BUFFALO, N.Y. - Following a disappointing 2011-2012 season, the Buffalo Sabres have revamped their roster through the draft, trades and free agency. Monday offered young players and rookie prospects their first opportunity to take the ice at First Niagara Center in the first day of the team's annual summer developmental camp.
Both 2012 first round draft picks, Mikhail Grigorenko and Zemgus Girgensons, were in attendance. The two centers were excited about their first skate with the organization and showed glimpses of why they were selected 12th and 14th overall in the draft.
Grigorenko made it clear that he is here for one reason and one reason only. When asked what his goals were for this year, his response was quite clear, "Just to make the NHL," he said. Monday was the first opportunity for Grigorenko to skate with players that have NHL experience. This was something that Grigorenko felt was an excellent experience, "It was really good to see how I can compete with them and they were actually really nice and they supported me a few times."
Girgensons' NHL desires are not quite as clear. Girgensons has been offered an opportunity to play NCAA Hockey at the University of Vermont. The question is will Girgensons elect to play at Vermont and further his education, or sign with the Sabres and likely play in the AHL next year? Girgensons says that he has yet to decide where he will be come next fall, "That's something I have to talk through this week and we'll see after." The center has talked over both scenarios quite a bit with those close to him, but says the decision ultimately will come from his heart.
Another center, Cody Hodgson, was also on hand at the developmental camp on Monday. Hodgson was acquired late last season in a trade with the Vancouver Canucks. Following the recent trade of center Derek Roy to Dallas, Hodgson figures to play a big role for the Sabres in this upcoming season. Hodgson says he plans to make the most of his opportunities in Buffalo, "I'm just happy to be here in a good situation in a real hockey market with all the great fans that pay attention to us all the time and give us a lot of support."
Left wing Marcus Foligno also made his presence felt at the camp on Monday. Foligno left his mark at the NHL level with the Sabres at the end of last season as he scored six goals and collected seven assists in just 14 games. Foligno will look to build upon his success at the end of last season and carry that into this upcoming season. Monday marked the start of Foligno's third camp with the Sabres, almost making him a seasoned veteran around the other young players. "I think when you get older you want to be a leader and it's certainly my job out here," Foligno said. "I just greet the guys and get them comfortable out here."
While there is a lot of uncertainty heading into next season, there seems to be a multitude of options for the Sabres to improve. The young Sabres will continue the developmental camp thru Thursday night when the camp will conclude with a Blue and Gold scrimmage game at First Niagara Center.