Yesterday evening at the second day of the Buffalo Sabres Development Camp, the young prospects faced off against each other in a full contact scrimmage (and the contact was seen all over the ice). It was team Blue versus team White and it was a back and forth game filled with big hits, great plays, plenty of goals, and even a fight between Justin Kea and Anthony Florentino. None of the players held anything back in this game whatsoever, but there were a couple of distinct standouts.
The first is White team goaltender Linus Ullmark. There’s a reason that this kid won as one of the best goaltenders in the Swedish League. He proved his skills by shutting out the Blue team while he was in net, and he did so in a convincing fashion. His positioning was tight and his reflexes are faster than most 20 year old goaltenders. His vision was on point with every save by gobbling up each shot.
The second was White team first line center and second overall draft pick Samson Reinhart. This may have been expected, but this kid does not disappoint with what he was preached to be. His vision for the ice is absolutely incredible. He may not always be in the perfect spot to make the offensive play, but he’s in the right spot to make the correct play. This is a skill that the Sabres could use and the fans may see next season.
The third was Blue team Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen. Granted he did play with the Sabres for a number of games last season, but the Ristolainen that I saw on the ice yesterday was a much different one than what was seen last year. This was a Ristolainen that had much more heart and will to fight for every play. He threw his body around, he took shots, and he blocked two empty net shots near the end of the game. Even thought his team was down by 3 with 3 minutes left, he refused to give up. Thats a great sign going to the future.
These were just three standout players that impressed me the most during the game. There were many more players that showed great skill as well as improvements. With as deep a prospect pool as the Sabres have, and the skill set they all have, the future looks very bright for this organization.