The Buffalo Sabres’ annual rookie development camp is upon us and we at From The 300 Level will be providing insight on it throughout the week.
Here are our thoughts from day one of the camp:
CASEY FITZGERALD MADE HIS PRESENCE KNOWN
The former third-round pick in 2016 and co-captain of Boston College, Fitzgerald certainly brought his competitiveness to practice on Wednesday. During drills in the corners, Fitzgerald threw his weight around while opposing forwards would attempt to get away and make plays.
Try as they might, Fitzgerald wouldn’t let them have their way and consistently draped himself over the opposition. Perhaps it’s a sign of things to come, as he will likely begin this season with the Rochester Americans.
ERIK PORTILLO A SURPRISE
Portillo, the Sabres’ third-round choice from this past Saturday, wasn’t ranked by NHL Central Scouting heading into the draft for a reason. The skinny on him was what you would expect from a European goaltender – a kid with good size who would play deep in his net and let his size do the talking.
One thing that wasn’t talked about enough was his poise and his ability to square up to shooters. Both of those attributes were on display on Wednesday, and while there is plenty of rawness to his game there is something to work with. His technique and other areas of his game will be honed at the University of Michigan next fall.
TAGE THOMPSON A MAN AMONGST BOYS
For anyone watching Buffalo last season, it was obvious that Tage Thompson – the centerpiece of the Ryan O’Reilly deal last summer – was immensely talented. That showed on Wednesday as his size, long reach and powerful shot seemed to be head and shoulders above everyone else’s.
Granted, Thompson does have the advantage of playing in more than 100 NHL games. But it makes one wonder why, in addition to the 11 combined games Thompson spent with the Amerks late last season, he didn’t get more ice time on the AHL club. The opportunity to work on his all-around game would have benefited him long-term more than being a healthy scratch at times and watching games from the press box in the NHL, that’s for sure.