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Buffalo Sabres centre Gaustad out 3-4 weeks after thumb surgery @NHLdotcom

BUFFALO, N.Y. - Buffalo Sabres centre Paul Gaustad is expected to miss at least three to four weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb Tuesday.

Gaustad, entering his fourth NHL season, was hurt during a fight in Buffalo's 2-1 shootout loss to Minnesota on Sunday. He had one goal in two games this pre-season and was expected to provide a physical presence on the Sabres' second or third line.

Buffalo continues its pre-season schedule at Minnesota on Wednesday in preparing to open the regular season against Montreal on Oct. 9.

The Sabres identified Gaustad as one of their core players this summer when they re-signed him to a US$9.2-million, four-year contract. Buffalo's seventh-round draft pick in 2000, Gaustad is coming off a solid season that included career highs with 10 goals, 26 assists and 36 points in 82 games.

Also Tuesday, the Sabres assigned 11 players to the minors and loaned forward Philip Gogulla to Kolner Haie of the German Elite League. Defenceman Tyler Myers, selected 12th overall in this year's draft, was also returned to the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League.

Demoted to AHL Portland were forwards Tyler Bouck, Jimmy Bonneau, Colton Fretter, Marc-Andre Gragnani, Derek Whitmore, Felix Schutz and Colin Murphy; defencemen Mike Card and Mike Kostka; and goaltenders Jhonas Enroth and Adam Dennis.

Bouck and Bonneau must first clear waivers.

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