Patrick Kaleta knows he has plenty of backers, people who want to see him earn a spot with the Sabres. He also knows there’s another group out there.
“People doubt me all the time,” Kaleta said Saturday. “I’m pretty sure I get people doubting me every single day, every single hour. Just look at my Twitter feed.”
Indeed, the messages Kaleta receives in the social media world can be described, in family-friendly terms, as passionate. That’s OK. The 29-year-old is a passionate guy himself, something Kaleta is eager to show Buffalo’s new coaching staff as he skates through training camp on a tryout basis.
“I’ve worked my whole summer for the opportunity to come here and make a team, and that’s my goal,” Kaleta said in First Niagara Center. “I was blessed for the chance and the opportunity. Now I’ve just got to make the most of the opportunity.”
Kaleta is confident he can secure a role in Buffalo. The unrestricted free agent turned down offers from other teams and elected to sign a minor-league contract with Rochester. The deal came with a professional tryout in Buffalo.
“My love for the Sabres and the organization and the city outweighed any other decisions,” Kaleta said. “When you have a Plan A, you’re focused and you’re determined to pursue that avenue. When you don’t focus on Plan A, Plan B and Plan C, you can really do what you need to do to get that Plan A.
“Buffalo, everyone knows, has been my Plan A since the day I was born.”
Unlike previous seasons, when it was a given the hard-charging right winger would don the Blue and Gold, Kaleta has an uphill battle. The Sabres are split into three groups, and he’s listed as the 11th of 11 forwards for Group B. The Sabres’ fourth line is penciled in as Nicolas Deslauriers, David Legwand and Marcus Foligno. Johan Larsson is in position to be the first extra.
Clearly, Kaleta has work to do. He’s doing his best to draw attention during the scrimmages. He had a goal and assist Friday. He sent defenseman Brycen Martin careening into the boards after a dump-in Saturday, a hit that quickly drew an interference penalty.
“Anything and everything that needs to be done I’m more than willing to do,” Kaleta said. “That’s not a real game out there, but in a sense it is, and a goal is a goal. I’m happy to show that I’m able to contribute in that manner. Today I was able to show that I can still hit, and I think that just adds to everything.
“Hopefully, when Oct. 6 or 7 rolls around, I’ll be here in whatever role that’s needed to help my team.”