The Buffalo Sabres are finally ready to deal with player transactions after the four-month lockout threatened the entire season, and there are several transactions to deal with.
GM Darcy Regier said two players projected to start this season with the Sabres prelockout – center Cody Hodgson and winger Marcus Foligno – have already been pulled from the lineup of the Rochester Americans. Foligno has 10 goals and 27 assists in 33 games for the Amerks this season, while Hodgson has five goals and 14 assists in 19 games.
Another player who would have competed for NHL ice time this season, forward Corey Tropp, won't get the chance. He scored twice on one game for Rochester before injuring his upper body. He will be sidelined until next season. Defenseman T.J. Brennan – who leads the Amerks with 12 goals and 19 assists in 33 games – will be considered, but Regier said he has to clear waivers, which complicated the process.
Brennan is one of several Amerks blueliners – along with Brayden McNabb – who may not be able to get time with the Sabres. Buffalo's defensive corps is already slated to include Tyler Myers, Robyn Regehr, Alexander Sulzer, Jordon Leopold, Christian Ehrhoff, Mike Weber and Adam Pardy, who was acquired as part of the Steve Ott trade with Dallas in July. Regier said that depth has attracted the attention of several teams that have already called asking about possible trades. Nothing will happen immediately, though, due to uncertainty about the precise process once the CBA is finalized:
"I like our roster. I think if we can find a way to improve on it, we certainly will do it."
Among forwards, meanwhile, first-round draft pick Mikhail Grigorenko will join Buffalo for camp. He was returned to his junior club in Quebec and has 29 goals and 21 assists in 30 games; he also competed for Russia in the World Junior Championships earlier this month. Whether he will stay in the NHL is uncertain, but Regier said the skill he's added this season in juniors has benefited his development.
Training camp invitees will be limited more than during a full season, Regier said, but more attention will be paid to depth down the organization due the abbreviated schedule, which will likely result in the equivalent of about a game every other day. The Amerks may be incorporated into the abbreviated camp – slated to begin some time between Saturday, Jan. 12, and Monday, Jan. 14 – with an intrasquad game possible.
While the lockout was a waste in many regards, Regier said it allowed him to observe players in the AHL, juniors and overseas:
"It gives you added insight into the future I otherwise wouldn't have been able to see."
Coaches and trainers will work on methods to ensure proper conditioning given the "sprint" of a season set to kick off, he said.
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