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Sabres decline to sign three '10 draft picks

The Sabres have decided to part with three members of their 2010 draft class, sending the trio of forwards back into this year's pool of draft-eligible players.

Buffalo declined to offer contracts to center Steven Shipley and wingers Gregg Sutch and Cedrick Henley by Friday's deadline. The Sabres selected Shipley in the fourth round, Sutch in the fifth and Henley in the sixth.

All three skaters played in the Canadian junior leagues, which meant the Sabres had two years to sign them. They declined. All three can be selected by any team during the NHL draft being held June 22-23 in Pittsburgh.

Buffalo picked nine players in 2010 and has signed five: defensemen Mark Pysyk, Jerome Gauthier-Leduc and Matt MacKenzie, and forwards Kevin Sundher and Riley Boychuk. Seventh-round selection Christian Isackson, a freshman at the University of Minnesota, doesn't need to be signed until he completes his collegiate career.

Shipley, a 6-foot-3, 212-pound center, had the best numbers of the three players not signed. He recorded 22 goals and 27 assists in 63 games with Niagara of the Ontario Hockey League, and he added five goals and nine points in 20 playoff games. However, there have been questions about his compete level.

Sutch is the most well-known of the trio because of his off-the-ice triumphs. Born with a severe hearing disability, the 6-2, 201-pound grinder reads lips and uses hearing aids while skating. He battled through numerous injuries throughout his junior career. He finished with nine goals and 21 points in 57 games with Barrie of the OHL, then put up two goals, three points and 16 penalty minutes in 10 playoff games.

Henley, 6-5 and 196 pounds, had 13 goals and 39 points in 53 games with Val d'Or of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He also had one goal and two assists in four postseason appearances.

If they are not picked this month, the Sabres could elect to bring them to training camp in the fall as free agents. The last draft pick the Sabres chose not to sign was defenseman Jordon Southorn, a fourth-round selection in 2008.

The most infamous players sent back into the draft pool by Buffalo were Dennis Wideman (eighth round, 2002) and Mike Zigomanis (second round, 1999). Wideman was an All-Star for the Washington Capitals this season. Zigomanis is notable because he was released following a deadline/fax machine mistake with his contract.