BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - So close, yet so far. On Monday the Buffalo Sabres had a chance to win the 2017 Prospects Challenge tournament but fell in the title game to the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-3.
Five observations from the tournament:
Guhle makes statement
For my money, Brendan Guhle was the Sabres MVP during the Prospects Challenge and no one else was really close. That's not to say that other players didn't have impressive tournaments, Guhle was just stellar.
In three games Guhle scored two goals and added four assists. While the offensive numbers certainly jump off the page, his play in his own end was almost equally impressive.
"Look, you're always going to give young players opportunities," Sabres GM Jason Botterill was asked about the possibility of Guhle making the Sabres out of training camp. "Speed is a huge attribute out there and the way Phil [Housley] wants to play, I think meshes very well with Brendan."
Guhle still has an uphill battle to make the opening night roster after the Sabres offseason blue line makeover. That being said, every time he steps on the ice it seems like his chances get better and better.
Power play prowess
The Sabres combined for eight power play goals in their final two games of the tournament. That's absurd.
Unfortunately for the blue and gold, in those two contests, they only scored one even strength goal, and that was an empty-netter.
Nevertheless, Buffalo was dominant with the man advantage. Part of that is the play of the aforementioned Guhle, who helped quarterback the first unit from the point.
Big names showed up
What do Justin Bailey, Hudson Fasching, CJ Smith and Nick Baptiste have in common?
They all had very impressive weekends at the Prospects Challenge.
That should come as no surprise, considering all four have played in the NHL and are considered "veterans" compared to the other players featured in the tournament. It would've been a disappointment if the previously mentioned players didn't have a nice tournament but they all played well, making Sabres training camp that much more important.
Botterill wouldn't put a number on how many spots are available but a quick look at the Sabres depth chart would tell you there are only a handful of jobs up for grabs. Chances are one of these players will make the Sabres out of camp. Maybe two. Who gets the golden ticket remains a mystery.
That's the chant that filled HARBORCENTER multiple times each game as 2016 third round draft pick Cliff Pu touched the puck. All weekend he was impressive, finding his way onto the scoresheet several times. Pu centered the Sabres top line with Bailey and Smith on his wings. The 19-year-old fit right in, dishing out perfect pass after perfect pass.
His name is Jonas
If it wasn't for Sabres goaltender Jonas Johansson, Monday's game could have been a rout. Pittsburgh finished the evening with 50 shots, almost doubling the Sabres who recorded 26.
Most of the game was spent in the Sabres' zone. Pittsburgh controlled five-on-five play for almost the entire evening and found themselves on the power play on seven different occasions.
Johansson was impressive on Monday and in the Sabres first game on Friday. He'll be a fun player to watch develop over the next few years.