Hickey excited to suit up in front of Phil Housley, weighs future with Sabres

Buffalo Sabres

From Calgary, to Arizona and now Buffalo, Brandon Hickey has made the rounds when it comes to player development camps in the National Hockey League.

Counting his four day stay with the Sabres, Hickey will be wrapping up his fifth development camp on Saturday.

“A little bit of a suitcase, but glad to be here,” the defenseman joked Thursday.

And, so is Sabres GM Jason Botterill who has mentioned Hickey as a player he’s excited to see move forward with the organization.

Hickey, who was a third-round pick by the Flames in 2014, spent all four years at Boston University – a calculated decision by the 22-year-old.

“I thought it was pretty important for me to stay for the four years. Playing for Coach (David) Quinn was unbelievable. He’s a really good defensive minded coach.  He does a good job with defenseman,” he said.  “You look at the ‘08-‘09 national championship team and all six ‘D’ that played on that team, played in the NHL.

He does an outstanding job. I wanted to develop my role a little bit. I didn’t want to be one of the three to four guys, I wanted to be a number one, two defenseman and take on a leadership role.”

And, this past season, Hickey received the highest honor for the Terriers, as he was named captain.

“You walk into the arena and you’re looked at a different way,” he said.  “I captained my 26 brothers and I wouldn’t have traded it for the world.”

But, after spending his entire collegiate career at BU, and then having his rights traded from the Coyotes to the Sabres, Hickey can become an unrestricted free agent if he and the Blue & Gold don’t agree to a contract by August 15.

While the blue liner admitted he’s not sure if he’ll sign when the contract period opens on July 1, he likes the idea of playing in Phil Housley’s system, growing with a young core and reuniting with several of his former BU teammates.

In fact, after he was traded wo weeks ago, Jack Eichel, Danny O’Regan and Evan Rodrigues all reached out to the D-man.

“It was nice to et welcomed like that. It’s really nice having good friends like that – makes the transition easy for me.”

Playing with the trio of forwards also made things a bit easier, too.

“They were unbelievable,” Hickey said of the O’Regan-Eichel-Rodrigues line for the Terriers.  “I don’t think I’ve ever played on a line as good as them. They all just bring different pieces to the table and complement each other so well and all think the game so quickly. It was kind of unfair when they were even matched up against the top D pairing. The stuff they did was special and I’m hoping they can do the same thing at the pro level.”

Eichel, who served as an alternate captain this past season, is a part of the youth movement the Sabres envision leading the team back to dominance and to regular playoff appearances.  Hickey likes the idea of joining a young group, too.

“When it’s a young core, there’s a lot of upside and an opportunity to make a difference,” he said.  “I think it’ll definitely have an impact on the decision.”

And as for suiting up for a hall of fame coach…

“I wanted to come in and show him what I’m made of,” Hickey said.  “I’m a mobile defenseman like him.  That’s definitely  something that’s cool to be in the same room and talk to someone like him.”

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