With a week of camp remaining and only a handful of preseason games left to be played, the Sabres' roster has begun to take shape and players are settling into their normal roles. Jack Eichel was centering Evander Kane and Sam Reinhart at practice on Saturday morning, while the line of Marcus Foligno, Johan Larsson and Brian Gionta was reunited for the first time at camp.
For regularity to return, however, the amount of bodies at training camp needed to be slimmed down. Justin Bailey, William Carrier and Evan Rodrigues were among the 17 players released from the Sabres' training camp roster. All three will report to camp for the Rochester Americans, which began at HarborCenter on Friday.
It's important to note that Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said the players who were sent down on Saturday could return to the big club as soon as Tuesday, when the Sabres embark on a back-to-back preseason road trip. It's also important to note the guys who were fighting for a spot and are still on the roster.
Four forwards who weren't regulars on the Sabres last year (not counting free agent acquisition Kyle Okposo) remained on Saturday: Derek Grant, Cal O'Reilly, Hudson Fasching and Alexander Nylander.
Grant's success thus far has been well documented. He was a standout in camp scrimmages and has since tallied four points (2+2) in three preseason games. O'Reilly proved last season that he could help the Sabres when called upon, scoring seven points (3+4) in 20 games.
Fasching and Nylander are both young players that were in the conversation to make the roster out of camp. Nylander is admittedly still working towards adjusting to the speed of the game after being selected by the Sabres in the first round of this year's draft. Fasching came into camp having already played seven NHL games at the end of last season, and he's picked up right where he left off.
If you want to see the things Fasching does well, look no further than his assist on Grant's goal against Ottawa on Tuesday. He used his strength behind the net to gain control of the puck from Senators prospect Maxime Lajoie and quickly fed Nicholas Baptiste on the corner of the crease.
"I think the biggest thing is just playing to my strengths," Fasching said. "Try to keep the puck low, battle below the dots, do the things that I can do well and try to do them on a consistent basis. I think that's kind of the main feedback I've been getting."
Fasching replicated his performance on that play below the dots several times against the Maple Leafs in St. Catharines on Thursday, which he felt was an even better game overall than the one he played against Ottawa.
"The shift on the Grant goal in the Ottawa game would be [an example of] what he's done the most," Bylsma said. "But he's done a lot of little things right in his game. He has a lot of attention to detail in his game but his big body, his presence at the net, his ability, his puck protection down low have been the biggest things."
The battle for defensive roster spots also appears to still be in full swing. Notable names remained on defense as well, including Casey Nelson, Brendan Guhle, Erik Burgdoerfer and Justin Falk. Taylor Fedun was also on the ice with the team for the first time in camp.
Video: FEDUN: After Practice
Dmitry Kulikov and Nicholas Baptiste were both absent after exiting early in the loss to Toronto on Friday. Kulikov was simply resting with a bruise on his "butt bone," according to Sabres coach Dan Bylsma, while Baptiste is undergoing further tests on the lower-back injury he sustained against the Maple Leafs.
Zach Bogosian was also absent due to injury, which Brian Duff has more on in today's Sabres in :90.
Video: Sabres in :90
Ryan O'Reilly was once again absent from practice as he continues to rest coming off playing for Team Canada at the World Cup of Hockey. Bylsma said that the team still hasn't established a specific return date, but added that he would like O'Reilly to travel with the team for their road trip beginning on Tuesday.
9 Evander Kane - 15 Jack Eichel - 23 Sam Reinhart
63 Tyler Ennis - 28 Zemgus Girgensons - 21 Kyle Okposo
82 Marcus Foligno - 22 Johan Larsson - 12 Brian Gionta
44 Nicolas Deslauriers - 27 Derek Grant - 26 Matt Moulson
70 Alexander Nylander - 19 Cal O'Reilly - 52 Hudson Fasching
Defensemen: 29 Jake McCabe, 55 Rasmus Ristolainen, 4 Josh Gorges, 34 Casey Nelson, 6 Cody Franson, 38 Taylor Fedun, 46 Erik Burgdoerfer, 41 Justin Falk, 45 Brendan Guhle
40 Robin Lehner
31 Anders Nilsson
35 Linus Ullmark