2Posted by Scott Michalak on August 9, 2011 at 8:42 am
Mark Pysyk is taking a high road on his way to the NHL.
Pysyk will likely remain with the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings for the upcoming season. His birthday is 11 days shy of the cut-off point for AHL hockey, which means he would either have to play exclusively for Buffalo, or be returned to his Junior team after the NHL preseason. Sabres fans will remember Tyler Myers in a similar position in 2009. Myers was able the Sabres’ lineup, but with the current logjam of staunch defenders already entrenched along the Buffalo blue line, a real opportunity for Pysyk to stick with the big club just isn’t there.
Lost in all of the Hockey Canada world junior championship buzz is the fact that the Edmonton Oil Kings are actually hosting the event, which is good timing because the Western Hockey League club looks ready to turn the corner and become a legitimate contender.
This is Year 5 for the former expansion club, and the pieces are starting to fall into place.
“We’ve got 10 kids going to NHL camps,” said Oil Kings general managerBob Green.
The list includes captain Mark Pysyk (Buffalo Sabres), Keegan Lowe (Carolina Hurricanes), Michael St. Croix and T.J. Foster (New York Rangers), goalie Laurent Brossoit (Calgary Flames), Dylan Wruck (San Jose Sharks), Klarc Wilson (Winnipeg Jets) and Travis Ewanyk, Cam Abney, Kristians Pells and Martin Gernat (Edmonton Oilers).
Pysyk, who was at Hockey Canada’s summer development camp at Rexall Place as one of 17 defencemen auditioning for head coach Don Hay and assistants Ryan Huska and George Burnett, is the closest to being an NHLer. He’s a first-round draft pick and a mentor to Lowe, who was selected in the third round by the Hurricanes. They should have the first defence pairing.
“I think we can finish in the top four in our conference and compete for the league championship,” said Green, whose club has missed the playoffs twice and managed one round in the other two years, losing to the Calgary Hitmen and Red Deer Rebels.
With Pysyk leading the defense on a potential top-4 team, his experience in Edmonton this season should be developmentally golden.
Meanwhile, hopes for Team Canada in the upcoming World Junior Championships are also golden, with Pysyk just finishing up his audition to take part in one of the more talented groups that Canada has iced in the last 17 years. From Mike Morreale of NHL.com:
(Coach) Don Hay hopes the players chosen to represent Canada at the 2012 World Junior Championship are in some way similar to those he helped lead to a gold medal at the 1995 tournament in Red Deer, Alta.
“I think players need to skate hard and compete hard at a high level,” Hay said. “I’m looking for a high hockey IQ. It’s a short tournament and there’s really no time for teaching, so you have to play smart and pick up different aspects that the coaching staff throws at them. You want them to compete and execute, but we all know it comes down to winning.”
Pysyk taking on the highly-touted Ryan Nugent-Hopkins during scrimmage.
The years 1992 and 1993 produced a bumper crop of defencemen for Canada. Of the 17 invited to the national junior hockey team’s summer camp with week, 10 are first-round draft picks of NHL clubs. Even if one or two make the jump to the NHL this season, Canada’s strength at the 2012 world junior championship in Edmonton and Calgary will be its blue-line.
Eric Gudbranson of the Kingston Frontenacs, the lone returning defenceman from the 2011 junior team, was the third overall pick in last year’s NHL draft by Florida.
Nathan Beaulieu (Montreal), Brandon Gormley (Phoenix), Mark Pysyk (Buffalo), Doug Hamilton (Boston), Joe Morrow (Pittsburgh), Ryan Murphy (Carolina), Stuart Percy (Toronto), Duncan Siemens (Colorado) and Jamie Oleksiak (Dallas) are the other first-rounders.
Murray was Canada’s captain at the world under-18 championships this year in Germany, where the team finished fourth. Murphy, from Aurora, Ont., was his defensive partner and named the best player at that position by the International Ice Hockey Federation directorate.
Those two are safe bets to wear the Maple Leaf when Canada opens the tournament Dec. 26 versus Finland at Rexall Place. Murphy is just 18 and there is less room on Carolina’s roster for him since the club signed Tomas Kaberle as a free agent.
As we noted above, Buffalo’s defense corps is likely far too deep for the burgeoning Pysyk to make the Sabres, so he is in a similar position to Murphy regarding availability. Pysyk, who was cut from the team last season, is ready to make an impact statement for Team Canada now. From Fox Sports:
The 6-foot-1, 174-pound Pysyk has been paired mostly with 6-1, 182-pound Nathan Beaulieu of the Memorial Cup-winning Saint John Sea Dogs. Beaulieu was taken in the first round (No. 17) by the Montreal Canadiens in June.
“During the first game and half of another, I was a little bit cautious and just feeling out the waters,” Pysyk told NHL.com of last December’s camp. “This time, I can’t do that. This camp is way too short to feel out the competition, so you just have to go in, and right from Day 1, make a statement.”
The Captain of the Oil Kings is saying and doing all the right things as he continues to work his way into the Team Canada roster and on up to the NHL.
0Posted by Scott Michalak on August 8, 2011 at 7:40 am
Joel Armia, the Sabres #1 pick in 2011, has been busy.
Well, at least in Finland. As he preps for his second season for the Aces in the SM-liiga (the men’s “Finnish Championship” league), the 18 year old sniper is in for a big test. From Jatkoaika.com:
Aces attack has lost four players. The biggest loss is probably the team captain , Matti Kuparinen escape of Kuopio. In addition to him went to Tuomas Huhtanen lock, Tommi Huhtala, Blues, and Pasi Salonen, you ignorant. They place a heavy-handed goal machine was purchased Radek Smolenak , which is expected to maaliahnetta players, and from time to time in Rauma, Finland pledges raised Nico Aaltonen , who was still a couple of years ago the young team’s standard equipment.
