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Sabres, Grant surprised when Predators claimed center

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Sabres waived Derek Grant to generate roster flexibility, not to send him to Rochester, and it was a surprise to both sides when Nashville claimed him this month.

Grant struggled through 35 games with Buffalo, recording no goals and three assists. So when the team waived him Jan. 10, it appeared he’d head to Rochester and continue what has been an impressive career in the American Hockey League.

He revealed Tuesday that General Manager Tim Murray told him that wasn’t the case.

“He said he wasn’t sending me down,” Grant said in Bridgestone Arena. “I came to the rink prepared to go on the road trip if I wasn’t picked up.”

Rather than join Buffalo on its flight to Tampa Bay, Grant headed to Nashville when the Predators claimed him.

“It was just a roster move and a possible opening up of the roster with the move,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. “The plan wasn’t necessarily for Derek to go to Rochester with the move. Unfortunately for us but fortunately for Derek, he got picked up by Nashville.”

The Sabres were in the midst of several transactions on the day of the waiver move. Johan Larsson went on injured reserve as Linus Ullmark came up from Rochester to replace ill Robin Lehner. William Carrier was healthy after the flu.

In the following days, Justin Bailey went to the Amerks, Cal O’Reilly came up and Tyler Ennis was activated from IR.

“It kind of came as a bit of a surprise to me,” Grant said. “It’s a long 24 hours when you’re waiting to hear. I was just on the ice for practice, and Tim called me over and said I was going to Nashville. I had to get off the ice and go pack up and come here.”

Grant has played six games for the Predators, but he will be a healthy scratch for the game against the Sabres.

He is still looking for his first NHL with 81 games played, though he thought he had it last Tuesday in Vancouver. He put the puck past goaltender Ryan Miller, but after the officials chatted about the net-front scrum, they determined the “intent to blow the whistle happened prior to the puck going in the net.”

No goal.

“It’s just the way the game goes sometimes,” Grant said. “You keep going to the net, and eventually one is going to go in. I’ll just keep doing that and wait for one of those bounces.”

 

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