At the start of many workdays since becoming the Buffalo Sabres’ director of player development, Matt Ellis receives an update on how the coronavirus pandemic is impacting hockey leagues around the globe.
Some Sabres prospects sat idle for weeks while their respective countries tried to control community spread of the virus. Many leagues have tentative start dates that have become a moving target – including the American Hockey League – and a few of the Sabres’ most notable young players face an uncertain development path in 2021, most notably Jack Quinn.
Quinn, whom the Sabres drafted with the No. 8 pick in the first round last month, was one of 47 players invited to Hockey Canada’s selection camp from Nov. 16 through Dec. 13 for the IIHF World Junior Championship. The tentative plan is for Quinn and Dylan Cozens to compete in the tournament, which runs Dec. 25 through Jan. 5, before both attend the Sabres’ training camp.
Unlike Cozens, though, Quinn is unlikely to make the NHL roster and his best development opportunity could be a return to the Ottawa 67’s of the Ontario Hockey League. The latter, though, is at the mercy of Ontario officials who continue to debate whether body checking should be allowed amid the pandemic.
Lisa MacLeod, Ontario’s sports minister, has said publicly there won’t be body checking. However, Doug Ford, Ontario’s premier, tweeted Oct. 31, “To date, no decisions have been made.”
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