Pori with certainty the composition of the side of defender Ryan Caldwell and attackers Joel Armia , and Patrick Yetman.
We’ll see how he does with even a bigger role on the Aces this season. Meanwhile, on a lighter note, MTV3.fi provided a quick profile on Armia, and what he likes to do in his spare time.
Watch out OTB, this kid likes to play the ponies.
“I’ve been to a couple of times a horse races in Pori. Kuninkuusravit event is of course just megapixel range, and nice to be here in a game with my friends… but it has not yet come to profits.”
“I have at least the coming season Ässissä. Self-service summer training ends this weekend. After starting workouts with the team. I have acquired in their training increases strength and agility, especially the legs. Next week we leave (for) the national team camp.”
Fox Sports did a quick piece on Finland’s National Team Camp. Armia will look to improve on this year’s World Junior Championship:
Armia, a 6-foot-3, 192-pound right wing, was taken by the Buffalo Sabres with the No. 16 pick of the 2011 Entry Draft after a strong season with Assat in the top Finnish league. He had 18 goals and 11 assists in 48 games while playing on the team’s top line. He had just 1 assists in six games at last year’s tournament.
The camp runs Aug. 6-13, at the Olympic Center, and will feature exhibition games between the United States, Sweden and Finland.
Finally from Ilta-Sanomat comes an article entitled “Leino, a Finnish Paint Gun wants to Buffalo – Buffalo Sabres’ Ville Leino hopes to soon be up beside a young Finnish paint gun.” (It’s safe to assume “paint gun” loosely translates to “sniper.”)
Leino planted in Buffalo in the central place of the attacker. Armia bangs again paints a winger, so the Sabres in the future may be seen as a real suomalaisduo.
“I hope he is seen, after one year there (in Assat),” Leino nods. “After all, it is a pretty good equation,” Leino, laughing, “places paints, then everything works. Buffalo Sabres begin next autumn term in Finland.”
Twice the Stanley Cup finals had Leino believes in good faith team championship opportunities. “That is what we strive to source. Next season is the next opportunity.”
In other words, Leino is looking forward to playing with Armia, acknowledging he’ll have to wait for a chance to do so for at least one more season. Meanwhile, Leino is anxious to win the Stanley Cup now, and then enjoy some fine paint gun time with Armia when he likely arrives in Buffalo for the 2012-13 season.
0Posted by Scott Michalak on August 6, 2011 at 10:41 am
To coin a phrase: I’m “Billspolar.”
This time of year, every year, I go crazy over our Buffalo Bills – and not in a good way. My mood swings up and down with each incoming news report that the Bills might sign a great RT, and then fail to do so. Things don’t go very well for the Bills during free agency. The draft has mostly been a disaster. The team has been off the NFL map for so long, that ESPN reported that one of the Bills’ key losses this season was James Hardy.
That's Matt Warren of "Buffalo Rumblings." Check out the blog. Good stuff.
If you forgot, Hardy was indeed cut by the Bills – in September of 2010. I’d like to blame ESPN for this lazy journalism, but really, the Bills have been so bad for so long that I can’t blame anyone for not paying them much attention.
I know – we’ve all been handed the line that Buddy Nix is rebuilding this team through the draft. We need to be patient. I respect his efforts, but I am done being patient. Here’s a dandy quote from “@TheCockfight” on Twitter:
So the Bills are planning on getting better by drafting and developing their own guys, huh? That frees up my Sep-Dec for a few more years.
And one more:
Don’t forget the 61% LOSING record over last 10 yrs.
We haven’t been in the playoffs since 1999. We haven’t hosted a playoff game in Orchard Park since December 28, 1996. There’s a good chance that some of you reading this weren’t even born by 1996. A whole generation of teenagers is walking around town without ever having felt the buzz in town when it’s playoff game day. That can’t be good for the future of the fan base, well, at least it would be in any other town.
A few beers usually helps get us through the games, too.
Just as I am Billspolar, the rest of the region is clinically insane about this team. Come game one of the regular season, I’ll put on one of my Bills jerseys (I have to choose between Lynch and McGahee), and cheer for every down like my life depended on it. This is what we do.
And on an aside, I was oh so close to snapping up one of those Posluszny jerseys at the Bills online store that were on sale for $20 during the lockout. Did the Bills store know something we didn’t? (It wouldn’t be the first stupidly weird conspiracy surrounding the team. In an “X-files” episode – coincidentally aired in 1996 – the “Cigarette Smoking Man” stated that the Bills would not win a Super Bowl while he lives. Someone put a hit on that bastard.)
Now, if that weird tangent tells you anything, it shows the how deeply this Billspolar sickness has gone. This is just not a good time of the year to be a Bills fan.
I just get through another offseason – I need to get to week one.
Billspolar or not, it is during the season that I return to the flock. I’ve painted myself up and attended away games in Jacksonville. I’ve written before how I was one of those folks who stayed seated at the stadium for “The Comeback.” (That, frankly, is a much better read than this – I highly recommend reading it after suffering this post. It will cheer you up.) And I’ve also written more recently how Terry Pegula and the Sabres have put Ralph Wilson and his Bills “on notice.” While we’re told to be patient, we’ve got an actual contender for a championship in this town right now. Guess which team that young generation of teenagers I just mentioned is going to spend their lawn-mowing money on?
And am I the only one whose favorite memory of Ralph Wilson stadium over the last ten plus years is attending the Winter Classic?