Quinn, No. 8 pick in 2020 Draft, to make NHL debut for Sabres

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Jack Quinn will make his NHL debut for the Buffalo Sabres when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; SNE, SNO, TVAS, MSG-B, BSSUN, ESPN+, NHL LIVE).

The forward was the No. 8 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft after he scored 52 goals and 89 points in 62 games with Ottawa of the Ontario Hockey League in 2019-20.

“It’s pretty cool, it’s very exciting,” Quinn said. “I’m just looking forward to tomorrow.”

Quinn was recalled from Rochester of the American Hockey League on Monday, where he’s scored 26 points (12 goals, 14 assists) in 20 games and is second among AHL rookies in goals and points.

He made his professional debut with Rochester last season and scored nine points (two goals, seven assists) in 15 AHL games.

“I’m excited for him because he’s done so well in the American Hockey League that there’s a lot of things in the American Hockey League that are just easy for him now after gaining experience a year ago and building on it,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “And I think he’s ready for this next new challenge, the timing’s right for him. Again, he’s producing at a rate he certainly wasn’t a year ago, and it’s gotten a lot easier for him there. And it’s still work for him, but it’s gotten a lot easier. Obviously his statistics prove that.”

While disappointed when he was assigned to the AHL late in training camp, Quinn said he knew it was an opportunity to show what he can do. 

“I think no matter what the stats show, there’s always parts of your game you can keep working on,” he said. “I think the stats are a good reflector of how you’re playing or where you’re at in that league and what kind of player you are. But no matter what they are, there’s always different points of your game you can attack, so just continuing to find those and keep improving on them no matter how many points I’m getting or not getting.”

Granato said he’s impressed by the maturty the 20-year-old has shown.

“He just has that feel and that’s why he’s been able to accelerate his progress and development,” Granato said. “You come into pro hockey and you’ve never experienced it, but he can internalize that faster and more rapidly to apply and adapt, and that’s what you’ve seen in the [AHL]. … He has a maturity to him that’s pretty special from the players I’ve seen at any age.”

Quinn scored two points (one goal, one assist) in three games after rejoining Rochester Jan. 5 after missing nine games recovering from mononucleosis.

He will make his NHL debut against elite competition. The Lightning are tied with the Florida Panthers for first in the NHL and have won the Stanley Cup the past two seasons.

“It’s a bonus to me for him to play a top, top team,” Granato said. “We can talk about it, go through film with him, but to immerse in the experience of it is how you gain experience and that’s going to be the hindsight. So you go into these situations with no hindsight until you actually go through them. So for him to get in a game like this is great.”

Quinn skated on a line with Dylan Cozens and Vinnie Hinostroza at practice Monday. Quinn and Cozens played together during the preseason and when they helped Canada finish second at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship.

“It’s great,” Quinn said of playing with Cozens. “Obviously we’re pretty good friends and played together before, some games in camp this year, World Juniors a bit, so there’s just some chemistry, which makes it a lot easier.”

Said Cozens: “I’m excited for him. Obviously it was tough when all the other guys got called up, he was sick. I know he was dying to be up here so it’s exciting to see and I’m happy for him that he’s up here and get that chance.”

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