A trio of injured players returned to practice for the Buffalo Sabres on Monday at First Niagara Center.
Ville Leino and Corey Tropp skated with the team for the first time in a few weeks. Cody McCormick was back on the ice as well as he recovers from a lower-body injury sustained while blocking a shot Thursday night against the Vancouver Canucks.
Leino, who has been out since leaving the season opener on Oct. 2 with a cracked rib, was a full participant in practice and rotated in and out with McCormick on the fourth line during some drills. Tropp was limited and skated in a red non-contact jersey and a full face-shield as he recovers from a broken jaw.
“You want to be out there. You want to help the team. You want to see the team succeed so that hasn’t been a fun part, definitely,” Leino said. “It’s been a little bit of a struggle here, so hopefully I can get back soon and help the team.”
Leino, currently on the injured reserve list, said he's day-to-day and hopes to be ready to go by the end of the week "at the latest." Sabres coach Ron Rolston said Leino’s return date hinges on how he practices moving forward and how he responds to contact.
McCormick is in a similar spot, according to Rolston. McCormick did not play Saturday against Colorado.
“He’s in the same boat,” Rolston said. “He still has a lot of soreness and stiffness and stuff, so we’re monitoring him too.”
The practice was the first for Tropp since he broke his jaw in a fight with Toronto’s Jamie Devane in a preseason game on Sept. 22.
“That’s part of the game,” Tropp said of the fight. “It happens. Obviously he got the better half of me on that one, but it is what is. He’s a good player and that’s all it is.”
Tropp said he had his jaw wired shut for 10 days after the fight, but has been skating and working out for the last 2.5 weeks. Rolston said Tropp is likely a few weeks away from being cleared for contact.
Rookie defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen was back at practice with the Sabres, too. He was sent down to the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League a few hours before Buffalo’s game on Saturday and was officially recalled Monday morning.
Ristolainen’s recall puts the Sabres one player over the 23-man roster limit. Rolston said a roster move is coming and it’s likely someone would be put on the injured reserve list.
Christian Ehrhoff was given a maintenance day and did not skate. To give the Sabres an even number of defensemen in practice, John Scott suited up on the blue line.
Patrick Kaleta was absent as well as he appeals his 10-game suspension.
26 Thomas Vanek – 19 Cody Hodgson – 21 Drew Stafford
9 Steve Ott – 82 Marcus Foligno – 63 Tyler Ennis
28 Zemgus Girgensons – 22 Johan Larsson – 65 Brian Flynn
12 Kevin Porter – 25 Mikhail Grigorenko – 8 Cody McCormick / 23 Ville Leino
78 Corey Tropp
61 Nikita Zadorov – 3 Mark Pysyk
20 Henrik Tallinder – 57 Tyler Myers
6 Mike Weber – 4 Jamie McBain
32 John Scott – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth