By Mike Harrington
Here's what's going through my mind after Tuesday night's Sabres development camp scrimmage:
Goaltending: Jhonas Enroth and Michal Neuvirth could very well be one-year stopgaps. Andrey Makarov and Linus Ullmark are coming quickly, with Ullmark looking very impressive. Jonas Johansson, picked by Tim Murray this year, is a classic big goalie Murray likes too. Makarov and Nathan Lieuwen will get most of the work in Rochester this year, with Amerks coach Chadd Cassidy revealing Matt Hackett's ACL injury suffered in April in Boston will keep him out until December or maybe January. Ouch.
Defense: Rasmus Ristolainen is a stud. Period. It seems absurd to think he'd start the season in Rochester but I realize the Sabres have a crowded blueline and are in rebuilding mode. It's so crowded that Nikita Zadorov, who hits everything that moves, is almost certainly going to have return to London of the OHL.
Up front: Most of the goals in the scrimmage were by undrafted free agents. The big names (Reinhart, Grigorenko, Girgensons, Armia etc) were held off the scoresheet. Reinhart showed sick hands at spots and Brendan Lemieux was pure sandpaper. Would have loved to hear his walkoff chirpfest with Ristolainen at the end of the second period. Lemieux is definitely a chip off Dad's old block. Nick Baptiste was a rising star last year in Sudbury and found the net in the third period.
The crowd: The Sabres announced 8,725, which seemed reasonable but I couldn't figure out since there were no tickets. Some folks on Twitter noted security types with clickers when fans were cleared through wanding in the pavilion gates but whatever. The number seemed close. Instead of sitting on the high end of the 100, many fans opted for center ice in the 300s when it was opened in the first period.
Great turnout overall. All the players were talking about it. If the Sabres ever got Connor McDavid, they would almost certainly have to distribute tickets next year.
Buffalo's Justin Bailey summed it up with this tweet:
Awesome atmosphere tonight!! That's why Buffalo is the best hockey city there is!
â Justin Bailey (@JustinBailey95) July 16, 2014
Click below to hear audio from Rochester coach Chadd Cassidy, who is running development camp, and several of the players:
Mikhail Grigorenko (pre-scrimmage)