In a relatively minor trade last week with Winnipeg, the Sabres acquired an intriguing prospect in 6-foot-4 Quinnipiac University winger Jordan Samuels-Thomas. On Saturday, they signed him to a one-year deal, and are clearly interested in giving him a chance to be a depth player in Buffalo or a key one in Rochester.
“I was excited because Buffalo is a great city,” Samuels-Thomas said Monday after making his Sabres debut in summer development camp. “I’ve been through here a couple times going back and forth to Canada and I was excited for a new opportunity with an organization that’s really serious about changing the culture.”
Samuels-Thomas had 17 goals and 29 points in 43 games two years ago as Quinnipiac advanced to the championship game of the NCAA Frozen Four before losing to Yale. He had 29 points in 34 games last season.
Already 24 years old and five years removed from being a seventh-round pick of the defunct Atlanta Thrashers, Samuels-Thomas knows his window of opportunity is small compared to the team’s bevy of much-younger prospects. But the Sabres have widely advertised they want to play a more “heavy” style and the 215-pounder can fit that mold.
“I’m a power forward and I need to keep the game simple,” he said. “That’s what I’ve learned in college. ... I developed that heavy style of play just being a forward that’s hard to move off the puck winning battles. That’s something that’s wanted here.”
Samuels-Thomas amused observers Monday when he referred to the Sabres’ coach and general manager as “Mr. Nolan” and “Mr. Murray.”
On GM Tim Murray and management, he said: “I know not just from him but everyone I’ve met here that they’re so serious and really passionate about changing things. The sincere passion has inspired me and excited me to give everything I have to earn a position.”
University of Minnesota winger Hudson Fasching, acquired from Los Angeles in March as part of a deal for Brayden McNabb, and University of Michigan center J.T. Compher are rivals during the college season but roommates during this camp.
That doesn’t mean the ribbing stops as Fasching said the pair is “always going at it.” Compher, a second-round pick last year, said Fasching pulled a Big 10 champions T-shirt out of his bag and began displaying it in celebration of Minnesota’s three wins over Michigan last season.
Said Compher: “I threw it on the ground and told him I didn’t want to see that out of his suitcase again.”
The Rochester staff of head coach Chadd Cassidy and assistants Chris Taylor, John Wroblewski and Bob Janosz ran the practices. Murray and Sabres coach Ted Nolan took in the workouts from the stands.
Murray got some applause from the fans as he headed into the dressing room tunnel when the first workout ended.
The Sabres have announced they will live-stream tonight’s scrimmage at Sabres.com with Dan Dunleavy and Rob Ray calling the game and Brian Duff doing intermission interviews. There will be three 20-minute periods with stopped time. There is no admission charge and parking will be free in the arena ramp. Doors open at 6 p.m. The public can also watch today’s game-day practices, which start at 10:15 a.m. and run until about 12:45 p.m.