The season-opening roster for the Buffalo Sabres will be set by 3 p.m. today. Alexander Sulzer didn’t make the cut. At least one other player will join him.
The Sabres waived Sulzer on Sunday, bringing the team down to 24 healthy players on the eve of the roster deadline. They must have a maximum of 23 and a minimum of 20 by this afternoon.
NHL teams needed to waive any unwanted veterans Sunday in order to have them off the roster today. Sulzer was the Sabres’ only move, meaning bubble players such as Kevin Porter, Cody McCormick and Jamie McBain have made the team for Wednesday’s season opener in Detroit.
Sulzer played 17 games for the Sabres last year before suffering a season-ending knee injury. Buffalo re-signed the 29-year-old defenseman to a one-year, $725,000 contract. If he clears waivers, Sulzer and his complete salary will patrol the blue line in Rochester.
Sulzer had plenty of company on the waiver wire as teams combined to cut 37 veterans. Toronto defenseman John-Michael Liles, who is in the second season of a four-year, $15.5 million contract, topped the list. The Maple Leafs also waived former Buffalo defenseman T.J. Brennan, while Winnipeg waived ex-Sabres blue-liner Adam Pardy.
Sabres forward Luke Adam, who was waived Saturday, was not claimed and will play for the Amerks.
The departure of Sulzer leaves the Sabres with seven healthy defensemen – Christian Ehrhoff, Tyler Myers, Mike Weber, Henrik Tallinder, Mark Pysyk, Rasmus Ristolainen and McBain – so the team is expected to cut at least one of its 15 forwards in order to reach the roster limit.
Zemgus Girgensons, Johan Larsson and Brian Flynn are eligible to be sent to the Amerks without waivers. Girgensons and Larsson had impressive preseasons, while Flynn earned the respect of coach Ron Rolston last year.
Larsson’s chances to start the season in Buffalo have taken a hit by the Sabres’ apparent decision to use Tyler Ennis at center. Ennis also spent time at left wing during training camp, but the team is leaning toward using him in the middle.
“Right now I would say probably, but you never know,” Rolston said this weekend.
Cody Hodgson, Mikhail Grigorenko, Porter and McCormick also can play in the middle.
Girgensons, the second of two first-round picks in 2012, practiced on a line with Flynn on Saturday. The team took Sunday off.
Girgensons, 19, took a major leap during the playoffs last year. He led the Amerks with three goals in three games. He continued to play well in the preseason, tying for the team lead with three goals and four points.
Flynn, 25, failed to record a point during the exhibitions. He had six goals and 11 points in 26 games last season.
Sulzer arrived in Buffalo at the 2012 trade deadline.
The defenseman has played 32 games with the Sabres, recording six goals and 12 points. He hasn’t played in the minors since splitting time with Nashville and Milwaukee in 2009-10.