Buffalo - August 11, 2014 - We’re still about two months out from actual NHL hockey (the horror!), so there’s still a lot of time and boredom left to deal with.
As a Sabres fan, there isn’t a ton to look forward to even when the season starts. Instead, the eye is constantly towards the future. Everyone knows the Sabres aren’t winning any time soon, but the good part of being so bad is that they have a plethora of talented youngsters who will theoretically turn the Sabres into a Stanley Cup contender for many years to come.
We’ll take a look at the top prospects in the Sabres system and all of the dirty details on each, continuing today with another defensive prospect on the verge of making it to Buffalo for good: Mark Pysyk.
How we got him: Selected with the 23rd overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
Comparable Sabre of the Past: Jordan Leopold. Both are similar in size, but their games are very similar. Like Leopold, Pysyk is a quick, fluid skater with good offensive awareness and a solid head on his shoulders.
Unfortunately, he’s also similar to Leopold in the lack of a physical game and his need to get stronger. Hopefully, he can avoid the injury bug that bit Leopold at times and stay on the ice for the Sabres.
Why he may be awesome: He’s had two short stints in Buffalo (19 games in 2012-13, 44 games last year) and didn’t look out of place either time. In fact, last year, he looked very solid and showcased his strong skating ability on more than a few occasions.
Pysyk has good offensive ability and moves the puck very well, using his high hockey IQ to make the right decision most of the time. He’s not going to be a top-pair guy like Ristolainen or maybe even Zadorov, but he’ll be the solid top-four option who does a lot of things right and rarely leaves you screaming at your TV.
Why he may not be so great: Despite being 6’1”, Pysyk still gets pushed around a bit more than he should and definitely needs to get stronger. It shouldn’t drastically affect his game, but it’s something that will hold him back a bit.
Also of concern: injury history. He’d suffered a foot injury among other things during his time in junior, but he’s been relatively injury-free since making his pro debut. Staying on the ice will be imperative for him, so hopefully he’s shaken the injury bug.
Ceiling: Moderate-plus. As said above, he isn’t projected to become a top-pairing guy so he’s not quite on the same level as fellow prospects Ristolainen and Zadorov. At his best, he’s likely to be somewhere in the 30-40 point range as a solid overall defenseman that doesn’t blow you away.
With his skating ability and instincts, he could see some time on special teams which could bolster his overall numbers.
General excitement level: High. This was a moderate before he debuted, but he’s been very solid in his limited time in Buffalo, flashing his tremendous skating ability and more than holding his own in the defensive end. So long as he stays healthy, he should be a solid contributor for the Sabres.
What to expect: After dipping his toe into the water the last two years, he’s likely ready for his spot in the top six. With all the veterans added to the mix, there will only be one or two spots available for the youth, but Pysyk might be the most NHL-ready of the defensive prospects in the system.
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