BUFFALO, N.Y. — Saturday was the second day on the ice at KeyBank Center for Sabres training camp, and when looking around it’s hard not to notice the new faces.
“I ultimately chose Buffalo just for the opportunity," said off-season addition Curtis Lazar. "I really like what the new head coach has brought in. (Head Coach) Ralph (Krueger) has done an outstanding job of at relaying the message to the players and implementing some tactics that allow us to play free but still be ourselves, and that’s a big thing just for myself is to just play to my strengths and make stuff happen.”
Lazar chose to be here, but Dylan Cozens did not. Not that he's complaining. The seventh overall pick in this past summer's draft is doing all he can to stick around into the regular season, but the road is much different for a player with remaining junior eligibility.
“I just have to go out and play my game. Don’t try too hard to impress and obviously I want to play in the NHL this year, but I have to earn it and I know that," Cozens said. "You have to take someone’s spot and I know that’s not going to be easy, but I know that I have to not try too hard to impress and just go out and play my game every night.”
Despite the additions, almost all of the players from last year’s team were brought back, so in reality the number of available spots could be quite limited. The team is clearly hoping the internal competition helps them find something they’ve recently lacked.
“We have a diverse group and a lot of different skill sets, and it’s good to see guys sticking to their own game and seeing where they fit," said Sam Reinhart, entering his sixth NHL season. "A guy like ‘Smitty’, C.J. (Smith), a guy like ‘Olie’ (Victor Olofsson), kind of see how they adapt and stick to their game because it’s just a matter of fitting them in really, because there’s a lot of competition and it’s only going to help everybody.”