There could likely be lineup changes coming for the Buffalo Sabres and Nikita Zadorov could make his NHL debut against the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday.
Forward Kevin Porter and defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen took in extra work after practice at First Niagara Center with suspended forward Patrick Kaleta, so they will likely be the healthy scratches.
Sabres coach Ron Rolston said that forward Cody McCormick, who is day-to-day with a lower body injury, will not be able to play, so it looks like the Sabres will dress seven defensemen against Colorado.
Faceoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Zadorov, currently on the injured non-roster list, has been recovering from a lacerated finger he sustained in the preseason, but has been a full participant in practice the last few days. He’s skated alongside Jamie McBain in those sessions.
Rolston said on Friday that he would like to get Zadorv, who was drafted by the Sabres 16th overall in June, into a game soon. Saturday morning, Rolston declared the 18-year-old defenseman healthy enough to play.
“How close [is Zadorov] to playing? He’s ready to go at any time,” Rolston told reporters. “Could be tonight.”
If Zadorov dresses, a roster move would have to be made before the game. Rolston said they would not put McCormick on injured reserve to free up a spot on the 23-man roster.
When asked after practice if McBain was going to take Ristolainen’s place in the lineup, Rolston gave a guarded response.
“I don’t know. We’ll see. We’ll see how tonight goes,” he said. “It’s a surprise.”
Zemgus Girgensons, who caught a puck above his left eye on Tuesday, will be back in the lineup for Buffalo.
“I didn’t really want to miss anything because I don’t think it was that big of a deal,” he said. “It was just some stitches and the only problem was my eye was shut. I couldn’t see. So besides that, there were no problems. It was just about the body recovering. Nothing else.”
Ryan Miller was the first goaltender off the ice during the optional morning skate and is likely to start in goal.
Sabres rookie center Mikhail Grigorenko will see a familiar face behind the opposing bench. First-year Avalanche coach Patrick Roy was Grigorenko’s coach with the Quebec City Remparts of the Ontario Hockey League for two seasons from 2011 to 2013.
Grigorenko said he is looking forward to playing against his old coach from juniors.
“He meant a lot to me. He’s the guy who taught me the most things about hockey and I was really lucky to play in North America with him [as] my coach,” Grigorenko said. “Hopefully I’ll be able to show him what he taught me and hopefully score a goal.”