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Buffalo Sabres prospect Bloom adds to Battalion offensive corps

'Me and Braydon couldn’t be more excited to be here. Adam Dennis is creating something really special here and we’re so excited to be a part of it.'

It might have been a bit of a risk when the Buffalo Sabres drafted Josh Bloom in the third round of the 2021 NHL entry draft.  

“I hadn’t played a game all season (due to the COVID-19 pandemic) so I had no idea where I was going to go in the draft, it was a bit of a question mark,” says Bloom.  

As a 16-year-old, the Oakville, Ontario native produced a decent first-year season in Ontario Hockey League with six goals and 14 points in 54 games before the league was shut down in March.  

Bloom then went into the following summer's draft without getting another OHL game under his belt, but that didn’t stop teams from being intrigued by what the 6’02” left-shot winger could bring to their club.  

“I was talking to everyone before the draft," admitted Bloom.  

"Buffalo did their homework really hard and well and we were talking quite a bit, so I had a feeling it could be Buffalo and I’m really glad it was. Buffalo took a chance on me and I’d like to think that it’s working out pretty well so far.” 

Bloom has blossomed over the last two years in Saginaw, recording 77 points, (37 of those goals) through 86 games played for the Spirit before a deal was reached to send him to North Bay, along with good friend and teammate Braydon Hislop, in exchange for Nic Sima, Cam Gauvreau and some draft picks.  

It’s some heavy lifting being done by North Bay General Manager Adam Dennis in a relatively early portion of the season – however as far as the Battalion is concerned this keeps them out of a bidding war down the road where the price might’ve been much steeper for two players as talented as Bloom and Hislop.  

“Me and Braydon couldn’t be more excited to be here,” says Bloom. “Adam Dennis is creating something really special here and we’re so excited to be a part of it.” 

And the Battalion should be excited to welcome in two players with qualities every team is looking for both on and off the ice. Bloom was the Captain of Saginaw, Hislop an alternate captain.   

“It was a four-year process to becoming a Captain, they groomed me in to that in Saginaw and I’m thankful for that every day,” says Bloom. “They turned me into a leader and my teammates help me become that leader. That being said, there’s six assistant captains in this room, we’ve got a ton of leaders. I know (Head Coach Ryan Oulahen) Ouly couldn’t decide who to put it on because we have a ton of guys who have that voice. That’s super exciting to step into, knowing that there are leaders in this room and I hope I can bring some of that leadership in myself.” 

If it's leadership through experience the Battalion was looking for, Bloom checks off those boxes having spent time at Sabres camp, and getting to spend some time with the Rochester Americans last year as well.  

“Going to play at their camp was great with guys like Tage Thompson, Jack Quinn, and JJ Peterka, the list goes on, but at the same time getting to end my season in Rochester in the American Hockey League, that really helped me take steps as a player and with my day-to-day routines. I think that’s transitioning into my game really well this season and will hopefully carry me through to one day being a pro hockey player.” 

Bloom describes himself as a 200-foot player that likes to play the game fast, which fits in to Oulahen’s game plan.  

“As soon as I got here, that was the first thing that Ouly said to me was that ‘we play fast’ so I think our styles match up perfectly,” he says. 

That style paid off in his first game at Memorial Gardens as he scored a goal on a two-on-one play when he jumped onto a line with first-year forward Ethan Procyszyn, who set him up for a point-blank chance that he did not miss.  

“The puck came over to me and I wanted so bad to give it back to him, but the defenseman just took the lane away completely, so I knew I had to take a shot and I was lucky enough to beat the goaltender,” he says. 

“Showing up here on the first day and seeing how easy it was to play with this system and these players, it has just felt like a seamless transition. Playing with Kyle Jackson and Justin Ertl, they made my life really easy in that first game. Me and Braydon were just talking about how much fun we’re going to have here. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for this organization.” 

And while Bloom adds the list of NHL prospects on this North Bay team, he believes the real jewel of this trade was in acquiring his friend and roommate Hislop. 

“I told Adam Dennis that Braydon is actually the best part of this deal. I said to him that you are getting a real competitor and a real winner and he’s a hell of a player and a hell of a person and that’s the kind of people you’re getting to play here in this organization. You can feel that,” says Bloom.  

Getting players of this calibre to play in North Bay for the Battalion was not always an easy task, but the way Dennis has managed to craft this roster together has been nothing short of brilliant.  

Whether it is convincing players like first overall pick Tye Nelson to report, bringing Dallas Stars prospect Justin Ertl, drafted by the previous front office but never committed to the team, to come to North Bay or adding someone of Bloom's quality of character to want to make the move north, Dennis and the hockey operations, along with the coaching staff have made this team a convincing landing spot for any OHLer.   

“Buffalo has been so supportive in this situation and they are so excited for me to be in North Bay and playing this style,” says Bloom.

“I can’t say enough good things about Buffalo and about North Bay, I’m just in a really good position right now as a player and a person, I’m excited.” 

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Matt Sookram

About the Author: Matt Sookram

Matthew Sookram is a Canadore College graduate. He has lived and worked in North Bay since 2009 covering different beats; everything from City Council to North Bay Battalion.
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