His coach thinks he can develop into a dominant power forward.
To be sure, Bruno Bragagnolo, who coaches and manages the Soo Eagles of the North American Hockey League, feels as though Mike Sabatini has the tools to become the consummate power forward.
“He’s big, he’s tough, he’s a strong skater, he works hard, he plays well in traffic and he can put the puck in the net,” Bragagnolo said of Sabatini, a Detroit area product who turned 19-years old in January. “He just needs to work on his consistency.”
Sabatini, appearing on the Hockey North Show that I host on ESPN 1400 Radio, said he is embracing the power-forward role.
“It’s a role that suits me and it’s a position I am really working at,” said Sabatini, who leads the Eagles in scoring with 14 goals, 16 assists, 30 points while racking up 66 penalty minutes in 43 games thus far this NAHL season.
Now in his second NAHL season with the Eagles, Sabatini has made huge strides from his rookie 2012-2013 campaign in which he produced 5 goals, 12 assists, 17 points in 53 games while spending 98 minutes in the penalty box.
Sabatini was ranked by National Hockey League Central Scouting in 2012 and while he wasn’t selected at the 2013 draft, he has remained on the radar of a handful of scouts.
While Sabatini — who was an Ontario Hockey League draft pick of the Soo Greyhounds in 2011 — said it’s flattering to have his name linked to an NHL scout or two, he noted that he first wants to secure a Division 1, National Collegiate Athletic Association commitment.
While there have been Division 1, NCAA recruiters who have been following Sabatini, the 6-foot-1, 190 pound forward will get to further showcase his skills at the NAHL’s Top Prospects Tournament, which will be held February 17-18 in Troy, Michigan.
“We’ll see what happens after that,” Sabatini said simply. “Being selected for the Top Prospects Tournament is an honor and a great opportunity.”
Meantime, Sabatini’s focus is on trying to help the Eagles secure a playoff spot in the hotly-contested North Division of the NAHL where five of the six teams currently have winning records.
“It’s a battle,” Sabatini said of playing within the NAHL North. “Every game is like a playoff game. We have 16 games left (in the regular season) and every game really matters.”
(Photo by Mark Krupiarz.)