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Road to the NHL Draft: Jordan Subban

By John Vogl

Jordan Subban

Position: Defense

Junior team: Belleville (OHL)

Born: Rexdale, Ont.

Measurables: 5-foot-8, 170 pounds

2012-13 stats: 68 games, 15 goals, 36 assists, 51 points

Central Scouting rank: No. 55

Lowdown: Studying is one of Subban’s top traits. The principal’s son has earned academic honors while playing in the OHL. But studying tape of his brothers and taking notes while watching their games is what really has Subban in line to add to the family legacy. His brother P.K. is a star defenseman for Montreal and a finalist for the Norris Trophy. His brother Malcolm, a goaltender, was selected by Boston in the first round last year.

Jordan Subban doesn’t have the size of P.K., but he has a similar rocket from the point that knows how to find the net. It’s hard and very accurate. He’s a power-play quarterback with tremendous passing skills and the poise to make the right play. He was plus-22 this season after a minus-23 outing last year.

His height and weight are major issues. He can be pushed around down low. If he can’t add pounds to his frame, he won’t make it in front of the net in the NHL.

He said it: "We both like to play emotional and compete very hard. He’s a little bit bigger than me, so I think I try to play a little bit more smarter and just use my stick well, where he can get away with using his strength and big body.” – Subban on comparisons to his brother P.K.

The Buffalo News is profiling 30 prospects in 30 days leading up to the NHL draft June 30.

Nurse could be a hit with Sabres, but he won't be a Bills backer

By John Vogl

Darnell Nurse, a likely top-10 pick in the NHL draft who's profiled in today's editions of The News, has a football background. His dad, Richard, played wide receiver in the Canadian Football League after a season at Canisius College. Nurse's uncle is Donovan McNabb, the former NFL star.

"I love football," Nurse said. "On Sunday, I’m probably on my couch for 90 percent of the day watching football."

He's not watching the Bills, though, despite growing up in nearby Hamilton, Ont.

Continue reading "Nurse could be a hit with Sabres, but he won't be a Bills backer" »

Road to the NHL Draft: Eric Comrie

By John Vogl

Eric Comrie

Position: Goaltender

Junior team: Tri-City (WHL)

Born: Edmonton, Alberta

Measurables: 6-foot-1, 167 pounds

2012-13 stats: 20-14-3, 2.62 GAA, .915 save pct.

Central Scouting rank: No. 2 (North America)

Lowdown: Goaltending is important for Tri-City. The team’s owner is Olaf Kolzig, who played 719 games in the NHL. Tri-City alums include Montreal’s Carey Price and the Flyers’ Brian Boucher. Comrie is continuing the tradition.

The half-brother of former NHL forward Mike Comrie gets extensive tutoring year-round, and it’s paying off. The dual citizen, who grew up in Edmonton and California, backstopped Canada to gold at the Ivan Hlinka under-18 tournament. A student of the game, he anticipates plays by watching a lot of video and learning players’ tendencies. He moves laterally very well.

Comrie’s season ended in February because of hip surgery. Scouts don’t have a full season to judge, and teams can’t be sure how he’ll fare under playoff pressure. He has no postseason experience.

He said it: "I think the best way to develop skills is pre-scouting. You watch a lot of their video and understand their tendencies and what the team likes to do with the puck, and also just by playing you gain experience. That’s why goalies make it at older ages. They have experiences they know where the puck is going in different situations." – Comrie to the TheHockeyWriters.com.

The Buffalo News is profiling 30 prospects in 30 days leading up to the NHL draft June 30.

Road to the NHL Draft: Nathan MacKinnon

Memorial Cup Final Ho_Naso
By John Vogl

Nathan MacKinnon

Position: Center

Junior team: Halifax (QMJHL)

Born: Halifax, Nova Scotia

Measurables: 6-foot, 182 pounds

2012-13 stats: 44 games, 32 goals, 43 assists, 75 points

Central Scouting rank: No. 2 (North America)

Lowdown: It’s not a bad thing to be compared to Sidney Crosby. Hockey’s premier player was born in Halifax, played junior hockey there and became an NHL franchise player. MacKinnon mirrors Crosby on the first two, and there’s little reason to think he won’t join him for the final piece of the trifecta. The center can do it all, primarily because of his skating. No one in the draft has MacKinnon’s explosiveness. A stride or two is all he needs to separate himself from the opponents. Once free, he has sniper ability and magnificent passing vision. He may not become Crosby, but he should become the best player on his NHL team in a relatively short period of time.

