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Analyzing each Sabres player who could contribute in 2019-20

Little is publicly known about what the Buffalo Sabres' roster and playing style will look like once they open the season Oct. 3 in Pittsburgh.

Ralph Krueger is entering his first training camp as an NHL head coach since his one year in Edmonton coincided with the lockout. He hasn't coached since the World Cup of Hockey in 2016, and it's fair to wonder how he will adapt to how the league has changed since he was with the Oilers in 2012-13.

Also, the Sabres added a number of players this offseason, including Marcus Johansson and Colin Miller, while losing only one full-time NHLer, Jason Pominville. Returning players could have new roles, young forwards have an opportunity to earn a roster spot, and lines and pairings are expected to change routinely, beginning with the first preseason game Sept. 16 against the Penguins at Penn State's Pegula Ice Arena.

"Well, I think we’ve shown in the past, it hasn’t been lip service, it’s been with our actions, that if players knock out veteran players, they’re going to have the opportunity to be here and that’s what we’re going to be looking for," General Manager Jason Botterill said following the Prospects Challenge. "We talked a lot about players coming into our organization, giving them an opportunity. We’ve talked a lot about our returning players, challenging them to be ready to go right away, because we want to bring more players in to have more success as an organization. I think the competition is going to be great in the next couple weeks and I think you probably hear it in Ralph’s voice, he’s excited about getting things going."

With that in mind, here is a look at each player who will compete in Sabres training camp:

Forwards (28)

Jack Eichel: Eichel, who is entering his second season as captain, experienced another breakthrough in 2018-19, recording career highs in goals (28), assists (54) and points (82) while playing 77 of 82 games.

Casey Mittelstadt: The Sabres likely will count on the 20-year-old center to fill a top-six role after he scored 12 goals among 25 points as a rookie last season.

Evan Rodrigues: A healthy scratch early last season, Rodrigues eventually proved he can be a reliable NHL player with a career-high nine goals and should fill a top-nine role either at center or wing under Krueger.

Johan Larsson: One of the Sabres' top players on the penalty kill, Larsson signed a one-year contract this offseason and should be considered the favorite to center the team's fourth line.

Vladimir Sobotka: One of three players acquired from St. Louis in the Ryan O'Reilly trade, Sobotka will compete for a roster spot after scoring only five goals in 69 games for the Sabres last season.

Jean-Sebastien Dea: Among one of the better prospects in the Pittsburgh Penguins' organization during Botterill's time there, Dea signed a one-year, one-way contract with the Sabres this offseason and will compete for a roster spot after appearing in 23 NHL games last season.

Curtis Lazar: The former first-round draft pick will compete for a roster spot at center or wing and appeared in only one NHL game for Calgary last season, scoring 20 goals among 41 points for the Flames' AHL affiliate in Stockton.

Dylan Cozens: Cozens, who was drafted seventh overall by the Sabres in June, will return to Lethbridge of the Western Hockey League if he is unable to prove he is ready to play in the NHL as an 18-year-old center.

Rasmus Asplund: A second-round draft pick in 2016, Asplund likely will spend a second consecutive season in Rochester, where the 21-year old scored 10 goals in 75 regular-season games.

Eric Cornel: Cornel, a second-round pick of the Sabres in 2014, is expected to return to Rochester for a fourth consecutive full season but will have to prove himself after signing an AHL contract with the Amerks this summer.

Jeff Skinner: The recipient of an eight-year, $72 million contract this offseason, Skinner scored a career-high 40 goals last season and likely will reunite with Eichel on the team's first line.

Marcus Johansson: One of the Sabres' top offseason acquisitions, Johansson likely will fill a top-six role at left wing or right wing and will try to build off an impressive playoff performance in which he scored four goals among 11 points in 22 games during Boston's run to the Stanley Cup Final.

Jimmy Vesey: The 26-year old should assume a top-nine role, likely at left wing, and should bolster the Sabres' play at 5-on-5, an area in which Vesey has scored 16 goals in each of the past two seasons.

Zemgus Girgensons: A former first-round draft pick, Girgensons' tenacity and success on the penalty kill should make him a favorite to earn a fourth-line role, despite the 25-year old scoring a career-low five goals last season.

Conor Sheary: The winger scored 14 goals during his first season in Buffalo and is a candidate to play alongside Eichel and Skinner on the Sabres' top line.

Scott Wilson: Wilson is part of a crowded competition at forward and will need to show Krueger that he is capable of producing the way he did during Pittsburgh's Stanley Cup run in 2017.

Arttu Ruotsalainen: A 5-foot-9 center, Ruotsalainen is among the more intriguing candidates for the roster after scoring 21 goals for Ilves of Finland's Liiga last season, though Ruotsalainen likely will need to make the Sabres if he is to remain in North America for the 2019-20 season.

C.J. Smith: Smith has scored 45 goals over the past two seasons and should be considered a legitimate contender to make the Sabres' roster, but his path could be blocked by veterans Larsson, Girgensons and Sobotka.

Remi Elie: The 24-year-old winger returned to the Sabres on a two-way contract and likely will start the season in Rochester.

Victor Olofsson: Olofsson scored 30 goals with the Amerks last season, his first year playing in North America, and should be ready to compete for a top-six role with the Sabres.

