NIAGARA FALLS — If Mark Pysyk doesn’t enter next week’s Buffalo Sabres developmental camp at Niagara University as the group’s best skater, he certainly won’t be fazed.
Pysyk, who the Sabres took with the 23rd pick in Friday’s National Hockey League Entry Draft, insists he isn’t even the best skater in his house.
“My sister (Nicole) is a better skater than me, so that might be why I kept going, to get better, because I couldn’t live with her being better,” Pysyk told NHL.com earlier this week.
The Sabres continued their recent trend of picking North American players, selecting Pysyk, who had been projected as high as the top 10 by some scouts.
Considered a steady defenseman, Pysyk stands 6-foot-1 and over 180 pounds. He played 48 games with the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League last season, scoring seven goals and adding 17 assists, but had his season cut short by a broken foot.
“He finished the season with a broken foot and a lot of scouts weren’t able to get a good grip on how good this player’s going to be in the NHL,” said E.J. McGuire, the NHL’s director of central scouting. “Smooth-skating, he has a neat knack for following up the play at the right time, leading the rush at the right time and throwing a crisp pass to one of his forwards to break out of his zone.”
Pysyk insisted he has plenty to improve upon before he reaches the NHL.
“I need to work on my shot and getting bigger, stronger, playing with a little bit more of an edge,” he said. “And also foot speed. Everybody can always work on that. You never really can be satisfied with any part of your game.”
Meanwhile, the Edmonton Oilers selected forward Taylor Hall with the No. 1 pick, finally ending a yearlong debate about the two best 18-year-old prospects in hockey.
The league-worst Oilers chose Hall over fellow OHL forward Tyler Seguin on Friday, making the toughest call at the top of a draft in several years.
“They’re such a great franchise with so much history behind them,” Hall said. “With the five (Stanley) Cups they won, it will mean a lot to me to join their organization and hopefully bring another one up there.”
While Hall will go to a rebuilding club, the playoff-tested Boston Bruins eagerly grabbed Seguin moments later with the No. 2 pick.
Many NHL scouts and executives couldn’t choose a favorite between Hall, a physical left wing from the Windsor Spitfires, and Seguin, a smooth-skating center from the Plymouth Whalers. Seguin was the league MVP last season, and Hall was the playoff MVP while leading the Spitfires to the Memorial Cup.
“I think everyone has their own opinion,” Seguin said. “We’ve seen it all year with whatever scouting service there may be. Edmonton decided to select Hall first overall, and good for him. He deserves it. And I’m happy to be a Bruin.”