Photo: Melissa Kania

Sabres Prospect Watch: OHL Playoffs -- Conference Finals

Although no Sabres prospects will be heading to the conference finals of the OHL playoffs that begin on Thursday, there are several draft-hopeful players that fans can keep an eye on.

In addition, several Sabres prospects will be participating in the Memorial Cup when it begins next month. Although the London Knights were eliminated in the second round by the Guelph Storm, the Sabres prospects on that team – Nikita Zadorov and Brady Austin – will participate in the Memorial Cup Tournament when it begins on May 16. London is the host team for the tournament, so although they won’t be entering it as a league champion, they’re guaranteed a spot.

Zadorov had one goal and three assists in the five-game series against Guelph. He also racked up 10 penalty minutes against the Storm. His lone goal of the series came shorthanded in game two.

He finished the playoff run with nine points (4-5) in nine games against Windsor and Guelph.

Austin did not play at all in the series against Guelph, as he was out with mononucleosis. His father, a former Oshawa Generals player, also recently passed away, so he may not have returned to action even if the Knights did continue on. His status for the Memorial Cup is uncertain at this point, but it’s still exactly a month away.

The OHL Conference Finals will see the Oshawa Generals face the North Bay Battalion. That series includes former Sabres prospect Alex Lepkowski, who was assigned by the Rochester Americans to the OHL club. Lepkowski has two assists in eight playoff games so far.

That series includes several draft-eligible players, including #5 ranked left winger Michael Dal Colle, #39 ranked right winger Hunter Smith, center Joshua Sterk (84), right winger Jacob Bush (152) and defenseman Stephen Desroscher (125) — all on Oshawa.

For North Bay, there’s Kyle Wood (D, #191), Mike Amadio (C, #68) and Zach Bratina (LW, #186).

In the Western Conference, the Guelph Storm will face the Erie Otters. That series has its own share of NHL prospects – though no Sabres draftees – and future draft picks, including top 2015 projection Connor McDavid.

Relevant to this year’s draft on Guelph: Robby Fabbri (C, #21), Phil Baltisberger (D, #197). On Erie, there’s Kyle Pettit, a centerman ranked 161 by Central Scouting, and goaltender Devin Williams, ranked 15th among North American goaltenders. Williams shares the net with Columbus prospect Oscar Dansk, though Williams has been arguably the stronger goaltender thus far in the playoffs for the Otters.

The Western Conference matchup begins on Thursday in Guelph, with the Eastern Conference opening on Friday in Oshawa. If both series went to seven games, the latest they could wrap up would be April 28. Then it’s off to the OHL Finals for the winners….. and then, the Mastercard Memorial Cup in London beginning on May 16.

Although there are no longer any Sabres prospects in the OHL playoffs, it still bears keeping an eye on, if for two reasons: 1) to get a look at some of the potential draft picks for this – and coming – years 2) to check out prospects already drafted by a number of NHL teams, including the New York Islanders, Columbus Blue Jackets and Toronto Maple Leafs.

For full schedules, scores, etc. of the OHL playoffs, go here.

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Tags: 2014 Nhl Draft Buffalo Sabres Ohl OHL Playoffs

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