BUFFALO -- The Buffalo Sabres will have a new face in the lineup when they host the Carolina Hurricanes.
Forward Philip Varone was called up from the American Hockey League on Wednesday and will make his NHL debut Thursday.
"I don't think words can describe it," Varone said. "Extremely humbled, extremely excited, nervous. I mean, it's been a long time coming. I've worked my whole life for it. When it finally comes you don't expect it."
Varone was a 2009 fifth-round pick (No. 147) of the San Jose Sharks but never signed with the team. He's spent the past two seasons in the AHL with the Rochester Americans. He'll play Thursday on the third line with Marcus Foligno and Brian Flynn.
"He's a highly skilled player," Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said of Varone. "The best part about it is he's earned everything he's been given. He came here as a free agent. … He put up some good numbers. He's got some good numbers in junior hockey. He's a highly skilled player and he earned his right here."
Center Zenon Konopka will return to the Sabres lineup. He was scratched Tuesday against the Florida Panthers as punishment for taking three penalties that turned into power-play goals against the Philadelphia Flyers and Columbus Blue Jackets.
"We talked [Thursday]," Nolan said. "[When] he goes to the net he's got to stop before that blue paint. He can't go through it. Especially a player of his nature, you're going to get called for that all the time. He's got to be a little bit smarter on driving to the net."
Jhonas Enroth was the first goalie off at the morning skate and will start for Buffalo.
The Hurricanes held an optional skate Thursday following a 3-2 win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday, and defensemen Ryan Murphy and Brett Bellemore and goalies Justin Peters and Cam Ward were the only participants. Ward is on injured reserve and rehabilitating a lower-body injury. Peters backed up Anton Khudobin on Wednesday, while Murphy and Bellemore were healthy scratches Wednesday.
Khudobin is expected to start against the Sabres. He stopped 22 shots in the win against the Flyers.
Here is how the lineups for the teams could look:
Jiri Tlusty - Eric Staal - Alexander Semin
Jeff Skinner - Jordan Staal - Elias Lindholm
Radek Dvorak - Riley Nash - Tuomo Ruutu
Nathan Gerbe - Manny Malhotra - Patrick Dwyer
Justin Faulk - Andrej Sekera
John-Michael Liles - Ron Hainsey
Mike Komisarek - Jay Harrison
Scratched: Ryan Murphy, Brett Bellemore, Drayson Bowman
Injured: Joni Pitkanen (heel), Cam Ward (lower body)
Matt Moulson - Tyler Ennis - Drew Stafford
Steve Ott - Cody Hodgson - Zemgus Girgensons
Marcus Foligno - Philip Varone - Brian Flynn
Ville Leino - Zenon Konopka - Matt Ellis
Tyler Myers - Henrik Tallinder
Christian Ehrhoff - Mike Weber
Alexander Sulzer - Jamie McBain
Scratched: Linus Omark, John Scott, Mark Pysyk
Injured: Cody McCormick (upper body), Matt D'Agostini (upper body)