MacKinnon leaped to No. 1 on many draft boards after leading Halifax to the Memorial Cup title. He made a mockery of his competition in the junior playoffs, recording 11 goals and 33 points in 17 postseason contests. He scored three times in the championship game with scouts watching every move.

MacKinnon doesn’t turn 18 until Sept. 1 and would have had to wait until the 2014 draft if he was born two weeks later. With a maturity beyond his years, he’ll be at or near the top of the 2013 selection process.

He said it: “I’m pretty interested in some of the teams I could end up with. Obviously, anything can happen on draft day. Teams could decide to trade their picks or anything like that, but it’s human nature to be interested in that kind of stuff, what your future could be.” – MacKinnon.

The Buffalo News is profiling 30 prospects in 30 days leading up to the NHL draft June 30.

Road to the NHL Draft: Max Domi

By John Vogl

Max Domi

Position: Center

Junior team: London (OHL)

Born: Winnipeg, Manitoba

Measurables: 5-foot-9, 185 pounds

2012-13 stats: 64 games, 39 goals, 48 assists, 87 points

Central Scouting rank: No. 19 (North America)

Lowdown: There’s no doubt being the son of an NHL player has certain perks. Domi, for example, grew up sharing the ice with stars such as Mats Sundin, Joe Nieuwendyk and Gary Roberts while his dad, Tie, played for Toronto. Max Domi learned how to be a pro from a young age.

There can be drawbacks, as well. Opponents see the name on the back of the sweater and take their best shot. But Domi’s main obstacles have included Type 1 diabetes and inheriting his dad’s lack of height. The compact, powerful forward wears an insulin pump during games and monitors his glucose levels on the bench and at intermission.

Domi has overcome the challenges so far. He’s strong like his pugilistic father, but he’s mainly a scorer. He had a hat trick in his OHL debut and has continued to torment goaltenders. He has top-level speed and an impressive touch around the net. The concern is whether he’ll get pushed around by bigger players at the NHL level, but the name Domi carries a reputation for fighting through obstacles.

He said it: "It’s a blessing to be able to hang around with guys like Mats Sundin, Mario Lemieux, ask them questions and learn from them, obviously. It’s definitely beneficial for me. It’s a lot of fun to be around them.” – Domi.

The Buffalo News is profiling 30 prospects in 30 days leading up to the NHL draft June 30.

Road to the NHL Draft: Sean Monahan

By John Vogl

Sean Monahan

Position: Center

Junior team: Ottawa (OHL)

Born: Brampton, Ont.

Measurables: 6-foot-2, 187 pounds

2012-13 stats: 58 games, 31 goals, 47 assists, 78 points

Central Scouting rank: No. 5 (North America)

Lowdown: Monahan was the definition of a one-man team this season. His 78-point outing was nearly double the second-place showing of 40 on the woeful Ottawa squad. With more talent on his wings, Monahan may have put up numbers to rival the league’s best. He drew admirers anyway with offensive skills to go alongside a dependable defensive game.

Monahan is one of the top two-way centers in the draft. He has a solid hockey sense and good size to play in the middle. He should develop into a faceoff ace. He’s consistent, too, with back-to-back 30-goal, 40-assist seasons.

Monahan’s main drawback is his skating. He won’t amaze onlookers with end-to-end rushes, but he shouldn’t be two strides behind all game, either. He can slow the game to his pace and take advantage. He served a 10-game suspension for elbowing an opponent in the face.

He said it: "I believe that playing on a rebuilding team at some point in your career is part of being a professional. I learned how to control my emotions better during a game, and that allowed me to focus and play my game. I was also able to build on my leadership skills and was able to react differently at different times during the season." – Monahan wrote on his monthly blog at NHL.com.

The Buffalo News is profiling 30 prospects in 30 days leading up to the NHL draft June 30.

Road to the NHL Draft: Zachary Fucale

Memorial Cup Hockey_Naso
Associated Press Photo

 

By John Vogl

 Zachary Fucale

Position: Goaltender

Junior team: Halifax (QMJHL)

Born: Laval, Quebec

Measurables: 6-foot-1, 181 pounds

2012-13 stats: 45-5-3, 2.35 GAA, .909 save pct.

