Today the NHL cancelled the first two weeks of the regular season, as expected. This means that any games scheduled prior to October 24th, a total of 82 contests, have officially been axed. This news will further compound NHLers desire to seek work elsewhere. At present many Sabres players are in a holding pattern, working out and training for a season that may never be played. Others however are already in action across several continents, let’s take a look at where to find these globetrotting Sabres and how they’re faring thus far.
Cody Hodgson is the #1 Center, But not for the team Darcy Regier had planned for when he acquired him (Image Courtesy of US Presswire)
The most logical place to search for Buffalo players would be in Rochester with their AHL affiliate club the Rochester Americans. At present Cody Hodgson, Luke Adam, Marcus Foligno, Brayden McNabb, Corey Tropp and TJ Brennan are all on the roster in Rochester. Buffalo first round draft choice Zemgus Girgensons is also plying his trade with the Amerks, which is a good place for him to gain valuable experience against professionals while the NHL sorts out their labor dispute. The Amerks opened up their preseason schedule Wednesday night with a 4-3 loss to the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins. Cody Hodgson looked explosive in his season debut, creating several quality scoring chances throughout the game. Luke Adam, Phil Varone, and Brayden McNabb had the 3 goals for Rochester in the loss.
Sticking in North America, the Sabres other first round draft choice, forward Mikhail Grigorenko is off to a torrid start with the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL. The Russian center has 12 points in just 5 contests, with 3 goals and 9 assists. Due to the lockout Grigorenko is elligible to be called up should the labor dispute end, at which point traditional rules would apply. This means the Sabres would be able to try Mikhail out with the big club for 9 games before deciding to either keep him in Buffalo for the duration of the season or return him to juniors.
Crossing the pond over to Europe where there has been a mass exodus over the last week, the Sabres currently have 4 players under contract with European teams. Additionally goaltender Jhonas Enroth is at home in Sweden and is expected to sign a contract with a Swedish Elite League team in the coming days. Thomas Vanek has signed with the Graz 99ers in his home country of Austria. The signing of Vanek by his hometown team has been big news in Austria as he, alongside Michael Grabner and Andreas Nodl will be the first Austrian NHLers to play in the Austrian Professional League. Also under contract is Andrej Sekera with HC Bratislava of the KHL. Sekera hasn’t appeared in a game yet, but when he suits up he will be sharing a locker-room with former Sabres Miroslav Satan and Milan Bartovic.
In Germany Christian Ehrhoff is enjoying some early season success with the Krefeld Penguins of the DEL. In the last two contests against Berlin and Dusseldorf, Ehrhoff has 2 goals and an assist while Krefeld split the decisions. On the year Christian has 3 points with a +1 rating in 5 games played. Ehrhoff played over 150 games for Krefeld before his first NHL appearance with San Jose, including a DEL Championship in 2003. Tyler Ennis has also made his season debut in Europe, playing for HC Langnau of the Swiss Elite League. In his first game Tyler was held scoreless with an even +/- rating.
With the NHL and the Players Association failing to make any progress on the distribution of hockey related revenue it appears we may be in for quite a bit of missed NHL action. As the lockout lingers, many more Sabres are likely to look to play in Europe, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Jhonas Enroth or forward Ville Leino sign contracts in the next week. For now if you’re looking for Buffalo Sabres action keep your eyes glued to the Rochester Amerks and the various CHL and European leagues to catch a glimpse of your favorite players and prospects in action.
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