NEW YORK – A couple reinforcements to the Buffalo Sabres’ roster could be coming from Rochester for the season’s final two games.
That was the word from coach Dan Bylsma late Saturday afternoon prior to the game against the New York Rangers in Madison Square Garden.
With the Amerks toast in the AHL playoff race with eight games left in their season, the Sabres may get some looks at players for the final two games of the season, Friday at home against Columbus and Saturday in Brooklyn against the New York Islanders.
Bylsma said the team is pondering “seeing something different” for those games. What could it mean?
For starters, goaltender Jason Kasdorf, who practiced with the team Friday and stayed home to keep working out, might get a start in one of those games.
As for Rochester call-ups, it stands to reason that Williamsville native Justin Bailey could be a candidate for another recall. Bailey played eight games without a point for the Sabres earlier this season. He entered Saturday with 17 goals and 23 assists in 62 games for the Amerks. Prospects like Nick Baptiste, Jean Dupuy and William Carrier are all looking for their first NHL call-ups and have had up-and-down seasons in Rochester.
Another possibility could be 25-year-old right winger Cole Schneider, the Williamsville native and St. Joe’s product the Sabres acquired in their seven-player AHL trade with Ottawa in late February. Schneider has two goals and eight assists in 13 games with Rochester, and had 17 goals this year in Binghamton. He averaged 22 goals a season the last three years for Binghamton as well.
Why bring up Schneider just for Friday and Saturday? According to the terms of the trade, the Sabres have to send Ottawa their seventh-round pick if he plays three NHL games this season. If he only plays two, there’s no extra compensation.
Center Eric O’Dell, also 25, has played 41 games over the last two years for Winnipeg. He has 23 goals and 45 points this year between Binghamton and Rochester, with five goals and eight points in 13 games for the Amerks.
Sabres defenseman Mark Pysyk has been the versatile member of the blue line corps. While the top two pairs (Josh Gorges-Rasmus Ristolainen/Jake McCabe-Zach Bogosian) have been together for months, Pysyk has funneled through multiple partners.
Now he’s with Casey Nelson, who played his fifth game out of Minnesota State. Pysyk said Nelson isn’t playing like a guy just out of college at all.
“I had no idea what to expect but everything has been good since he got here,” Pysyk said. “He’s been fun to play with, easy to play with and hopefully that continues.”
Pysyk spent much of the year with Mike Weber and then Carlo Colaiacovo. Moving to Nelson hasn’t been the big adjustment it seems.
“When you’re talking and getting a little bit more comfortable each day in practice, communicating a lot with your partner it’s all right,” he said. “It’s moved around a lot for me but it’s not too bad.”
The Sabres’ 7-4-4 record in March was a points percentage of .600, their best since they went 8-4-0 in April, 2013.
Buffalo went 4-7 in October, 6-5-2 in November, 5-7-2 in December, 5-7 in January and 5-5-3 in February.