The Buffalo Sabres have options and they might try some new ones on offense.
Corey Tropp and Patrick Kaleta are both available to return Saturday night against the Anaheim Ducks, according to coach Ron Rolston. Their returns could shake up the lineup.
Tropp is set to come off the non-roster injured list as his broken jaw has healed while Kaleta has finished serving a 10-game suspension by the NHL for an illegal check to the head of Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson.
After Buffalo’s 2-0 loss on the road to the New York Rangers on Thursday, Rolston said that bringing in a competitive player like Tropp, specifically, would make for some tough decisions for the coaching staff.
Tropp has not played in an NHL game since the end of the 2011-12 season. He injured his knee in the Amerks season opener last year and missed 72 games because of it. He’s been out since Sept. 22 with the broken jaw.
“I can’t try to get back what I lost in one game, but I just have to go out and do what I’ve always done,” he said after practice at First Niagara Center. “I think playing hard and creating chances and kind of running around, putting pressure on the D and forcing opportunities that way. If I do that, I’ll think I’ll be doing my job.”
Rolston coached Tropp when both were with the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League two seasons ago.
“He’s got a good attitude, but it’s probably going to take him a little bit, too, to get to where he wants to be, I would imagine,” Rolston said. “But just on the ice you can see the energy he brings to the table for us.”
For Tropp to be in the lineup, Rolston said a roster move would have to be made on Friday to get down to 23 players by Saturday.
Kaleta, meanwhile, said he is ready to return as well and is looking forward to the opportunity to suit up in a game again.
“It’s been a bit of a long road here, but I’ve been working pretty hard,” he said. “I’m just going to try to infuse some energy into the lineup and bring hard work, hard work, some hard work, try to play passionate and like I said, bring some hard work.”
Tropp also preached the necessity of putting in a solid effort every shift, particularly when it comes to exciting the fan base.
“I think this is a city where if you’re working hard, that’s all they ask. It doesn’t matter if you’re winning or losing. They’ll respect us a club if we’re coming out every night and competing our tails off,” he said. “I think that’s the message that needs to be sent. We might not win every single game, but if as long as everyone’s effort’s there every single night, we gotta leave the rink feeling good about ourselves. We’ve gotta find a way.”
Rolston provided an update on rookie right wing Joel Armia, who broke his hand in a preseason game on Sept. 25. Rolston said Armia is about a week away from returning and that he would likely be assigned to the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League.
26 Matt Moulson – 19 Cody Hodgson – 63 Tyler Ennis
9 Steve Ott – 82 Marcus Foligno – 78 Corey Tropp
28 Zemgus Girgensons – 22 Johan Larsson – 21 Drew Stafford / 65 Brian Flynn
25 Mikhail Grigorenko – 8 Cody McCormick – 23 Ville Leino / 36 Patrick Kaleta
10 Christian Ehrhoff – 3 Mark Pysyk
20 Henrik Tallinder – 57 Tyler Myers
4 Jamie McBain – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
61 Nikita Zadorov – 32 John Scott
30 Ryan Miller
1 Jhonas Enroth