April 7, 2018 was the last time Scott Wilson played in a professional regular season game. On Sept. 30, he fractured his ankle heading into the first week of the NHL's regular season. Now, 14-and-a-half weeks later, with surgery and extensive rehab behind him, the 26-year old forward is ready for the next step - in Rochester.
Wilson cleared waivers Wednesday at noon, and immediately joined the Amerks for practice. It took all of about five seconds for him to score during the first line rush with Kevin Porter and Wayne Simpson, followed immediately by some hoots and hollers.
"Last time I was in the American league I used to score a lot of goals so I'm hoping that will come back a little bit," Wilson, whose previous AHL time came with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton from 2014-2016, said.
His numbers with those Penguins: 41 goals and 77 points in 90 American Hockey League games. With C.J. Smith up with the Sabres, Wilson's presence could help offset that loss.
Other lines from Wednesday's practice at The Blue Cross Arena:
Victor Olofsson - Rasmus Asplund - Danny O'Regan
Alexander Nylander - Kyle Criscuolo - Eric Cornel
Dalton Smith - Sean Malone - Justin Bailey
Yannick Veilleux - Judd Peterson - Tyler Randell
(Note: Peterson was assigned to ECHL Cincinnati after the skate)
"It's good to have him and his leadership around," Amerks coach Chris Taylor said. "He's got a great shot. He's a great penalty killer, and a great person. He'll support the young guys and he wants to help the team win games, it's not about him. He's unselfish."
"It's almost eight or nine months since I've had a real game so," Wilson confirmed. "I did a lot of skating there [Buffalo] but it doesn't do justice once you get into the games. So getting some games under my belt and just kind of getting back in the swing of things, getting your timing back is the most important thing."
Skating with Porter specifically was very familiar for Wilson as the two had good times together in the Pens organization.
"I think half the battle when coming down to a new team is if you know a lot of the guys it's a lot easier, he said. "So I pretty much know all the guys whether it's from hockey in the past or just at training camp. It's definitely a good group here and it's nice to be a part of it."
As for which line he will play on, Taylor said he's not a lock to play with Porter and Simpson.
"We'll go through a couple days at practice and get him acclimated with all different types of guys and where we're going to use him and how we're going to use him and go from there," he said.
The Amerks are home to the Marlies this Friday, followed by a quick trip up the QEW for the late Saturday afternoon matinee in Toronto.
And despite three years in the NHL, the impending change in mode of transportation is not at all a concern.
"As much as it [the bus] sucks at 2 or 3 in the morning, it's kind of where you build friendships and stuff like that. It's part of the game," Wilson said. "…A lot of these young guys are doing it now, but one day they'll be flying on jets in the NHL so I'm just gonna go back to enjoying it and make the most of it."
As for how long he might be in Rochester, it's way too early to tell.
"You never know, honestly. There will come a point…I don't think it will come after two or three games," he said "…It's gonna come a little bit longer than that and up until this point, it's been on my own regard with how I'm feeling. So it's kind of just a feeling out process.
"Obviously I want to be a part of it [within the Sabres organization]. They made it clear to me, too, that a lot of times when you throw somebody on waivers, it's trying to get rid of them and they made that clear that that wasn't the case. I'm just excited to be back here and have some fun playing hockey."