Olli Juolevi will be picked early Friday. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

NHL Draft prospect Olli Juolevi filled with confidence

BUFFALO – Ask Olli Juolevi a question about his talents, and the London Knights defenseman’s response might surprise you.

In an age in which elite athletes are often taught to give vague, vanilla answers, Juolevi has no problem saying what he really feels.

For example, Juolevi, even though he has some stiff competition from Jakob Chychrun and Mikhail Sergachev, recently said he expects to be the first defenseman chosen in Friday’s NHL Draft the ... Read the full article

Logan Brown enjoyed a huge second half in 2015-16. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

NHL Draft prospect Logan Brown transformed game quickly

BUFFALO – As fall turned to winter and Logan Brown kept struggling, the 6-foot-6 Windsor Spitfires center began searching for answers to his goal-scoring woes.

In his draft season, traditionally a breakout campaign for junior prospects, Brown had mustered only six goals by the 35-game mark.

“I believe he was humbled by his start, and when you get humbled like that, you look for help,” Windsor coach Rocky Thompson said.

Earlier in his career, Brown, ... Read the full article

Alex DeBrincat has scored 51 goals twice. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Otters star Alex DeBrincat could be NHL Draft steal

BUFFALO – Just two games into the Erie Otters’ season, with star centers Connor McDavid and Dylan Strome beginning their NHL careers, the junior hockey world learned Alex DeBrincat’s 51-goal rookie campaign wasn’t simply a creation of their dynamic playmaking abilities.

After scoring in the season opener, the 5-foot-7, 160-pound DeBrincat, the only established threat left in the Otters’ arsenal, scored a franchise-record five goals Oct. 1.

“I think that was definitely a time for ... Read the full article

Mikhail Sergachev could be the first defenseman drafted. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Draft prospect Mikhail Sergachev developed rapidly on, off ice

BUFFALO – Mikhail Sergachev walked into his first meeting at the recent NHL Combine, spotted 20 people in the room and immediately wondered what was about to transpire.

“I was like, ‘Oh my God, what’s going on?’” the Russian defenseman said about talking to the Sabres.

Other draft prospects have probably experienced similar thoughts interviewing with the Sabres. The team has quickly developed a reputation for asking youngsters challenging questions in a packed room.

Sergachev’s ... Read the full article

Griffin Luce used to battle his grandfather, Don, in video games. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Draft prospect Griffin Luce learned from grandfather Don

BUFFALO – Grandfather and grandson used to “butt heads a little bit,” Griffin Luce said. Growing up, the NHL Draft prospect learned firsthand why Don Luce, the respected Sabres Hall of Famer, enjoyed a successful 13-year NHL career.

“He used to take advantage when I was a little guy,” Griffin Luce, 18, said Saturday following fitness testing at the NHL Combine inside HarborCenter. “He’s just really competitive.”

Luce, a 6-foot-3, 214-pound defenseman set to attend ... Read the full article

Jakob Chychrun rides the bike during NHL Combine testing Saturday. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Top defense prospect Jakob Chychrun would be happy with Sabres

BUFFALO – Growing up in Boca Raton, Fla., Jakob Chychrun’s classmates and friends had little interest in hockey. The 90,000 residents of the Palm Beach County city, like most of the state, mostly focus their attention on football and other outdoor sports.

There was, however, one person Chychrun, a defenseman expected to be selected in the top 10 at the NHL Draft on June 24 in Buffalo, could share his love of hockey with: Kelly ... Read the full article

Auston Matthews received a lot of attention Friday. ©2016, Margaret Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Auston Matthews knows Buffalo won’t always be so welcoming

BUFFALO – This city, the site of the 2016 NHL Scouting Combine and Draft, will always hold a special place in Auston Matthews’ heart.

After the combine concludes today, hockey’s biggest prospect will return in three weeks, and barring a seismic, unexpected turn of events, the Toronto Maple Leafs will select Matthews No. 1 overall June 24 inside the First Niagara Center.

The pinnacle of his young career will always be tied to Buffalo.

The ... Read the full article

Callum Booth could be drafted high this weekend. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres could be interested in goalie prospect Callum Booth

BUFFALO – Until he was 9 years old, NHL Draft prospect Callum Booth was just a regular skater on his youth team. He idolized Tampa Bay Lightning center Vincent Lecavlier and loved the No. 4 his hero wore.

Then one day, tired of getting lit up, his team’s goalie “just gave up,” Booth recalled earlier this month at the NHL Scouting Combine. The coaches scrambled to find a replacement right before the playoffs. Booth was ... Read the full article

A.J. Greer rides an exercise bike Saturday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Draft prospect A.J. Greer wants teammate Jack Eichel to leave school early

BUFFALO – Like everyone in the Boston University program, NHL Draft prospect A.J. Greer would benefit greatly from another season with Jack Eichel, the phenom the Sabres will draft second overall June 26.

Eichel’s incredible talents ignited the Terriers, transforming them from an also-ran into a powerhouse that fell a goal short of the national title in April.

All season, as Eichel’s legend grew, youngsters like Greer – an 18-year-old winger NHL Central Scouting ranks ... Read the full article

Jack Eichel gets measured Saturday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Jack Eichel feels excitement from Sabres fans

BUFFALO – Jack Eichel still talks like it’s not a formality the Sabres will draft him. The 18-year-old says things like “if” he comes here.

Eichel, of course, knows the Sabres will take him second overall. He just doesn’t want to get ahead of himself. The draft is still three weeks away. Eichel’s just trying to enjoy the whole process.

Clearly, Eichel’s comfortable about joining the Sabres.

“Everyone around here’s pretty excited for the Sabres’ ... Read the full article