By ALLAN MUIR
The rebuilding Buffalo Sabres are in for another rough ride next season, but days like today offer reassurance that better times lie ahead.
The team learned on Wednesday that five of its prospects will attend Team USA's World Junior summer evaluation camp in Lake Placid (Aug. 2-9), the most sent by any one NHL organization. Earning invites were defenseman Anthony Florentino (143rd overall, 2013) and forwards J.T. Compher (35th, '13), Connor Hurley (38th, '13), Hudson Fasching (138th, '13) and Sean Malone (159th, '13).
Phoenix (two) and Florida (two) were the only other teams with multiple prospects on the list.
The Americans have just one certain 2014 first rounder attending--power forward Michael McCarron is coming off a disappointing season with London (OHL) after being taken 25th overall last year by Montreal--but he likely won't be the only one by the time next weekend's draft plays out. The camp roster includes 17 players who are eligible for selection this year, including likely first rounders such as forwards Alex Tuch, Sonny Milano, Dylan Larkin, and Nick Schmaltz, plus blueliner Jack Dougherty. A pair of 2015 eligibles--forward Jack Eichel and defenseman Brandon Carlo--and Auston Matthews, a 16-year-old right wing who is eligible for the 2016 draft, will also attend.
Eichel, one of seven possible returnees from the 2014 team that finished a disappointing fifth after being knocked out in the WJC quarterfinals by Russia, is a lock to make the squad, but Carlo and Matthews are long shots.
Thatcher Demko didn't play a game last year as the team's third goalie, but he comes in as the favorite to earn the starter's role. He went 16-5-3 with a 2.24 GAA and .919 save percentage to help lead the Boston College Eagles to a berth in the Frozen Four. He'll be challenged by Alex Nedeljkovic and Brandon Halverson.
There are several familiar names headed to the camp, including Dominic Turgeon (son of former NHLer Pierre), Ryan MacInnis (son of Al) and Cole Cassels (son of Andrew).
You can find Team USA's complete summer evaluation camp roster here.