When the Buffalo Sabres claimed Cory Conacher from the Ottawa Senators, he was promised time as a top-six forward.
He has gotten that time, and is making the most of it, as he seems to have developed instant chemistry with Drew Stafford and Tyler Ennis.
"I feel pretty good out there," Conacher said after last night's loss to the Nashville Predators. "It's pretty easy to play with those two guys. They're highly-skilled guys. They know how to control the puck, to possess the puck in the outside zone. My main goal is just to allow them to be a little more comfortable out there. Give them a little more space, be first on pucks, win battles in the corner, be in front of the net for rebounds and anything around the net."
Conacher has done just that, in just two games with the Sabres. Head coach Ted Nolan has done nothing but praise Conacher since he entered the Sabres lineup, and he says he feels right at home in Buffalo.
"I feel pretty comfortable here, going to Canisius here earlier on and just to be in the city. I know where everything is," Conacher said. "I have a lot of support from family and friends back home. It's only an hour away. The coaching staff and the management are giving me the opportunity to play here and I feel like I'm wanted here and they want me to succeed here and they're doing everything they can to do that. I'm trying to take advantage of that opportunity and hopefully I can build chemistry with these two guys and go into the summer on a positive note."
It's rare to see someone joining a team in such turmoil as the Sabres and be excited. However, Conacher is just that. He understands that the team is in a rebuilding mode at the moment, but he hopes to be a part of the team's long-term solution.
"It's clear that they're doing some type of rebuild," Conacher said. "We have some good leaders on this team and we have some young guys, so it's going to be important for us. This is basically, for a lot of the guys, it's more of a tryout. Who deserves to be in the lineup? Who deserves to be on the power play? Who deserves to be on the penalty-kill? Who deserves to be in the last two minutes of the game? They're looking at that. There's a lot of guys that are capable of stepping up on this team and with the leadership we have and the goaltending we have, I think we'll be alright."
The Sabres have had their attention pointed toward the future for most of the season. Conacher is a piece of the puzzle that could end up staying for the long haul. And if he continues to develop his chemistry with Ennis and Stafford, the Sabres could possibly have their No. 1 line in-tact sooner, rather than later.
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