By John Vogl
Mark Pysyk has watched with interest as the Sabres made moves along the blue line this offseason. They drafted two defensemen in the first round, added two more in trades and re-signed another who was expected to walk out the door.
It's made things crowded, but Pysyk doesn't mind.
"It’s definitely exciting for the future," the 21-year-old defenseman said today at the Sabres' development camp. "A lot of defensemen, a lot of challenge to make the team, a lot of competition within the team, which will be good. I think it’ll push everybody to be that much better."
In his first year as a pro last season, Pysyk transformed from healthy scratch in Rochester to key player in Buffalo. He played in the 18- to 20-minute range during the Sabres' final seven games to seemingly lock down a spot for next year.
Now he'll have to work for it. Henrik Tallinder and Jamie McBain arrived via trade, No. 8 overall pick Rasmus Ristolainen will compete for an NHL job, and Buffalo re-signed Alexander Sulzer, who is coming off knee surgery. Add in Tyler Myers, Christian Ehrhoff, Mike Weber, Chad Ruhwedel and Brayden McNabb, and it's crowded.
"I’m just going to do the same thing as last year, come in in the best shape I can and be the best player I can be, and see what happens," Pysyk said in First Niagara Center. "I’m looking forward to it. I got a little taste. Once you get that taste, you’ll doing anything to get back there and keep playing there."
Pysyk participated in the first group of prospects this morning. The afternoon session, which will run from 3-4:30 p.m., will feature Mikhail Grigorenko, Justin Bailey, Sean Malone, McNabb, Ruhwedel and goaltender Andrey Makarov.