Its July 1st, and NHL unrestricted free agency begins today at Noon. General Managers across the league will start filling out their NHL rosters, and the more aggressive ones will also start targeting AHL free agents. Former Sabres GM Darcy Regier rarely jumped into minor league free agency too quickly, waiting for things to settle down before building the Amerks roster.
But Regier is no longer GM of the Sabres. That job has been handed over to Tim Murray.
What will Murray-styled Amerks look like? Here are some things we know, and some predictions on how things will proceed.
Well folks, tonight is the last night of the Amerks regular season.
In addition to “Fan Appreciation Night”, where the team will give away prizes to fans throughout the night, the Amerks will also present their annual Booster Club awards.
Here are my predictions for the winners.
Over the past couple of weeks, Amerks fans have been wondering, “Can Jake McCabe join the Amerks?”.
Then, after the Sabres season ended on Sunday, Amerks fans have continued to ask, “Why wasn’t Jake McCabe assigned to the Amerks?”
The Sabres never made an official announcement about the situation, but the question has been answered.
In what is normally a dream scenario for Amerks fans (at least for those who don’t care about hockey outside Rochester), the Buffalo Sabres season is over, they’ve missed the playoffs, and the Amerks have received back as much help as they can for an AHL playoff run.
Matt Hackett won’t play again this season following a knee injury that likely requires surgery.
Nathan Lieuwen’s return is questionable due to a concussion (at least his third).
Andrey Makarov will re-inherit the starting goaltending job until/unless Lieuwen comes back.
Connor Knapp will be the backup goaltender.
Jeff Deslauriers will add some scoring and toughness up front.
Chad Ruhwedel has begun skating, and may return from his concussion before the playoffs start. His two-way play is a big plus for Amerks D.
Rasmus Ristolainen brings his big reach back to the blueline, with some offensive flair and big hitting.
But most importantly, Mark Pysyk brings his quiet, steady play back to the defensive corps.
And Pysyk’s unremarkable play will be the key to this team’s success.
Earlier this morning, the Buffalo Sabres announced that Luke Adam, Brayden McNabb, and Mark Pysyk had been reassigned to the Amerks, and Chad Ruhwedel and Kevin Porter had been recalled to the Sabres.
Considering the direction that Lafontaine and Nolan seem to be taking the team, none of these moves are a huge surprise. They seem to be walking a fine line between adding team leadership, and evaluating talent.
After years of speculation, the Sabres and Amerks finally announced last March that an outdoor hockey game would finally be held in Rochester at Frontier Field.
In August, they announced that the date would be December 13th, 2013, and that the opponent would be the Lake Erie Monsters.
Finally, the day is here!
Here’s a primer for everything you need to know about tonight’s festivities.
When the Sabres made front office changes last week, President of Hockey Operations Pat LaFontaine and Interim Head Coach Ted Nolan indicated that they had a different blueprint for the Sabres this season.
The team was performing poorly. There was a question as to whether the top prospects in Buffalo would develop properly. And the fans were restless. The new regime needed to make changes.
On Tuesday, the Sabres announced several roster moves. Nikita Zadorov was sent back to his junior team, and Johan Larsson and Rasmus Ristolainen were sent down to the Amerks. These moves left the Sabres with the minimum 18 skaters for last night’s game against St. Louis.
This morning, the Sabres have announced the recalls of Luke Adam and Brayden McNabb from Rochester. These are the right moves for the future of the organization, but will hurt the Amerks.