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Sometimes in pro hockey it's all about going where the jobs are

Tyson Strachan said it's important to never burn bridges.

It's advice that's critical for professional hockey players who spend the bulk of their career on the shuttle between the NHL and the minor leagues.

But it's paid off for Strachan, who signed an AHL deal with the Rochester Americans, giving him a chance to return to the Buffalo Sabres organization.

"You kind of go where the jobs are," Strachan said. "I loved my year here. Buffalo’s a good city. I was happy to come back here and be a part of it."

Strachan played 46 games for the Sabres in the 2014-15 season. He signed as a free agent in the summer but suffered an ankle injury at the beginning of training camp. He skated with the team Friday morning was released from his tryout to clear the way for him to report to Rochester.

Last year the defenseman split time between the Minnesota Wild and their AHL affiliate in Iowa. This year he signed an AHL deal, although there is always the possibility it turns into a two-way deal should the Sabres decided they need him in the lineup.

"It's little bit different," Strachan said of signing an AHL deal, "but I think your mindset is still the same. You’re coming to work every day and anything can change. That’s been the story of my career. I’ve done that since day one -- come to work every day and do your best and at the end of the day you end up where you’re going to end up. All you can control is your play."

In his nine-year career the 31-year old Strachan has played in 186 NHL games and 343 AHL games.

Fellow blueliner Justin Falk understands that journey.

The defenseman signed a two-contract with the Sabres as a free agent this summer. He has 171 NHL games and 260 with the AHL.

Last year he  began the season with the Columbus Blue Jackets and thought he did enough to earn his spot. But in February the team put him on waivers and then assigned him to the Lake Erie Monsters in Cleveland.

That may have been a blessing in disguise as Falk was part of a Calder Cup-winning team.

"Obviously no guy wants to be sent down but the experiences I had for the rest of the year there, the playoff run and winning a championship, especially with the guys there,  I have some friends I’ll keep forever and the memories I’ll take from that. It helped heal a little bit the wounds of being sent down. I’ll say that," Falk said. "At whatever level or whatever you’re doing, championship teams are few and far between. It’s something I can keep and no one can take away."

* * *

Strachan was back skating with the team on Friday morning as they held morning skate in KeyBank Center before flying to Ottawa for the final preseason game.

Still out are forwards Ryan O'Reilly (back), Kyle Okposo (bruised knee), Dan Catenacci (hamstring) and Nicholas Baptiste (back) along with defensemen Zach Bogosian (groin) and Dmitry Kulikov (butt bruise.)

With seven preseason games in a two-week training camp, injuries seem destined to happen although Sabres coach Dan Bylsma wasn't certain the games were necessarily the issue.

"I don’t want nine preseason games," Bylsma said.

"I think it's not the number of games but we’ve played four in five and now three in four," Bylsma said. "The players are playing the exact same number of games as they would have if they were spaced out. We split up games one and two and three and four for most of the players but I know a few other teams are dealing with bumps and bruises and injuries right now as well. I don’t know if it has anything to do with," number of games. "I certainly would like one or two more practices in the camp versus stuffing all the games in a short period of time."

* * *

Among those with an opportunity because of injuries is defenseman Brendan Guhle. A second-round pick in 2015, he had 28 points in 63 games for the Prince Albert Raiders in the WHL last season. He has played well in the preseason and could earn a spot on the opening-night roster.

"At times he’s gone through times where he’s been inactive and not been using his ability, using his skating ability, in the game," Bylsma said. "But I think he’s shown quite a bit in digging in the last two games and played a very good, solid, hard second and third period in the last two games. It earned him one more game. We have a defensive situation with the injuries where he’s got a possibility right now of earning another game if he plays well tonight for us. That’s what he’s earned."


The Sabres  have loaned Cal O'Reilly and Taylor Fedun to Rochester, pending waivers, and recalled goalie Linus Ullmark Cal O’Reilly and defenseman Taylor Fedun have been loaned to the Rochester Americans (AHL) pending waivers.

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