|(Photo Credit: Toronto Marlies)
Hours after losing their second game in a row in lopsided fashion, the Rochester Americans saw a major shakeup to their roster on Saturday night. Forwards Jason Akeson and Philip Varone were traded along with defenseman Jerome Leduc to the Ottawa Senators organization in exchange for forwards Cole Schneider, Eric O'Dell and Alex Guptill and defenseman Michael Sdao.
The move helped ease a season-long dilemma for the Amerks that revolved around their surplus of veteran players. AHL teams are required to ice a minimum of 13 "development players," 12 of which must have 260 games or less of NHL, AHL or European elite league experience and the other being required to have 320 or fewer such games.
In the exchange, the Amerks swapped two veterans over the 320-game mark (Varone and Akeson) for a pair of proven AHL scorers in Schneider and O'Dell who are still below it. Schneider, a Williamsville, N.Y. native, led the Binghamton Senators this season with 42 points (17+25) while O'Dell led the team with 18 goals.
Even more so, Sabres General Manager Tim Murray said he hopes that the move can propel the Amerks toward fulfilling their playoff expectations this season.
"Just a change of scenery for seven players, basically," Murray told Brian Duff in an interview on Monday. "We tried to give them a jolt in Roch and obviously a big hill to climb but we have enough games down there.
"… I've seen us play well two weekends ago when we swept three games against three good teams so I know it's there. Maybe a change of scenery for a couple guys can make us a little more consistent, that's the hope."
Inconsistency bit the Amerks again coming off their three-win weekend, following it up with a 5-2 loss to the Lake Erie Monsters on Thursday and then with a 10-5 loss to the League-best Toronto Marlies on Saturday afternoon before the trade.
Jerry D'Amigo scored both goals in the loss to Lake Erie, in which Rochester was outshot 30-27. Lake Erie jumped out to a 3-0 lead in that game with two of their goals coming on the power play and answered both times D'Amigo attempted to bring Rochester back in the second and third period.
Linus Ullmark, coming off of being named AHL Player of the Week, took the loss in net, allowing four goals on 29 shots.
Monsters goaltender Anton Forsberg made 25 saves, including three stops on Amerks breakaways for Matt Ellis, Akeson and Colby Robak.
Rochester actually came out of the first period tied 2-2 and out of the second trailing by only one goal on Saturday, but Toronto scored four unanswered goals in the third to run away with the victory.
Just hours before being traded, Varone led the scoring for Rochester with a goal and two assists. Bobby Sanguinetti scored twice in the first period, both in response to goals from two of Toronto's top scorers in T.J. Brennan and William Nylander.
Evan Rodrigues, Varone and William Carrier each scored for the Amerks in the high-scoring second period, which began with two goals from the Marlies in the opening three minutes. Goals from Varone and Carrier came less than a minute apart to tie the game at 5-5, but Toronto capped the scoring with the eventual game-winner from Sam Carrick in the final minutes of the period.
Ullmark was pulled after the second period, allowing six goals on 20 shots. His replacement, Nathan Lieuwen, allowed three goals on 13 shots in the third.
1. Cole Schneider 42 points (17+25)
2. Eric O'Dell 37 points (18+19)
3. Cal O'Reilly 28 points (6+22)
4. Justin Bailey 26 points (10+16)
5. William Carrier 25 points (10+15)
1. Nathan Lieuwen 13-9-0, 2.71 GAA, .916 save percentage
2. Andrey Makarov 6-7-1, 3.09 GAA, .907 save percentage
3. Linus Ullmark 6-8-0, 3.17 GAA, .909 save percentage
The Amerks newly-acquired players will make their debuts in back-to-back games at Blue Cross Arena against the Springfield Falcons at 7:05 p.m. on Friday and the Marlies at 7:35 p.m. on Saturday. Both games can be heard on Fox Sports 1280, while Friday's can be seen on Time Warner Sports Channel (channel 87 in Buffalo).
Former defenseman Richie Dunn, goaltender Daren Puppa and the Amerks Booster Club will be honored as the newest members of the Amerks Hall of Fame prior to the game on Friday. Information on that night, as well as on the careers of Dunn and Puppa, can be found here.
Saturday's game will be Superhero Night at Blue Cross Arena, where kids can meet and greet their favorite super heroes throughout the game. Tickets for children between the ages of 2 and 10 are just $10, and best-available seating can be purchased with an officially licensed POP! Vinyl Superhero Figure for $25.