LEWISTON, N.Y. - The logos on the sweaters may have all featured the Sabres logos, but when it comes time for the 2011 hockey season to begin, many of the Sabres top prospects in attendance at the team's developmental camp expect to be playing for the Amerks.
"I don't know too much about Rochester," Zack Kassian, the team's top prospect said after Tuesday's workout. "I hear it's a great city for hockey and that's exciting. It's good for the players to have Buffalo right in your backdoor, and I'm excited."
Fans should be excited to see Kassian. The Sabres top pick from 2009 spent the past two seasons with the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League and is a physical player that racked up 77 points this past season. His play in the OHL was good enough to warrant a call-up to Portland for the AHL playoffs.
On Tuesday Kassian skated on a line with Tyler Ennis (the only current Sabre at the workout) and Luke Adam, last year's AHL Rookie of the Year with the Portland Pirates.
"It's nice whenever you get to play with two guys with NHL experience, especially Ennis who's a special player," Kassian said. "It's exciting and fun playing with them, you just don't want to embarrass yourself playing with them," he laughed.
Along with Kassian, Marcus Foligno is another Sabres prospect who is expected to start the season with the Amerks. Foligno, the son of former Sabre Mike Foligno was taken by Buffalo in the fourth round of the 2009 draft.
"Rochester's pretty exciting news in Buffalo country," Foligno said. "I think everyone is excited and whether I'm in Rochester or Buffalo, I'm sure people will be excited either way and I'm looking forward to next year."
Perhaps none of the 41 players are as excited with the reunion of Buffalo and Rochester than goalie Connor Knapp, Buffalo's sixth round pick last year. Knapp, a York native played briefly at McQuaid high school in Rochester before leaving to play Juniors. Currently he has one year of eligibility remaining at Miami University in Ohio, where he's been one of the team's top goalies over the past three years.
Chances are slim that Knapp would end up with Rochester, but he's making no secret of the fact that he'd love to be sporting an Amerks sweater this year.
"Playing at home, it's every kids dream to get paid to play hockey, and to do it next to your friends and family would be awesome."