Tij Iginla goes through fitness testing June 8 at the NHL Scouting Combine in LECOM Harborcenter. ©2024, Micheline Veluvolu

NHL Draft: If Sabres don’t trade 11th pick, Tij Iginla could be strong choice

LAS VEGAS – As the son of a legend, 2024 NHL Draft prospect Tij Iginla deals with extra attention, expectations and pressure – at least from the outside.

Iginla’s father, Jarome, a former Calgary Flames star, scored 625 goals during his 20-year Hall of Fame career. The elder Iginla, who always seems to have a smile etched on his face, is regarded as one of hockey’s all-time good guys.

There’s a lot that accompanies being ... Read the full article

Max Plantes chats during fitness testing June 8 at the NHL Scouting Combine in LECOM Harborcenter. ©2024, Micheline Veluvolu

NHL Draft: Max Plante, son of ex-Sabres standout, possesses high hockey IQ

BUFFALO – In his first days in organized hockey, Max Plante showcased the IQ that makes him such an intriguing prospect for the 2024 NHL Draft.

Plante was just 4 or 5, yet he understood the sport so well he passed the puck to his teammates. At that age, if a kid gets the puck, they usually keep it. But Plante even distributed it around the net.

His father, Derek, a three-time 20-goal scorer for ... Read the full article

Cole Eiserman scored 58 goals in 57 games in 2023-24. ©2024, Rena Levarty, Team USA NTDP

NHL Draft: USA prospect Cole Eiserman could be intriguing choice for Sabres

BUFFALO – Nick Fohr, Cole Eiserman’s coach at the Team USA National Team Development Program, has tried to dissect what makes the 2024 NHL Draft prospect’s shot so lethal.

“Like, is it release? Is it just how hard it is?” Fohr wondered. “I don’t have a 100 percent answer to it, but I definitely think the pace that it comes off his stick is elite.”

Eiserman’s shot is so dynamic that at the recent World ... Read the full article

Berkly Catton (72) waits for fitness testing behind Michael Hage at the NHL Scouting Combine on June 8 in LECOM Harborcenter. ©2024, Micheline Veluvou

If Sabres don’t trade 11th pick, Berkly Catton could be strong draft choice

BUFFALO – Last year, Berkly Catton felt bored, so he got creative. The 2024 NHL Draft prospect found some wood and grabbed his old street hockey equipment to construct a rudimentary goalie in his backyard.

Catton, 18, placed it in front of a net and spent hours and hours honing his shot by pummeling the wonky creation – “It looks pretty real, actually,” he said – with pucks.

The Spokane Chiefs star said “it’s probably ... Read the full article

Artyom Levshunov goes through fitness testing Saturday at the NHL Scouting Combine in LECOM Harborcenter. ©2024, Micheline Veluvolu

NHL Draft: Rochester Amerks coach Michael Leone made impact on prospect Artyom Levshunov

BUFFALO – Two years ago, Artyom Levshunov arrived in the United States speaking little English. Today, the defenseman can comfortably hold court in front of a throng of reporters and cameras, joking and showcasing his personality.

At the NHL Scouting Combine, the affable Levshunov, 18, smoothly fielded questions, explaining his hockey journey from Belarus to the NHL Draft, where he could be selected as high as second overall June 28.

New Rochester Americans coach Mike ... Read the full article

Macklin Celebrini talks Friday at the NHL Scouting Combine in LECOM Harborcenter. ©2024, Micheline Velvuolu

NHL Draft: Macklin Celebrini staying in moment, not thinking about Sharks

BUFFALO – College hockey is a man’s game. Sure, there are plenty of teenagers, but of the 64 NCAA Division 1 teams, just one, Boston College, had an average age under 21, according to College Hockey News.

By any standard, Macklin Celebrini, the presumptive first overall pick by the San Jose Sharks at the NHL Draft on June 28, enjoyed a dynamic freshman season in 2023-24.

The ultra-talented center scored 32 goals and 64 ... Read the full article

Gabe Perreault has packed on weight over the past two years. ©2023, Micheline Veluvolu

Team USA star Gabe Perreault could be intriguing NHL Draft choice for Sabres

NASHVILLE – The genesis of NHL Draft prospect Gabe Perreault’s recording-breaking season for Team USA’s Under-18 squad began a year earlier.

In 2021, Perreault arrived in Plymouth, Michigan, a skinny 16-year-old. Dan Muse, his former coach at the National Team Development Program, said the high-scoring winger weighed just 130 or 140 pounds.

So Perreault took advantage of the resources the program offers and reshaped his body.... Read the full article

Gavin McCarthy (left) and Quentin Musty go through fitness testing June 10 at the NHL Scouting Combine. ©2023, Micheline Veluvolu

Buffalo-area prospects Gavin McCarthy, Quentin Musty grew up with Jr. Sabres, ready for NHL Draft

NASHVILLE – The last time Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams saw NHL Draft prospect Gavin McCarthy, he ran into him, of all places, on the bike path behind his house in Clarence.

Adams, having run the Jr. Sabres and Academy of Hockey at LECOM Harborcenter before being named GM, knows a lot of high-end local prospects like McCarthy and Hamburg native Quentin Musty, who could be a first-round pick Wednesday at Bridgestone Arena.

His ... Read the full article

Zach Benson goes through fitness testing June 10 at the NHL Scouting Combine. ©2023, Micheline Veluvolu

NHL Draft: Zach Benson, Matt Savoie’s center, could be strong pick for Sabres

BUFFALO – When the Winnipeg Ice reconvened to begin an abbreviated season in 2021, James Patrick figured Zach Benson would mostly practice with the junior team. If things went well, the coach hoped the diminutive 15-year-old might play about five games.

In the Western Hockey League, the 5-foot-5, 140-pound rookie winger would be facing opponents four or five years older and nearly a foot taller and 50 or 60 pounds heavier.

Patrick still laughs recalling ... Read the full article

Matthew Wood goes through fitness testing last Saturday at the NHL Scouting Combine. ©2023, Micheline Veluvolu

For NHL Draft prospect Matthew Wood, Sabres’ Tage Thompson a role model

BUFFALO – At first, Jamie Wood didn’t want his son, Matthew, to play college hockey at such a young age. Having played and coached in the NCAA, he understood the physicality and speed could overwhelm a 17-year-old fresh out of junior.

Besides a chance to attend UConn, Matthew Wood had other intriguing options to consider for the 2022-23 season.

The 6-foot-4, 193-pound forward could return to the Vernon Vipers and defend his British Columbia Hockey ... Read the full article