Housley liked what he saw over the weekend

The new head coach mentioned Justin Bailey and Brandan Guhle

Paul Hamilton
September 12, 2017 - 4:31 pm

Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - I had a great time doing the Sabres Prospects Tournament with Brian Duff and Pat Malacaro. It's a lot fun, but it also gives me a chance to see how the young players in the Sabres organization are progressing.

Unfortunately, Alex Nylander got hurt and only played one game. He did not play well and it was not a good first impression for Phil Housley and his staff, but you can't make any judgments on one game.

Justin Bailey was not the Sabres leading scorer in the tournament, but to me, he was far and away Buffalo's best player. Bailey has added quite a bit of muscle in his upper body and hasn't lost any speed at all with the extra weight.

He was on pucks constantly and using his size and strength to win battles. His speed got him to the battles first and he was always dangerous. Bailey had a shorthanded goal and a power play goal in the three games to go with one assist.

Almost any fan that wants to talk about the Sabres and college free agents has already considered C.J. Smith a bust. I don't know why because Smith only played two games last season, but many teams wanted to sign him. He started slow in the first period of the first game, but he really took off after that and finished with two goals and four assists for six points in the tournament.

Smith used his speed and awareness to make smart plays throughout.

That bring us to Brendan Guhle. New Jersey would not let him get going in game one and he appeared to get a little frustrated.

In the Boston game, he started behind his own net on a power play and really turned on the jets. After he gained the zone, he went cross-ice to Smith and never broke stride to the net. Smith sent a perfect pass right back to him and he tapped it in as he flashed by the crease. After that, the kid was on fire.  

Phil Housley was on WGR Sports Radio 550 on Tuesday joining The Instigators. Housley said, “Brendan Guhle is a terrific skater, his mobility is really incredible. I think his game got better each game, but his skating can be used defensively as well, closing gaps, getting stick on puck and being aggressive in that area.”

“He's got to mature a little bit, he's still young, but I like his gears, when the play's getting moved up, he can create that separation, two-three strides and he's ahead, already involved in the rush.”

I could see Housley taking a lot of notes during the three games. He said others impressed him, “I thought Justin Bailey had a real good tournament, I think his game grew. There's some other guys like C.J. Smith, Clifford Pu really made an impression on me so I'm looking forward to camp to see what those guys can do.”

Housley welcomes in his players on Thursday morning and he said they will all know what to expect from him, “I think you've got to set the tempo right out of the gate and make them hear your voice and what I expect from them and with the staff, they all have input and we're going to work together to get them to another level, but I just have got to be myself.”

“I'm very positive, that's one thing the guys are going to see this year. I want them to grow every day and enjoy coming to the rink. I think the guys will want to get better every day. We will hold players accountable, you have to draw that line.”

Many fans have been wondering what he wants to do when it comes to lines and the lineup. The new head coach said, “When you've got Jack and Ryan and maybe even Sam might play some center, that's starting right down the middle and that's a pretty good one, two, three punch, but we're going to move guys around and we're going to have guys that played wing, play center and guys that played center, play wing and this is going to be part of the evaluation process and we'll find that chemistry hopefully by that final exhibition game.”

The first preseason game is next Monday from the arena with Carolina coming in.

09-12 Sabres head coach Phil Housley joins The Instigators.mp3

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