Central Scouting rank: No. 1 (North America)

Lowdown: It’s easy for goaltenders to win when they’re surrounded by ridiculous talent. Halifax boasts Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin, both pegged to go in the top three of the draft, and the squad rolled to the Memorial Cup championship. Fucale reaped the benefits, going 16-1 with a 2.02 goals-against average and .918 save percentage.

It’s not easy, though, for goalies to stay focused during routs. Halifax outscored its opponents, 347-176, giving Fucale plenty of lonely moments at the end of the rink. He received good marks for staying in the game and learning to be ready when action inevitably arrived.

Practicing daily against future stars Drouin and MacKinnon helped Fucale’s progress. He’s got good size for a goaltender and is positionally sound. He’s adept at reading plays, which reduces the number of sparkling saves he needs to make. Goalies can be a bargain toward the middle of the draft, but someone is expected to take a run at Fucale in the first round.

He said it: "I’ve evolved as a goalie from last year. I worked on every single little part of my game. I’ve become better. I’ve tried to improve every little aspect. … Playoffs, it’s do or die. You want to win. It’s big games in playoffs, and it was a great learning experience this year. I’m looking forward to other playoffs and learning more." – Fucale.

The Buffalo News is profiling 30 prospects in 30 days leading up to the NHL draft June 30.

Road to the NHL Draft: Valentin Zykov

By John Vogl

Valentin Zykov

Position: Left wing

Junior team: Baie-Comeau (QMJHL)

Born: St. Petersburg, Russia

Measurables: 6-foot, 208 pounds

2012-13 stats: 67 games, 40 goals, 35 assists, 75 points

Central Scouting rank: No. 7

Lowdown: Like Sabres prospect Mikhail Grigorenko, Zykov left his Russian homeland to play in the Quebec junior league. It’s trending toward a necessary step for foreign players who want to leave no doubt that the NHL, not the KHL, is the place for them.

An unknown before the season, Zykov rocketed up draft charts with a 40-goal outing that culminated in Canadian Hockey League Rookie of the Year honors. He has a body built for smaller North American rinks. Though Russian, scouts view him as a prototypical Canadian power forward who likes to crash the net. He is tough to knock off the puck and wins battles along the boards. He has an accurate shot and deceptive speed.

Zykov needs to improve his consistency. He hasn’t shown well in international competitions, leading to mixed reviews. While NHL Central Scouting has him seventh, International Scouting Services ranked him 19th and scouts for the Hockey News rated him 31st.

They said it: "Valentin demonstrates extraordinary rigor in everything he takes on. He is serious in his training on and off the ice, and leaves nothing half done. He is intense, driven and a perfectionist. No other player on the team possesses as much discipline as Valentin. He has a calm and quiet temperament and a positive influence on his teammates in and out of the locker room.” -- Eric Veilleux, coach of Baie-Comeau.

The Buffalo News is profiling 30 prospects in 30 days leading up to the NHL draft June 30.

Road to the NHL Draft: Adam Tambellini

By John Vogl

Adam Tambellini

Position: Left wing

Junior team: Surrey (BCHL)

Born: Edmonton, Alberta

Measurables: 6-foot-2, 158 pounds

2012-13 stats: 36 games, 22 goals, 17 assists, 39 points

Central Scouting rank: No. 42

Lowdown: There’s no longer a chance of Steve Tambellini stepping to the dais at the draft and calling the name of his son Adam. Edmonton fired the elder Tambellini in April after nearly five seasons as the Oilers’ general manager. Some team, though, will add another Tambellini to the NHL fraternity.

Adam Tambellini is hoping to follow his father and brother Jeff to the big leagues. He’s taken the small-circuit route to getting there. Rather than play in the Canadian Hockey League, which would have cost him any chance of playing collegiately, Tambellini skated in the British Columbia Hockey League. It’s on par with the Ontario Junior Hockey League, home to the Buffalo Junior Sabres. Tambellini helped lead his team to the championship with 10 goals and 18 points in 17 playoff games.

He’ll need to put on weight when he gets to the University of North Dakota. Though he projects well, Tambellini has to prove himself against top-level peers.

