The Sabres called up speedy winger Brian Flynn from Rochester on Friday night and the move opens up some interesting questions on their roster.
Thomas Vanek sat out Friday’s practice in Amherst due to what interim coach Ron Rolston called maintenance and his status could be up in the air for today’s game against New Jersey. However, the Sabres don’t have an open roster spot and Marcus Foligno sat out Thursday in Florida as a healthy scratch so he could fill that role.
One option would be to put defenseman Jordan Leopold on injured reserve for the weekend, perhaps backdated, to make room for Flynn. Leopold (upper body) is back at practice.
A more unlikely scenario would be to return Mikhail Grigorenko to junior hockey, although the Sabres are already paying the first year of his entry-level contract. And they are known to want the 18-year-old working with their skating and strength/conditioning coaches as well as taking part in NHL practices.
Flynn, 24, is a 6-foot-1, 180-pounder who has 16 goals and 16 assists this year for the Amerks, ranking 10th among AHL rookies in goals and points. He’s tied with Mark Mancari for the Rochester lead in goals. He signed with the Sabres last March and played five games at the end of the 2011-12 season in Rochester on a pro tryout from the University of Maine.
Rolston said Friday that backup goaltender Jhonas Enroth is going to get some work soon. Ryan Miller, the NHL’s runaway leader in shots against and saves, will make his 12th straight start today but the Sabres have three sets of back-to-back games in March (they play Sunday night in New York against the Rangers), and three sets of three games in four nights.
If Enroth doesn’t play Sunday, he certainly could get the call either Tuesday in Carolina or for Thursday’s rematch with the Devils in Newark. Rolston said Miller will have some input on his schedule but the team will continue to massage his practice and game time and monitor his energy level.
“We certainly communicate with him a lot in terms of where he’s at,” Rolston said. “But we also have to make sure we’re helping him manage the situation too because I’m sure he wants to play as much as he can.”
Enroth, who is 0-10-3 since last winning on Nov. 26, 2011, has been mostly terrible in his three appearances this year. He has a goals-against average of 4.75 and a save percentage of .847 – last in the league in both categories among goalies who have played more than once.
Injured winger Ville Leino (hip) worked hard on his own for 40 minutes Friday and then joined his teammates in practice, albeit in a limited role, for the first time since Jan. 18.
“Rehab has been good lately, I’ve been skating the last five days pretty hard and I was going pretty hard today,” Leino said. “I felt pretty good. If it’s not too sore the next two days, I’ll be pretty close to being able to play.”
Leino didn’t rule out a return for next Thursday’s game in New Jersey or the March 10 game in his old home, Philadelphia.
The Devils hit town in a 2-5-1 slump and on a three-game losing streak. They are seventh in the East and sliding after being 8-1-3 and atop the pack through 12 games.
The Devils, of course, lost the Stanley Cup final last year to Los Angeles but were expected to drop quickly this season in the wake of the free agent defection of Zach Parise to Minnesota. Longtime goaltender Martin Brodeur is not with the team as he remains on injured reserve with a bad back. Johan Hedberg will start today. Former Buffalo defenseman Henrik Tallinder, who has been a healthy scratch at times this year, played his 600th NHL game Thursday.