Buffalo - August 13, 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 a prospect rising quickly up the ranks not only in the Sabres system but across the league: J.T. Compher.
How we got him: Selected in the second round with the 35th overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.
Comparable Sabre of the Past: Ric Seiling. Seiling earned his way in the NHL by doing everything well even though he wasn’t great at anything. He was a solid offensive threat (he had a 30 goal season in 1980-81) with a strong defensive game, making his bread and butter on the penalty kill. Compher projects to be a quality third-line presence, though his offensive skills have begun to emerge hinting at possibly more.
Why he may be awesome: A smart player with “great hockey sense”, he anticipates the play well and shows good awareness. He tends to get on the good side of his coaches thanks to his committed and tenacious, attacking style.
Offensively, he’s shown more and more, enjoying a breakout freshman year at the University of Michigan scoring 11 goals and 31 points in 35 games. He’ll get a much larger role as a sophomore, getting a chance to use his vision and strong playmaking skills in a much bigger way.
Compher is also a bit of an agitator, getting into the head of opponents and constantly yapping even after the whistle. Think a much more toned down Steve Ott.
Why he may not be so great: At 6’0”, Compher is not small but he isn’t going to bully anyone around in the mucky areas. A little bit of weight will go a long way towards helping Compher become strong enough to avoid bullying.
Compher’s solid skills might not ever necessarily translate to the top six. He’s showing more offensive ability of late, but it’s unclear if he’ll continue that when/if he makes the NHL level.
Ceiling: Moderate. He’s the type of guy you need to win a Stanley Cup, but not necessarily the guy you’ll give all the credit to. He plays hard through the whistle, gets in the faces of his opponents and is talented enough to hurt other teams offensively. He’s ramped up his profile of late, so he’s trending up right now.
General excitement level: Moderate. When the Sabres drafted him, he looked like a talent in need of some molding. He’s still got a ways to go, but his performance at Michigan has certainly opened some eyes and he stands to play an integral part for Team USA at the World Junior Championships.
What to expect: He’s still a few years away from taking a serious run at the lineup. At least another year at Michigan waits ahead and probably a year or two in the AHL with Rochester on top of that.
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