They said it: "He works hard in practice every day, and regardless of what his last name is he’d up there in the draft as a pretty high pick. … He's a pure sniper. He's got that big-league shot and release. He's a power forward, he's still a little bit slight, but he's going to fill out and mature.” – Surrey coach Matt Erhart to the Journal Pioneer (PEI, Canada) and Nanaimo (British Columbia) Daily News.

The Buffalo News is profiling 30 prospects in 30 days leading up to the NHL draft June 30.

Road to the NHL Draft: Anthony Mantha

By John Vogl

Anthony Mantha

Position: Right wing

Junior team: Val-D’or (QMJHL)

Born: Longueuil, Quebec

Measurables: 6-foot-4, 190 pounds

2012-13 stats: 67 games, 50 goals, 39 assists, 89 points

Central Scouting rank: No. 10

Lowdown: The name Pronovost should resonate with longtime Buffalo fans and Sabres historians. Marcel Pronovost coached the Sabres for two seasons in the late 1970s. He played in the NHL, as did brothers Andre, Claude and Jean. Mantha is the grandson of Andre Pronovost, and that’s where he learned the game and its nuances.

The tips turned Mantha into one of junior hockey’s most potent snipers. It takes special talent to score 50 goals at any level. Mantha’s enviable traits include an eagerness to score and a terrific shot. He’s been compared to the Sabres’ Thomas Vanek for his ability to pick corners and fire through people.

Mantha focuses more on offense than defense, so he has work to do to become a two-way player. Despite gaudy stats and measurable improvement – he scored 22 times the previous season – his work ethic has been knocked. Mantha, born Sept. 16, missed the cutoff for the 2012 draft by one day, so he is being measured against players who can be almost a full year younger.

They said it: "He has everything you need to succeed. He can skate, he's smart, he reads the play, he has everything. But if there's one negative, he sometimes has a tendency to take the easy way out. … You can't teach talent like he has or hands like he has." – Chris Bordeleau of Central Scouting to NHL.com.

The Buffalo News is profiling 30 prospects in 30 days leading up to the NHL draft June 30.

Panthers' Tallon gauging trade interest for second overall pick in NHL draft

By John Vogl

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. -- Dale Tallon isn't actively shopping the second overall pick in the NHL draft. He's open to offers, though.

"We’re in good position," the Florida Panthers' general manager said this morning at the NHL scouting combine. "We’ll take advantage of it."

Continue reading "Panthers' Tallon gauging trade interest for second overall pick in NHL draft" »

Road to the NHL Draft: Seth Jones

Memorial Cup Hockey_Naso
Associated Press Photo

 

By John Vogl

Seth Jones

Position: Defense

Junior team: Portland (WHL)

Born: Arlington, Texas

Measurables: 6-foot-4, 205 pounds

2012-13 stats: 61 games, 14 goals, 42 assists, 56 points

Central Scouting rank: No. 1

Continue reading "Road to the NHL Draft: Seth Jones" »

WNYers Bailey, Malone set for simultaneous fitness testing at NHL combine

By John Vogl

The NHL combine is underway in Toronto, but the heavy lifting won't come until later this week. Two local players -- Justin Bailey and Sean Malone -- will lift at the same time.

Representatives from all 30 teams began gathering in The True North over the weekend, and more than 100 draft-eligible prospects were set to join them. Teams can interview as many prospects as they wish during a four-day span (Monday through Thursday), and they have access to independent medical reports.

"What the players have to keep in mind is that this will be their initial contact with many NHL teams, so they have the chance to make that good initial impression," Dan Marr, NHL director of central scouting, told NHL.com. "Some kids aren't that comfortable when they're in an interview environment, so it's important they be prepared to talk about themselves, which is something they might not be used to doing. The combine gives the NHL teams a chance to get to know the player away from the rink."

The talks lead to action at the end of the week. The fitness test portion of the combine will be conducted Friday and Saturday. Bailey, who's ranked 38th by Central Scouting, and Malone, who is No. 62, will work out at 3:30 p.m. Friday.

There are 13 individual tests designed to show the prospects' endurance.

Buffalo's Justin Bailey among the prospects who'll attend NHL draft combine

By John Vogl

The NHL combine continues to grow in size and significance. Justin Bailey will find out in person.

