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5 Observations: Day One of Buffalo Sabres training camp

Posted at 1:07 PM, Sep 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-14 13:07:12-04

Sabres hockey is officially back. On Friday the blue and gold opened training camp at HarborCenter with two separate practice sessions featuring the new additions from the offseason and the familiar faces from years past. 

5 Observations from Day 1 of training camp:

Still no Sam

To the surprise of no one, Sam Reinhart was not on the ice for the Sabres first practice of training camp. Reinhart is one of the final restricted free agents in the NHL without a deal and could choose not to skate until he's signed on the dotted line. 

Sabres GM Jason Botterill has said on multiple occasions he's confident the two sides will come to an agreement in the near future. Perhaps a deal happens soon or maybe we're still a few weeks away. At this point, it's a waiting game. 

Size matters

Friday morning was the first time I watched Patrik Berglund play since joining the Sabres. The first thing anyone will notice about the 30-year-old center is his size. He's massive. 

In the second session, Tage Thompson, another player acquired in the Ryan O'Reilly deal, towered over his teammates. While adding size to the roster wasn't something I thought needed to happen after last year, it's clear Botterill thought different. Conor Sheary is certainly an outlier but he's proven he can handle himself just fine at the NHL level. 

Humble pie 

Rasmus Dahlin just wants to make the team.


When asked if he had any expectations for his rookie season in comparison to some of the other players who have recently been draft with the first-overall pick, Dahlin said he needs to make the team before he thinks about the season. 

Skinner-Eichel getting early work 

When the Sabres acquired Jeff Skinner from the Carolina Hurricanes in the offseason it was obvious they'd at least see how he looked on a line with Jack Eichel. It didn't take long for Sabres head coach Phil Housley to give the duo a chance to show their stuff -- pairing the combination alongside Kyle Okposo on the "top" line of the first practice session. 

If you're into day one line combinations we've got you covered 

Skinner - Eichel - Okposo 
Sheary - Mittelstadt - Pominville
Nylander - Berglund - Bailey
Smith - Sobotka - Thompson
Olofsson - Larsson - Oglevie
Rodrigues - Asplund - Baptiste
Girgensons - Malone - O'Regan 
Wilson - Criscuolo - Cornel 

*Other players skates but these combinations were used for much of practice. They are in no particular order, these are just where I'd put them* 

Defensive depth 

When speaking with reporters after practice, veteran defender Jake McCabe said it best. 

"It's not even just Rasmus [Dahlin], it's the fact that we brought in these other guys like Lawrence [Pilut], Guhles [Guhle] and Nelson," McCabe said. "You go down the list and there are not just six guys competing for a spot, there are eight or nine guys.  It just pushes everyone to be better." 

While day one defensive pairings don't mean much -- this is how the "main" pairings looked on Friday:

Scandella - Ristolainen
Dahlin - McCabe
Beaulieu - Bogosian
Guhle - Nelson 

Pilut - Fedun 

*Hunwick did not skate due to an upper-body injury*

The aforementioned pairings might not be rock-solid but they are a heck of a lot better than what the Sabres have put on the ice in recent memory. 

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