With defenseman Mike Weber coming back from injury, the Buffalo Sabres needed to make a roster move.
Which they did. In fact they made four moves sending 18 yr. old defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen to Rochester along with 21 yr. old forward Johan Larsson.
Joining those two in Rochester will be 19 yr. old forward Mikhail Grigorenko, who is allowed to play in the minors on a 14-day conditioning stint. Afterwards he will either be with Buffalo or will be headed back to junior.
18 yr. old defenseman Nikita Zadorov was sent to his junior club, the London Knights, and it is assumed that he will be there for the rest of the season. London will be hosting the Memorial Cup this season and will be getting an automatic bid to the tournament.
New bench-boss Ted Nolan had mentioned that the team was alot younger than he thought and hinted that some changes would be made.
He also mentioned that there are some players in Rochester who's play has earned them a call-up. Although no names were mentioned, forward Luke Adam is tied for the AHL with 13 goals and defenseman Brayden McNabb has been playing a solid all-around game while rediscovering his grit.
The moves sure did make some vets happy.
Henrik Tallinder, who was benched in New Jersey last season before big-daddy Darcy Regier rescued him via tradel, thought that the youngsters had it a bit too easy making the Sabres, "It’s not about getting the spot; it’s about earning the spot,” he said.
Ole' Hank is a former 2nd round pick of the Buffalo Sabres (#48, 1997) who happened to be developing (1 yr. in Rochester) while Regier was dismantling "the hardest working team in hockey," a team that was coached at one time by Nolan.
His game has been in decline ever since the 2009/10 season, which happens to coincide with the decline of the hands-off, "new-NHL."
Tallinder is still a non-hitter (read: wuss,) is slow and at times flops around like a rookie out there.
He's lucky he's a vet. Ristolainen has similar attributes as Tallinder, but also adds a serious edge to his game. Risto has played at least as well as Hank, and were they contemporaries, Tallinder would've been waived, given the choice.
Veteran defenseman Mike Weber has been nothing short of a train wreck this season. About the only thing that saved him from having a worse plus/minus rating than his present minus-12 (third-worst in the league) is the fact that he's been injured and has missed half of the Sabres 22 games.
"You got to develop in the minors," said Weber, "You got to play junior. You got to earn the right to be here."
Yeah, I guess if you're Mike Weber you needed to.
Yet, most Sabres fans can handle an 18 yr. old Zadorov, his one goal and minus-4 rating in seven games, learning the NHL game.
He likes to hit, just like Weber.
Tallinder and Weber are lucky they're on a crappy team with so much youth, otherwise their play would've gotten them waived by now.
Nolan, though, put it all in perspective. The Sabres have always been known as a team that will take their time developing players, and it would seem as if the new regime featuring Pat LaFontaine as Director of Hockey Ops wants to get back to that.
"Whether I saw them or not," said Nolan, "I don’t think it really made much of a difference. We look at where we are with this organization and where we have to go to, and proper development is so important.”
Tallinder and Weber should be thanking their lucky stars.
Thanks to Bill Hoppe for his article