It has been a summer full of new faces, surprises and salary cap calculations. The situation surrounding the Buffalo Sabres roster finally became clear on Monday afternoon.
After waiving Ales Kotalik and Shaone Morrisonn over the weekend, Buffalo was on their way to unloading the money they needed to get under the cap. Meanwhile, Darcy Regier also sent down the remaining batch of prospects and veterans who had been searching for a roster spot.
While the organization waited to see if Kotalik or Morrisonn were claimed, the roster in Rochester got the remaining pieces they will use this season. Only Luke Adam and Matt Ellis remained in Buffalo after the cuts. Paul Szczechura also is with the Sabres, but The Buffalo News reports that he is injured as hasn’t been skating.
So, Zack Kassian, Marcus Foligno and the rest of the Black Aces will work with Ron Rolston during the Americans camp this week as the big club counts down the days until they skip across the pond. With out the center they have skated with all of camp, expect the Bash Brothers to stay together while the rest of the Amerks line up is sorted out. Mike Ryan will provide some veteran scoring, while youngsters like Foligno, Kassian, Corey Tropp and Phil Varone all look to settle into effective roles with the team. Tropp and Varone had particularly successful offseasons, they could be in line to get some serious minutes for Rochester this season.
Defensively, the first off the farm will be a rock-paper-scissors match between T.J. Brennan, Dennis Persson and Drew Schiestel. They all have some professional hockey under their belt and will certainly see all situations this year. Meanwhile, look for Joe Finley to earn a minor-league deal and possibly force Corey Fienhage out of a job or to the ECHL. Not to be lost in the shuffle is Brayden McNabb. I would hope he sees at least 20 minutes per game as his game develops. There is a chance to cultivate a serious talent with this youngster, I expect to see him in the NHL in a short period of time.
Up with the big club, Adam and Ellis both sit in an interesting position. It appears that Adam will be seeing the minutes that Jochen Hecht has surrendered due to injury, seems like some concussion fears could be lingering with him. Meanwhile, Ellis likely has a lock on the 13th forward spot and will get plugged in by Lindy Ruff in the event of injuries or if they just feel like winning that night (#ellisprinciple).
If Hecht ends up being healthy, Adam will get sent back down. There is no benefit for him to sit in the press box and maybe get fourth line minutes when he could see serious time in every scenario for Rochester. Adam will get his time this season, probably 20+ games, but it will be next year when he gets the permanent promotion.
The Sabres have 25 still in camp with Szczechura and a third goalie in that mix. If I’m not mistaken they can bring the maximum of 25 bodies, plus a third goalie to Europe. Outside of Hecht being shelved on IR (retro to his injury), there is still one more move to be made to reach the magic number of 23.