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It's five moves down and one to go for the Buffalo Sabres before Saturday's season opener.

The Sabres reduced their roster from 29 to 24 after Tuesday's practice when they assigned forwards Maxim Afinogenov and Matt Davidson, defenseman Mike Hurlbut and goalie Martin Biron to their American Hockey League farm team in Rochester.

In addition, defenseman Dennis Vial has not been offered a contract. The former Ottawa Senator tough guy was invited to training camp as a free agent.

That leaves the Sabres with at least one more roster move before Friday to reach the NHL limit of 23. The roster must be set at that time for Saturday's regular-season opener against the Red Wings in Detroit.

Afinogenov is the biggest name in the group sent to Rochester. The heralded winger demonstrated offensive skills during training camp, but coach Lindy Ruff has been critical of Afinogenov's ability and willingness to play in his system.

Since the Sabres still need to drop someone, players such as center Chris Taylor, right winger David Moravec and defensemen Jason Holland and Brian Campbell can't be certain they will be on the opening night roster. A change in the status of the team's four contract holdouts -- Miroslav Satan, Curtis Brown, Jay McKee and Rhett Warrener -- also could have roster repercussions.

Sabre practices often end with the entire team skating a few times around the ice.

Tuesday's session finished with Vaclav Varada skating across the width of the ice a few times while his teammates watched and enjoyed the show.

It was Varada's first practice with the team since signing a contract on Friday.

"He was 55 lengths and 80 laps behind everyone (in preseason skating), so we tried to start to even it up," Ruff said with a laugh.

"They wanted to see me skate," Varada said. "I'm tired after the long flight here but I'm ready to go."

Varada had been playing for a team in the Czech Republic and he doesn't think conditioning will be a problem.

"I was on the ice from Aug. 1," he said. "I'm in shape. I lost 10 pounds and I feel strong. Playing on that big ice surface (used by European teams) helps."

Varada missed about three weeks of training camp before signing a deal that could be worth about $2 million over the next three years. He said he has no regrets about holding out.

"I think we made the right decision. We knew the Sabres wanted to keep me here," he said.

Ruff said Varada would be in the lineup Saturday in Detroit.

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