Jay O’Brien underwent fitness testing Saturday. ©2018, Hickling Images

High school prospect Jay O’Brien could be intriguing option for Sabres

BUFFALO – Center Jay O’Brien’s decision to continue his burgeoning hockey career in high school was met with some skepticism.

After all, NHL Draft prospects enjoy the option of developing in top junior leagues. O’Brien could’ve spent his senior season playing in the United States Hockey League, a circuit known for producing NHL talent.... Read the full article

Timothy Liljegren worked out at the NHL Scouting Combine on June 3. ©2017, Hickling Images, Olean Times Herald

Sabres could land strong defense prospect at NHL Draft

BUFFALO – Thanks to his famous name and a 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame, NHL Draft prospect Callan Foote has eyes on him whenever he hits the ice.

Foote, 18, usually doesn’t disappoint, either. A defenseman like his father, two-time Stanley Cup winner Adam Foote, he can dominate a game when he utilizes his big body, NHL Central Scouting’s Dave Gregory said. The youngster also possesses a special ability to transition the puck, a key talent in ... Read the full article

Cale Makar participates in fitness testing at the NHL Scouting Combine on Saturday. ©2017, Hickling Images, Olean Times Herald

Slick defenseman Cale Makar attractive NHL Draft prospect for Sabres

BUFFALO – For NHL scouts, Cale Makar, the slick youngster who vaulted up draft boards earlier this year, has been a known talent for years. For fans, however, it might seem like the defenseman came out of nowhere to enjoy a dynamic 24-goal, 75-point season.

That, of course, can happen when you play in the Alberta Junior Hockey League.... Read the full article

Nolan Patrick participated in fitness testing at the NHL Scouting Combine today. ©2017, Hickling Images, Olean Times Herald

Top prospect Nolan Patrick grew up rooting for Sabres

BUFFALO – Growing up in Winnipeg, top prospect Nolan Patrick’s allegiance changed whenever his uncle, former NHL player and coach James Patrick, switched teams. So for most of his childhood, he rooted for the Sabres.

“Buffalo was my favorite team growing up,” Patrick said this afternoon following fitness testing at the NHL Scouting Combine inside HarborCenter. “I watched them a lot. It was mostly my favorite team just because he was coaching there, so I ... Read the full article

Casey Mittelstadt talks Friday. ©2017, Hickling Images, Olean Times Herald

Prospect Casey Mittelstadt took unusual path to NHL Draft

BUFFALO – For years, it was a family tradition. Dede and Tom Mittelstadt would take their son, Casey, out of school in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, so they could drive to St. Paul and watch the state high school hockey tournament.

For those unfamiliar with high school hockey’s wild popularity in Minnesota, the best comparison would probably be football in Texas. Almost 20,000 fans pack the Xcel Energy Center, home of the Minnesota Wild, to see ... Read the full article

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