(Photo: Melissa Kania)

Buffalo Sabres Prospect Profile: Brady Austin

Buffalo Sabres prospect Brady Austin will enter his fifth and final season in the Ontario Hockey League next month when OHL action begins in mid-September. Austin, a former member of the OHL’s Erie Otters, currently plays with the Belleville Bulls, with whom he’ll kick off the regular season September 20.

The 20-year-old was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in 2012 NHL Entry Draft, with the 193rd overall selection in the 7th round. A native of Peterborough, Austin is a sizable defenseman who’s been growing through the OHL for the past several years.

When I say sizable… I mean it: Austin is listed at 6-4, 225 pounds, and he is certainly a presence on the ice.

Austin may be relatively unknown to many Buffalo Sabres fans, but I’ve actually been watching him for several years. He currently plays for the OHL’s Belleville Bulls, but he also played a few hours down the I-90 from Buffalo several years ago, with the OHL’s Erie Otters.

He made his OHL debut with the Otters on September 18, 2009 against the Sudbury Wolves and scored his first OHL point the next game, against Sault Ste. Marie (an assist). He scored his first OHL goals on November 6, 2009 against the Niagara IceDogs. That was one of four multi-point games for him that season, with the “best” game being a three-assist campaign against Peterborough on February 13, 2010.

Austin ended his rookie season with five goals and 10 assists in 64 games as the Otters were eliminated out of the playoffs by the Windsor Spitfires.

He returned to Erie for his second OHL season and put up one goal and 12 assists in 59 games during the 2010-11 season, being put up at forward often. He also got more physical, accruing 47 penalty minutes (compared to 24 in his rookie year). Once again, Erie was eliminated in the playoffs by the Spitfires.

On August 2, 2011, things changed. Austin was dealt to the Belleville Bulls in exchange for goaltender Tyson Teichmann, and it was in Belleville that following season that Austin would put up a career-high 26 points (6-20) in 68 games. He also had a career-high 59 penalty minutes and six multi-point games during the 2011-12 regular season and added one goal in six playoff games with the Bulls.

Last season, Austin appeared in 64 games with the Bulls, scoring a career-high eight goals, adding 15 assists and notching a plus-16 rating. Three of his eight goals came on the power play. He missed several games with a hand injury, but returned to appear in 17 playoff games with Belleville. He had five assists and six penalty minutes in the postseason.

After the Sabres drafted Austin, director of amateur scouting Kevin Devine called Austin a “defensive defenseman,” noting his size and toughness as key points that give him a chance. I’d have to agree: his size makes him impossible to miss on the ice, he can be aggressive, and he isn’t afraid to drop the gloves when necessary (1, 2, 3).

He’ll have one more season in the OHL before the Sabres need to sign him.

Want to see for yourself? The Belleville Bulls – and Buffalo Sabres prospect Brady Austin –  visit the Niagara IceDogs (St. Catharines, ON, 32 miles, or about a 40-minute drive) on Saturday, October 19 and Tuesday, December 31. They’ll also visit the Erie Otters (96 miles from Buffalo, an easy 90-minute drive with slightly more affordable tickets than Niagara) on Friday, October 18.

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