Labor Day is a bittersweet marker for hockey fans, and North American sports fans in general, as we sadly say goodbye to summer.. However, the beginning of September does bring about happiness for fans of the NFL as they're getting their regular season under way and NHL training camps begin.
Buffalo Sabres Senior VP of Administration, Mike Gilbert, was on WGR550 radio this morning reminding us all that hockey season is right around the corner. Gilbert said rookies will report to camp on September 7, which is just over two weeks away, and that the third annual Buffalo Sabres Prospects Challenge commences is the following day. The Sabres take on the New Jersey Devils and, hopefully, 2017 first-overall pick Nico Hischier at 7 p.m. The first game of The Challenge pits the Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Boston Bruins at 3:30 p.m.
The rest of the tournament schedule:
Saturday, September 9:
- New Jersey vs. Pittsburgh - 3:30 p.m.
- Buffalo vs. Boston - 7 p.m.
- NO GAMES
- Boston vs. New Jersey - 12 p.m.
- Buffalo vs. Pittsburgh - 7 p.m.
The rest of the preseason schedule:
|Friday||Sept. 22||at Toronto||7:30 PM||Ricoh Coliseum (Toronto, Ont.)|
|Saturday||Sept. 23||TORONTO||7:00 PM||KeyBank Center|
|Wednesday||Sept. 27||at Pittsburgh||7:00 PM||PPG Paints Arena|
|Friday||Sept. 29||NY ISLANDERS||7:00 PM||KeyBank Center|
The Sabres will be headed into camp with a new GM in Jason Botterill, a new head coach in Phil Housley and a new hope that they can gain traction as Buffalo aims to end their six-year playoff drought.
In the last blog I did a piece on college free agent Will Butcher after talking with his coach at the University of Denver, Jim Montgomery. Although Montgomery didn't have any information to divulge about where Butcher was leaning, he did give me plenty of information about the 2017 Hobey Baker-winning defenseman.
One of the many things that stood out while talking to Montgomery was his effort to recruit Butcher on to his Dubuque Fight Saints USHL club. Butcher had joined them for a two-game stint with Montgomery asking the 15 yr. old if he wanted to play out the season. The invitation was declined but Montgomery went on to say that Butcher played on the second powerplay unit for the Saints and "if he would have stayed on our team," said the coach, "he would have ended up on our first power play unit with Zemgus Girgensons and Johnny Gadreau."
That powerplay acumen was once again noted as Butcher's agent Steve Bartlett talked with Andrew Peters and Craig Rivet on The Instigators this afternoon. Bartlett said the "offensive-minded" Butcher had "great vision" and was recognized as the top NCAA player "based on being a powerplay quarterback and generating real good offense for the National Championship [Pioneers.]
"Teams look at him as a guy that potentially can be that powerplay quarterback or somebody that can really help them on the offensive side of the game."
Bartlett went on to hypothesize that there could be a team with eight defensemen on the roster but don't have one like Butcher, which would make for a good fit from their standpoint.
Montgomery was expected to talk with Butcher yesterday after the young man decompressed over the weekend and Bartlett said that the process may take a week or so. There's a lot going on for the 22 yr. old as he sets about laying out his future.
Will it be in Buffalo?