The Sabres will get their first on-ice look at Cody Hodgson today when they visit the Anaheim Ducks. Paperwork and a doctor's visit in Buffalo prohibited him from joining the team at practice Tuesday.
The Sabres' new center, acquired from Vancouver with defenseman Alexander Sulzer on Monday, had to fly from the West Coast to Buffalo to file immigration papers and undergo a physical. He completed that Tuesday morning and promptly flew back west to join his new teammates in California.
"He's got to go through the process of getting his P1 taken care of, his visa," Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier said. "It's an issue with the Americans traded to Canada, and Canadians traded to the U.S. Sometimes it can take 48 hours, it can take 72 hours. In this case, it was taken care of [Tuesday] morning.
"In addition, all the trades that we do are subject to physicals so that everyone is comfortable with the health of the player."
Though the Sabres didn't get to work out with Hodgson, two players already know what he brings. Forward Tyler Ennis and defenseman Tyler Myers played with the center on Canada's 2009 world junior team.
"If he plays anything like he did at the world juniors, he's a very good player," Myers said in the Ducks' practice rink.
Hodgson topped the tournament with 11 assists and 16 points.
"He was probably one of the best guys in the tournament and a huge reason why we won the gold medal," Ennis said. "He was just all-around skill, a really good passer, but he was good all over the place; D-zone, killed penalties and stuff. I just remember him dominating that tournament."
Lindy Ruff was still formulating a plan on where to play Hodgson. The coach's initial thought was to move Ennis back to left wing and use Hodgson in the middle with Drew Stafford.
"We'll see," Ruff said. "It'll shake itself out. We'll find something that will work, and we'll run with it."
Hulzer will start his career with Buffalo as a healthy scratch.
"Right now with the way our D has played, he'll sit in that seventh spot for us," Ruff said. "I don't know a lot about him. Just evaluate him through practice and we'll go from there."
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Zack Kassian is only 21 and has the potential to become an NHL stud. He's 6-foot-3, 228 pounds and averaged a point per game in the minors. Still, it seems Ruff wasn't quite sold on the right winger, who went to Vancouver along with defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani.
"I liked what he was doing on the offensive side of it for the most part," Ruff said. "Good puck protection and hanging onto pucks. I've got a curiosity on where his physical game is going to go, and that's it.
"But he's a young player. You never know with young players. It's a little bit of hit and miss. There's a lot of inconsistency usually, so in his case there's a lot there. It's whether he's going to get it to that full potential."
To fill Kassian's spot on the right side, the Sabres recalled Corey Tropp.
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The departure of Gragnani leaves Ennis without a roommate and, more importantly, a pingpong partner.
"I lived with Grags, so now I'm all by myself at home," Ennis said. "I guess I'll be playing pingpong against no one."
It was suggested Ennis ask Hodgson to move in.
"Maybe I'll have him over," Ennis said, "see how good he is at pingpong."