Sam Reinhart: Reinhart could be asked to drive play on the Sabres' second line, an important step in the 23-year old's development after he scored 22 goals among a career-high 65 points in 2018-19.

Kyle Okposo: Okposo will try to rediscover the scoring touch that landed him a seven-year, $42 million contract with the Sabres in July 2016, but the 31-year old has produced a total of 29 goals over the past two seasons.

Tage Thompson: The 21-year-old winger will try to make the roster out of camp for a second consecutive season. His first year with the Sabres resulted in seven goals among 12 points in 65 games prior to his demotion to Rochester in March.

Andrew Oglevie: The 24-year-old winger likely will return to Rochester after an injury-shortened season in which he scored five goals among 10 points in 28 games.

Sean Malone: Malone is expected to return to the Amerks for a third consecutive season after signing an AHL contract with the team this summer.

Kyle Olson: A 20-year-old forward drafted in the fourth round by Anaheim in 2017, Olson parlayed a strong performance at the Prospects Challenge into an invite to Sabres training camp and could potentially end up in Rochester this season.

Matej Pekar: A fan favorite during the Prospects Challenge, Pekar likely will return to Barrie of the Ontario Hockey League since a broken collarbone limited him to only 33 games there last season.

Kevin Porter: The Amerks' captain chose to return to Rochester for a third season and should center one of the team's top lines.

Defensemen (18)

Zach Bogosian: It is unclear if the right-shot defenseman will skate with the Sabres in training camp, and he is expected to miss the start of the season after undergoing hip surgery in April.

Rasmus Ristolainen: Despite being the subject of trade rumors throughout the offseason, Ristolainen appears set to return to the Sabres for a seventh season and may have a decreased role with the Sabres' offseason addition of Colin Miller.

Brandon Montour: Montour, who was acquired on the eve of last season's trade deadline and is a restricted free agent next summer, will have a prominent role with the Sabres under Krueger and has produced at least 32 points in each of the past two seasons.

Colin Miller: The 26-year-old right-shot defenseman was acquired in June from Vegas, where he played 26 playoff games over the past two seasons, including 20 in the Golden Knights' run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2018.

Casey Nelson: Nelson is entering the final year of his contract and, barring injury, should be the favorite to end camp as the team's No. 7 defenseman.

Will Borgen: The additions of Miller and Henri Jokiharju likely will delay Borgen's stay in the NHL but the 22-year-old should be among the first defensemen recalled from Rochester in the event of injury.

Rasmus Dahlin: The former first overall draft pick will try to top a historic rookie season in which he scored nine goals among 44 points in 82 games as an 18-year-old.

Jake McCabe: One of the team's top contributors on the penalty kill, McCabe was on pace for a career season offensively in 2018-19, but was limited to 59 games because of injury.

Marco Scandella: The Sabres hope that Scandella can rebound from an ugly season in which he contributed only 13 points and a minus-13 rating in 62 games.

John Gilmour: The intriguing free-agent signing will provide depth at left-shot defense and is coming off a season in which he scored 20 goals among 54 points in 70 games with Hartford, the New York Rangers' American Hockey League affiliate.

Jacob Bryson: A puck-moving, left-shot defenseman, Bryson signed his entry-level contract with the Sabres following Providence College's run to the Frozen Four in March and will spend this season developing in Rochester.

Henri Jokiharju: Acquired from Chicago in exchange for Alexander Nylander, Jokiharju will try to show Krueger why former Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville entrusted the 20-year-old defenseman to lead the team in 5-on-5 ice time during the first 15 games of last season.

Casey Fitzgerald: The Boston College product played four games with Rochester after signing his entry-level contract in March and likely will compete for a prominent role with the Amerks this fall.

Brandon Hickey: Another left-shot defenseman, Hickey should be among Rochester's top players on the blue line this season after he had a plus-12 rating in 38 games in 2018-19.

Lawrence Pilut: The 23-year old won't be able to participate in training camp while he recovers from shoulder surgery and is expected to be cleared to play in games sometime next month.

Zach Redmond: Redmond, who is 31 years old and on an AHL contract, will return to Rochester, where he broke the franchise record for goals (21) in a season.

Devante Stephens: The 22-year old will face tough competition when trying to earn a roster spot in Rochester, where he has played only seven games over the past two seasons.

Goaltenders (6)

Linus Ullmark: A former sixth-round draft pick, Ullmark signed a one-year contract this summer after he logged a .905 save percentage in 37 games and should compete for the starting job during training camp.

Carter Hutton: Hutton will compete against Ullmark for the starting job in goal after he posted a .908 save percentage in a career-high 50 games during his first season with the Sabres.

Andrew Hammond: The 31-year-old was signed this offseason to serve as the organization's No. 3 goalie behind Ullmark and Hutton, and has played 56 career NHL games, 55 of which came with the Ottawa Senators.

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen: One of hockey's top drafted goalie prospects, Luukkonen will not participate in on-ice workouts during training camp while he recovers from hip surgery, and he is expected to be ready to play in games in early November.

Jonas Johansson: An undisclosed lower-body injury cut Johansson's 2018-19 season short in Cincinnati. The 23-year old was outstanding for the Sabres during the Prospects Challenge.

Michael Houser: Houser had a .922 save percentage last season with Cincinnati and could spend time with Rochester until Luukkonen is ready to join the team.

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