In just a few weeks the Buffalo Sabres will hit the ice at HARBORCENTER for training camp. This year it’s playoffs or bust for most fans; but is the roster talented enough for the Sabres to end its five year playoff drought?
As camp draws near, 7ABC will take a closer look at the training camp roster and put together our list of the “Top 20 Talents.”
Here’s the criteria on how the rankings will be established:
-Overall Skill Level
-Age, improving/declining ability
On to the countdown:
No. 20 – D Casey Nelson
Why he’s here:
It didn’t take long for Casey Nelson to start making an impact; last year, in only seven games, Nelson had four assists – immediately making a splash in the offensive zone. From a defensive standpoint Nelson was solid in his own end with only a few glaring mistakes. Nelson, coming out of college, was promised a spot on the Sabres NHL roster – similar to what the team did with Chad Ruhwedel a few years ago. In June the Sabres signed Nelson to a two year entry level contract worth $1.3M.
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) June 29, 2016
If Nelson can pick-up where he left off last season he’ll be able to compete for a roster spot, but that will be a tall task. You’d imagine the Sabres will keep seven defenseman on the team’s 23 man roster. Barring any surprises, that seven will include Ristolainen, McCabe, Kulikov, Gorges, Bogosian and Franson. Starting the year in Rochester could do a lot for Nelson but with an impressive camp he could end up on the Sabres opening night roster.
I think Nelson will start the year in Rochester and play a handful of games with the Sabres if someone gets injured. There’s a reason multiple teams wanted to sign Nelson after his junior year at Minnesota State Mankato – he’s got tons of potential. However, I still think Brendan Guhle has a better shot at making the opening night roster than Nelson. Injuries on the blue line could change everything, but for Nelson I think a regular spot in the NHL is a few years away.