by Ron Spence

If you could place Rick Rypien in Mike Funk’s body, you’d have Chris Pronger.

The newest nucks’ prospect has all of the skills:

funkcourtesy of sportsnet.ca

Funk played four seasons with the Portland Winterhawks, and was drafted in the 2nd round – 43rd overall – by the Buffalo Sabres in 2004.

Sabres.com included Funk’s central scouting report at the time of his draft:

“Michael is a big defenseman that can skate, stickhandle, and pass. The problem is that Funk’s skills haven’t always resulted in solid play consistently. He also doesn’t play as physical as most would like for a guy with his size. He’s a project, but he does have upside potential.”

During his three seasons since junior, Funk was called up for nine NHL games and notched two assists.


courtesy of hockeydb.com

Sabres Prospects wrote last October – after Funk had played two seasons in the Buffalo organization:

“Not yet a mark for the Sabres top-six, Funk has steadily grown into a support role with better decision making and a physical spike over his first two AHL seasons. The 22-year old, who has earned brief call-ups in each of his two campaigns, enters the final year of his contract looking to stabilize an inexperienced Pirate blueline with added strength and smart first passes. By continuing to make safe plays, the British Columbia native will remain in the mix and likely get tendered a qualifying offer next summer.”

Last season might have been Funk’s breakout year, but he missed the first nine games of the season after suffering his first concussion in training camp. Then he was cross checked from behind into the boards by Devils defenseman Anssi Salmela. This was his second concussion of the season and he didn’t return to hockey.

“I’ve been working out for the past two months,” Mike said a couple of days ago, “and I haven’t had any headaches in that time. I haven’t been knocked around or anything like that, but I probably won’t be doing that for another month yet anyway.”

He looks forward to attending Vancouver’s training camp.

Hockey’s Future wrote an update on Funk a month ago:

“Funk is considered a finesse defender and his game is based on his solid skating ability. He has a long, fluid stride that gives him above average speed, along with a knack for ducking opposing checkers. He exhibits an accurate shot from the point, and passes the puck extremely well. A sound positional defender, he often uses his reach to poke check and pressure opponents. Funk has been criticized for shrinking from the spotlight and failing to better utilize his excellent size.”

Sabres Fans added: “Funk has had some difficulty adapting to the pro game. Has to step it up several gears before any consideration of playing time on a NHL team.”

He just needs a little Rick Rypien in him.

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