Hours before the news broke that coach Lindy Ruff had been fired, the Buffalo Sabres began to tinker with their roster Wednesday by placing forward Cody McCormick on waivers and calling up center Kevin Porter from Rochester. Porter is expected to be in the lineup tonight in Toronto.
Porter, 26, was signed as a free agent from the Colorado Avalanche last July and had been serving as the Amerks’ captain. He led the Amerks in scoring with 44 points (15 goals, 29 assists) in 48 games and had a team-high rating of plus-8.
Porter has played the last three years in Colorado, with his best year coming in 2010-11 (14 goals, 11 assists in 74 games). He had just seven points in 35 games for the Avalanche last year.
General Manager Darcy Regier said Porter has been performing well in Rochester.
“He plays center ice,” Regier said. “He’s a true center man. He’s got good speed, he plays hard and he’s someone we think can help us in the third- and fourth-line roles.”
Porter is 5-feet-11, 194 pounds. A former standout at the University of Michigan, he won the Hobey Baker Award as college hockey’s top player in 2008 by beating out Boston College’s Nathan Gerbe, his new Buffalo teammate.
Porter will make a pro-rated $525,000 on the NHL portion of his deal. He is also signed for next year at $550,000. McCormick was making $1.2 million this year and is signed for next year at $1 million; the Sabres could send him to Rochester if he clears waivers today.
McCormick was on the ice at practice before getting pulled off and being told he had been waived. He left the building before the workout ended and was unavailable for comment.
McCormick had no points in eight games this year after a severe finger problem kept him out of the first eight games. He became expendable when the Sabres signed John Scott in July.
McCormick gave the Sabres eight goals, 20 points and 142 penalty minutes two years ago after being acquired from Colorado to replace Andrew Peters as the team’s resident tough guy but hasn’t approached those totals since as he’s battled injuries.
Center Tyler Ennis and defenseman Christian Ehrhoff missed practice Wednesday with Ruff, in the final injury updates of his Buffalo career, saying they were both simply sitting out for “maintenance” and should play tonight.
Rookie Mikhail Grigorenko took Ennis’ spot on the second line. It will be interesting to see what interim coach Ron Rolston does at today’s morning skate with Grigorenko as the team’s No. 1 draft pick has been a scratch the last two games.
Grigorenko could return to the third line between Steve Ott and Nathan Gerbe, with Porter taking over the fourth line with John Scott and Patrick Kaleta. Jochen Hecht, a Ruff favorite, could be the odd man out.
The Sabres have promoted Rochester assistant coach Chadd Cassidy to head coach of the Amerks for the rest of the season to replace Rolston. Cassidy has been Rolston’s assistant for the last 6½ seasons, the first five with USA Hockey.
Cassidy made his debut in Wednesday night’s game against the Texas Stars in Blue Cross Arena.