The Buffalo Sabres continue to have major question marks at center, so No. 1 draft pick Dylan Cozens is going to get an even longer look in training camp. The Sabres announced Sunday they have trimmed 15 players from the roster in their initial cuts of coach Ralph Krueger's first camp – but the 18-year-old Cozens remains on the team.
The Sabres have assigned forward Arttu Ruotsalainen back to Ilves, his team in the Finnish League, and sent 14 others to the Rochester Amerks so they can open AHL training camp Monday.
Forward C.J. Smith and goaltender Andrew Hammond have been assigned to Rochester, provided they clear waivers. But it's far from a sure bet that the speedy Smith, who scored the empty-net goal in Saturday's 5-3 win against Toronto, will clear after he scored 28 goals for the Amerks last season.
Also sent to Rochester were forwards Eric Cornel, Sean Malone, Andrew Oglevie, Kyle Olson and Kevin Porter; defensemen Jacob Bryson, Casey Fitzgerald, Brandon Hickey, Zach Redmond and Devante Stephens; and goalies Michael Houser and Jonas Johansson.
The Sabres have used Cozens in three of their four preseason games, including both games of the weekend's back-to-back set against Toronto. He had a strong game Friday night in Scotiabank Arena, but with a much deeper Buffalo lineup Saturday, Cozens played only 8:32 of the rematch against the Leafs.
As a junior-eligible player, Cozens must either stay in the NHL or be sent back to Lethbridge of the Western League. He cannot be sent to Rochester.
Veteran Marcus Johansson was used at center Saturday, a spot he has rarely played the last eight years, and Krueger said after the game that experiment will continue this week.
The Sabres' roster stands at 36 players. Forward Scott Wilson is day to day with a lower-body injury. Defenseman Brandon Montour (hand) is out for the rest of camp and not expected to be ready for the start of the regular season. Defensemen Zach Bogosian (hip) and Lawrence Pilut (shoulder) and goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (hip) are rehabbing from surgeries and not participating in camp.
The Sabres were off Sunday and return to practice Monday in KeyBank Center. They have two exhibition games left, a home game Wednesday night against Columbus and Saturday's preseason finale in Pittsburgh. The regular season also starts in PPG Paints Arena against the Penguins on Oct. 3.