After three days away from the team on the road back from hip surgery, veteran defenseman Zach Bogosian returned to practice with the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday and fully took part in all drills at HarborCenter.
Bogosian, who had not been seen since practicing in the first two days of camp, revealed he has been skating on his own.
"Coming back from a major surgery, you're trying to check off all the boxes and I think it's just precautionary stuff," Bogosian said. "They had a plan in place to get me back to playing. There's certain stages you have go to through coming back from surgery even thought I got it a long time ago."
A real test Thursday for Bogosian came when players were engaged in a 2-on-2 scrimmage with both nets placed on a small parcel at one corner of the ice. There was plenty of hard contact.
"The battle drills are fun to get some bumps in when you haven't been in a battle in quite some time," said Bogosian, who said he didn't know if he would play in either game of this weekend's home-and-home series against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"He looked really good," said coach Phil Housley. "We'll have to evaluate after and see what the trainers and our doctors say but I thought he looked really good in the practices and the bump and grind of it, too. It was physical. Take caution with it and we'll monitor it every day."
General Manager Jason Botterill said he's hopeful that winger Conor Sheary (upper body) could be ready for the season opener Oct. 4 vs. Boston. Sheary was injured during the first two days of practice last weekend.
"It's disappointing that Conor can't partake in practice and get that chemistry with centermen out there," Botterill said of the two-time Stanley Cup champion. "But we're hopeful next week he can get back to the mix."
The news is not as good for defenseman Matt Hunwick (neck). Botterill classified his injury as longer term and has already ruled Hunwick out for the start of the season. Hunwick, acquired with Sheary from Pittsburgh, has yet to practice with the club.
The Maple Leafs announced their lineup for Friday night's game against the Sabres in Scotiabank Arena and big names slated to play include John Tavares, Mitch Marner, Nazem Kadri and Morgan Rielly. West Seneca native Chris Mueller, who won a Calder Cup last season for the Toronto Marlies, is also slated to be in the Toronto lineup.
Auston Matthews and former Sabre Tyler Ennis are not in Friday's lineup, meaning they're a good bet to play in Saturday's rematch at KeyBank Center. Ennis, who signed with the Leafs after his contract was bought out in Minnesota, had two goals in Wednesday's 4-1 win in Ottawa.
The Sabres are expected to field teams built in the same manner as they were for their first two exhibitions. That means many of their Rochester-bound players will form the roster for Friday's road game and most of the big Buffalo names – including Jack Eichel and Rasmus Dahlin – will meet the Leafs at home on Saturday.
Buffalo's nongame players will skate Friday at HarborCenter beginning at 9:15 a.m. The players in the game will have a morning skate at 10:30 in KeyBank Center before boarding the bus to Toronto. Both sessions are open to the public.
After the two games this weekend, the Sabres are off on Sunday and it's expected a large group of roster cuts will be made.
That's because the Rochester Amerks open their training camp Monday at Bill Gray’s Regional Iceplex on the campus of Monroe Community College. The Amerks have an exhibition game next Thursday night in HarborCenter against Toronto. Tickets for that game are $10 for the public and $5 for Sabres or Amerks season ticket holders.
The Sabres waived 2014 second-round pick Vaclav Karabacek and are terminating the forward's contract after he cleared. Karabacek, 22, never played in the NHL. He combined to play 61 games the last two years between Rochester and two ECHL clubs. The native of the Czech Republic did not score in 28 games in Cincinnati last season.
Botterill declined to go into details on the decision other than to say the contract was being terminated. Karabacek was not invited to development camp in June or the Prospects Challenge, a clear sign his days in the organization were numbered.
Karabacek was still on his entry-level deal, making $70,000 in the minors. He was taken 49th overall in what's considered a very down draft. Only three of the 30 players taken in the second round have played more than 25 NHL games, topped by the 156 games played by Arizona center Christian Dvorak.