
Amerks Jersey #: 10
Stuart, brother of Winnipeg Jet Mark Stuart, is another veteran signing by the Sabres, brought in help teach some of the younger guys the ropes. Originally drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2001, he has spent the last 7 seasons playing in mostly the AHL, with 54 NHL games sprinkled in between. He posted up solid stats in Portland last year, with 44 points in 72 regular season games, and another 7 points in 12 playoff games.
In 2008, Stuart helped the Chicago Wolves win the Calder Cup. He has shown nice speed on his skates, good instincts and work ethic, and has been developing into an excellent penalty killer and shorthanded specialist. Stuart has proven himself willing and able to take on any roles provided to him, and he will be another valuable asset for the development of the Sabres prospects in Rochester this season.