5 under-the-radar players to watch at Sabres development camp

5 under-the-radar players to watch at Sabres development camp
Posted at 4:36 PM, Jul 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-06 16:46:53-04

On Saturday the Buffalo Sabres annual development camp will begin at HARBORCENTER. The four-day event features 40 Sabres prospects who will look to showcase their skills in front of Sabres coaches and fans. It will be the first development with new GM Jason Botterill at the helm.

2017 first round pick Casy Mittelstadt, 2016 first round pick Alex Nylander and 2015 second round pick Brendan Guhle are among the notable players who will take the ice. Guhle and Nylander are two of the seven players invited to the camp who have played for the Sabres. The others are Justin Bailey, Nick Baptiste, Hudson Fasching, Sean Malone and CJ Smith.

The event is free and open to the public (all practices at HARBORCENTER) 

Sat., July 8 2 to 3:30 p.m. 4 to 5:30 p.m.

Sun., July 9 10 to 11:15 a.m. 2 to 3:15 p.m.

Mon., July 10 10:30 to 11:45 a.m. 1:45 to 3:00 p.m.

Tue., July 11 French Connection Tournament: 9:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Five 'under-the-radar' players to watch:

Cliff Pu
19-years-old, RW/C
2016-2017 stats: 63 games, 35G, 51A, 81P - London Knights, OHL

Selected with the 69th pick in the 2016 draft, Pu saw his production more than double the year after he was taken by the Sabres. Be warned, putting up big numbers in the OHL doesn't always translate into the NHL but last season Pu took a massive step in the right direction.

Will Borgen
20-years-old, Defenseman
2016-2017 stats: 33 games, 2G, 10A, 12P - St. Cloud State University, NCAA

Many scouts and analysts believe Will Borgen is the Sabres second best defensive prospect behind Guhle. Borgen is a big bodied defenseman who moves well with the puck on his stick.

In Borgen's rookie season at St. Cloud State he was named to the National Collegiate Hockey Conference all-rookie team. In his sophomore season (2016-2017) he didn't disappoint and showed that he's a prospect Sabres fans should be excited about. 

Rasmus Asplund
19-years-old, Center
2016-2017 stats: 39 games, 6G, 13A, 19P - Färjestad BK, Swedish Hockey League

While his numbers in the SHL don't jump off the page it's important to remember that Asplund is a 19-year-old kid playing against full grown men. Where he did shine, however, was in the 2017 IIHF Under 20 World Junior tournament, where Asplund averaged a point per game for Sweden.

Here's what Elite Hockey Prospects says about Asplund:

"An all-round two-way player. Asplund does most things really well and stands out with his smarts. Reads the game impressively, is responsible with the puck and is a strong passer. Handles the puck with confidence and does not shy away from the dirty work, although not a particularly physical player. Not overly spectacular, Asplund will still at times stand out with his speed and create scoring opportunities."

Asplund told Swedish newspaper New Folkblad last month that he would return to Sweden for another season.

Casey Fitzgerald
20-years-old, Defenseman
2016-2017 stats: 37 games played, 5G, 17A, 22P - Boston College, NCAA

Like Borgen, Fitzgerald is coming off an impressive sophomore season in the NCAA. Next year, Fitzgerald will serve as a captain at Boston College.

On top of his collegiate success, Fitzgerald is only months removed from a gold medal with Team USA at the 2017 IIHF Under 20 World Junior tournament. In the tournament, Fitzgerald logged big minutes while adding three assists.

Ukk-Pekka Luukkonen
18-years-old, Goaltender
2016-2017 stats: 35 games, 1.78 goals against average, .917 save percentage - UPK U20, Jr. A SM-liiga

Without question the best name on the development camp roster. A 2017 second round pick from the current Sabres regime, Luukonen will look to make a good first impression for the GM that drafted him two weeks ago.

Luukkonen boasts ideal size, standing at 6'4". A good camp could catapult him in front of some of the other goaltenders in the Sabres organization. As former Sabres GM Tim Murray showed, GM's usually love the goalies they've selected and developed.