The Buffalo-born right winger is one of 101 prospects set to take part in the combine next week in Toronto. The players eligible for June's draft will have interviews Monday through May 30 and a fitness test May 31 and June 1.

Bailey is ranked 38th among North American skaters after putting up 17 goals and 36 points in 57 games for Kitchener of the Ontario Hockey League.

The top 79 North Americans on Central Scouting's list will attend the combine, including top prospects Seth Jones, Nathan McKinnon and Jonathan Drouin.

With Sabres looking to move up from No. 8, trades have been rare but worth it

By John Vogl

Darcy Regier has made it clear he wants to move up in the draft. The Sabres hold the No. 8 overall pick, and the general manager has made calls to teams that are picking in front of Buffalo.

It will be a chore trying to convince a fellow GM to deal, based on history.

In the 25 drafts since 1988, the teams holding the eighth pick have moved up just twice. In both trades, the team had to give up a second-round pick to jump just a few spots.

It was definitely worth it.

Continue reading "With Sabres looking to move up from No. 8, trades have been rare but worth it" »

Draft spot set heading into lottery

By Mike Harrington

Saturday night's games gave the Sabres a better handle on their status for the June 30 draft. Philadelphia's win at Ottawa dropped Buffalo to 12th in the East and 23rd overall in the NHL, so that means the Sabres will likely pick eighth.

The order could change if a) Buffalo takes advantage of its 3.6 percent chance at winning the top pick in Monday's draft lottery to leapfrog to No. 1; or b) slips to ninth if one of the teams below it on the draft list beats even worse odds to claim No. 1. 

The Sabres also own Minnesota's No. 1 pick in the Jason Pominville trade but the Wild will not be in the draft lottery, as they are going to the playoffs after Saturday's 3-1 win at Colorado that eliminated feisty Columbus. The BlueJackets scored three goals in the third period to beat Nashville, 3-1, but finished ninth in the West.

Minnesota's pick will likely be around No. 15-16 but the order of playoff teams isn't finalized until the playoffs are complete.

Florida, with the worst record in the NHL, has a 25 percent chance of winning the lottery. No. 2 Colorado is at 18.8 percent, followed by Tampa Bay (14.2) and Nashville (10.7). No one else is over a 10 percent chance.

Jones tops final Central Scouting draft rankings


Seth Jones draft capsule (NHL.com)

By Mike Harrington

The Sabres are off today, have their final practice Thursday and play their final game of the season Friday night against the New York Islanders. Plenty of decisions to make, notably on Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller, before the draft is held June 30 at the Prudential Center in Newark.

(Miller said last night in Pittsburgh he wants to play here Friday night so he gets in his 500th game as a Sabre. Deserves the milestone, fan reaction aside).

Anyway, once the teams get to The Rock on draft day, they'll have an interesting cadre of talent to choose from. NHL Central Scouting has released its final rankings for the draft today and Portland defenseman Seth Jones, the American-born son of former NBA player Popeye Jones, is the No. 1 North American skater on the board. Nos. 2-3 are Halifax teammates Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin.

The lottery to determine the No. 1 pick in the draft will be held Monday featuring all 14 non-playoff teams. It will be at 8 p.m. and televised by NBC Sports Network.

Continue reading "Jones tops final Central Scouting draft rankings" »

NHL going with one-day draft June 30 in New Jersey

DraftlogoBy John Vogl

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The rumors have become reality as the NHL draft is shrinking to a one-day event.

With the Stanley Cup finals pushed back to late June due to the lockout, it was suspected the league would not have time to hold its usual two-day entry draft. The NHL announced this afternoon that all seven rounds will be held June 30 in Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

Continue reading "NHL going with one-day draft June 30 in New Jersey" »

Report: NHL draft lottery to retain same odds system

By John Vogl

Since the Sabres have won only six of their 16 games this season, news that the NHL will retain its draft lottery system certainly pertains to them.

According to TSN, the league has decided to keep the odds of winning the first overall pick the same. There were discussions to make it more even for all nonplayoff teams.

Here are the odds of getting the No. 1 selection:

Continue reading "Report: NHL draft lottery to retain same odds system" »

NHL draft preview chat with Vogl, guest Baker

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John Vogl

John Vogl

John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

@BuffNewsVogl | [email protected]

About Sabres Edge


Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.

@BNHarrington | [email protected]


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | [email protected]

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