Moving on From Joel Armia


When the Buffalo Sabres traded Joel Armia as part of the blockbuster that was the Evander Kane trade, they traded their best prospect on the right wing.  Armia was just starting to flourish with the AHL’s Rochester Americans and was even called up to the NHL for a game with the Sabres. However, the team may have found a solution within the organization for replacing the former first-round pick in Joel Armia.

Joel Armia had a substantial amount of promise and potential with the Sabres organization but now takes his talents to Winnipeg. The Sabres will not find one certain player that can fill the role as a top prospect in the right wing position. What they could use are two players to take over the right wing position when it comes to prospects.

Nicholas Baptiste and Justin Bailey are both currently having tremendous seasons with their respective OHL teams and are both in the hunt for an OHL championship. Baptiste with the Erie Otters and Bailey with the Sault Ste. Maire Greyhounds.

Both also had noteworthy regular seasons with struggling teams, Baptiste with the Sudbury Wolves and Bailey the Kitchener Rangers. They were traded to their current teams at the OHL trade deadline and have been key pieces to the success that those teams now have.

Both are also making it okay for Sabres fans to not worry about losing Joel Armia. Nick Baptiste has 4 goals and 4 assists in 8 playoff games. Justin Bailey has 6 goals and 4 assists in 7 playoff games. Nick Baptiste is always in the play when he is on the ice. Even in the defensive zone he has shown he can play a 200 foot game. Tim Murray was asked by The Hockey Writers what he thought of Baptiste’s game, and he was encouraged saying…

"I’ve seen a change in his game. I’ve seen a more complete player here.  He’s playing with better players and playing on a more competitive team.  I think that has gotten him excited again.  I believe that the (Erie Otters) are doing a great job with him here, playing a 200 foot game instead of an offensive zone only game.  So I am encouraged by his overall game, because we know in the National (Hockey) League, you can’t play unless you have a 200 foot game."

Baptiste is also playing on the power play and has done a fine job with the opportunity. He has 5 power play points in 9 games and has shown chemistry with 2015 draft eligibles Connor McDavid and Dylan Strome. He has also proved that he doesn’t need to play with the future superstar in McDavid, as he is very consistent on the second line, below McDavid, centered by Strome.

Bailey has time on the power play with the Greyhounds too. His 7 power play points are equally as impressive. Bailey is playing on the 3rd line with Speers (’15) and Dupuy (BUF) and is creating offense almost by himself. Bailey is hidden below players like Nick Ritchie, Darnell Nurse, Anthony DeAngelo, etc, which causes teams to forget about that threat on the 3rd line.

Both will play for the Rochester Americans next season, unless they can prove otherwise during training camp. This will give the two a chance to develop and get used to the professional game that the haven’t had a chance to experience yet. After the Amerks poor season this year, the addition of Nick Baptiste and Justin Bailey will make them a better team.

Don’t forget about Hudson Fasching either. He has been playing for the University of Minnesota as a Gopher for the past two years and will most likely return to school. The Sabres acquired him in a trade with the Los Angeles Kings.