Defenseman Alexander Sulzer said he suffered a concussion March 13 at Carolina and was following protocols to become symptom-free. He missed the final 16 games.
“I’ve been on the bike a couple times so I wasn’t far off,” Sulzer said. “I went into the glass head-first on a hit and I bounced off a guy so I kind of got whipped around.”
Sulzer has played 57 games over parts of the last three seasons for the Sabres, including 25 this year, after being acquired from Vancouver at the trade deadline in 2012. He was on a one-year, $725,000 contract and will now be a free agent.
“I think they have their plan and they’re going in the right direction,” Sulzer said. “I’m just going to have to see if I can be part of it or not.”
He was with the Sabres for only 22 games and healthy enough to play in only five, but Chris Stewart is excited to spend much of the summer in Buffalo.
The 26-year-old forward was part of the trade that sent Ryan Miller and Steve Ott to St. Louis. He had 26 points (15 goals, 11 assists) over 58 games but injured his ankle in just his second game as a Sabre.
It looked like he was done for the season, but the ankle was feeling good so he came back April 8 against Detroit. Turns out he may have pushed too hard because he reinjured the ankle on his first shift at Boston on Saturday.
“It’s the competitive nature. If you think you’re healthy enough to play, you’re going to play,” Stewart said. “It’s a minor setback, a couple-day thing.”
Stewart said he would stay around Buffalo to work with the training staff on getting healthy. He and his wife will also stay in town as she is expecting twins in July.
Stewart has one year left on his contract and while his name will likely swirl among trade rumors, he’s committed to helping with the Buffalo rebuild.
“We’ve got to realize that we’re in this together,” Stewart said. “It’s definitely going to take everyone and it’s going to be a process but I guarantee you at the end of the process we’ll be tougher together. … This is the best league in the world. You’ve got to come in with that swagger and know you’re going to get the job done.”
Nicolas Deslauriers had a bit of swagger Sunday night after an energetic fight with Scott Mayfield of the New York Islanders at 4:07 of the third period.
“That’s part of my game. Just be physical and it’s going to happen,” he said. “I can’t back down, especially if you want to give momentum to the team. That’s what I did. I want to be a momentum changer. The fans have been awesome. This team’s been struggling, and every game that I played here was fun. It’s a great hockey town, and I’m glad to be here.”
Deslauriers was part of a deadline-day trade with the Los Angeles Kings and made his NHL debut with the Sabres on March 7. It’s been an unexpected but exciting journey for the 23-year old forward.
“I never thought I was going to get called up, and now I’ve played 17 games,” Deslauriers said. “It’s been awesome. I know it’s been a tough year for Buffalo, especially with all the injuries, but I’ll just try to get myself prepared this summer and try to make the team next year.”
Deslauriers will return to Rochester as the Amerks make a final push to qualify for the American Hockey League playoffs. Also scheduled to return to Rochester are defensemen Mark Pysyk and Rasmus Ristolainen. Defenseman Chad Ruhwedel will return if he is healthy enough after suffering a concussion in Philadelphia on April 6.
Tyler Ennis was named the Sabres’ most valuable player as voted on by the players. He led the team in goals with 21 and was second in scoring with 43 points.
“It’s awesome. It’s so nice that guys voted for me,” Ennis said. “It’s a great group of guys. It’s an honor to be named MVP amongst my peers and just thanks to the boys for voting for me. It’d be nice to be MVP of a first-place team but any time you get an award like that it’s an honor and I’m very thankful for it.”
He particularly responded well when Ted Nolan took over coaching duties. Ennis excelled in the second half of the season, scoring 13 of his goals and notching 28 of his points in the 39 games after the midway mark.
“I definitely wouldn’t have been the MVP if Teddy didn’t come in,” Ennis said. “As soon as he came in, my game elevated. I think immediately I just started putting the puck in the net and playing fun hockey again.”