TAMPA – The NHL Trade Deadline left some pretty big vacancies in the Buffalo Sabres lineup.
On Monday, the team traded away forwards Chris Stewart, Torrey Mitchell and Brian Flynn and goaltender Michal Neuvirth. The net return featured goaltender Chad Johnson, American Hockey League forward Jack Nevins and four draft picks.
To fill in the gaps, Buffalo recalled three forwards from the AHL’s Rochester – Tim Schaller, Jerry D’Amigo and Mikhail Grigorenko – on Tuesday. D’Amigo will make his Sabres debut Tuesday night when the Sabres take on the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena at 7:30 p.m. (TV: NBCSN, Radio: WGR 550).
Anders Lindback, acquired by the team in a trade with Dallas on Feb. 11 will start his first game in goal for Buffalo. He’d been backing up Neuvirth and hasn’t played in a game since Feb. 7.
“It’s been pretty common for me over the last couple years here. I’ve been in that situation before so I’ve really just got to focus on the things I can do,” Lindback said after the team’s morning skate. “I try to work hard in practice and prepare myself. I’m just excited for the opportunity.”
He has appeared in only 10 games this year. He’s 2-8-0 with an .875 save percentage and a 3.71 goals-against average.
“He’s been sitting around. Everybody said, ‘When’s he going to play?’ Well now he’s playing,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. “He has a chance to play and make somebody eat crow for thinking that he can’t play. He’s pretty eager and excited to play.”
The addition of the Rochester trio brings the number of players on the roster who have spent time with the Amerks this year to seven.
Grigorenko will serve as a healthy scratch Tuesday night. He was brought up just in case Tyler Ennis, who has missed parts of two games with a groin injury. However, Ennis will be ready to suit up against Tampa Bay. Tyson Strachan will serve as the healthy scratch on defense.
D’Amigo is ready for his first NHL game since April 8.
Buffalo acquired him in a trade with the Blue Jackets organization on Dec. 16, 2014. He said he likes to play with speed and hopes he can have a good impact on his line with Matt Ellis and Zac Dalpe.
D’Amigo has 26 points (9+17) in 59 AHL games this season, including 19 (6+13) in 31 games since joining the Amerks. The Binghamton, N.Y. native played in 22 NHL games during the 2013-14 season as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs, recording one goal and two assists.
“If you grind it up down in the AHL, you hope opportunities will come up and one did,” he said. “When you’re down there, you’ve just got to play as best you can, hope for a call up. I think that’s what I did and I put myself in a good position to be up here right now.”
Down the middle, the Sabres will ice four centermen who have spent significant time with the Amerks this year. Philip Varone will pivot the top line with Ennis and Matt Moulson and Johan Larsson will skate between Marcus Foligno and captain Brian Gionta.
Johan Larsson will return to center after spending a majority of his 20 games in Buffalo this season on the wing.
“When the first came up here the last time we called him, the only words I said to him were, ‘Just play,’” Nolan said. “‘Don’t worry about how much ice time you have, who you’re playing with. Just play.’
“Now this is a perfect opportunity. We said it to him and Phil Varone this morning, ‘You guys wanted an opportunity, here’s one.’”
26 Matt Moulson – 84 Philip Varone – 63 Tyler Ennis
82 Marcus Foligno – 22 Johan Larsson – 12 Brian Gionta
44 Nicolas Deslauriers – 59 Tim Schaller – 19 Cody Hodgson
49 Jerry D’Amigo – 37 Matt Ellis – 20 Zac Dalpe
61 Andre Benoit – 47 Zach Bogosian
51 Nikita Zadorov – 41 Andrej Meszaros
6 Mike Weber – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
35 Anders Lindback
33 Chad Johnson
Scratched: 24 Tyson Strachan, 25 Mikhail Grigorenko
Injured Reserve: 4 Josh Gorges (lower body), 8 Cody McCormick (blood clots), 9 Evander Kane (shoulder), 28 Zemgus Girgensons (lower body), 36 Patrick Kaleta (lower body)