The Buffalo Sabres have made multiple transactions ahead of tonight’s tilt against the Winnipeg Jets, namely activating netminder Eric Comrie and winger Zach Benson, who will both return to the lineup tonight after semi-lengthy absences, Paul Hamilton of WGR Sports Radio 550 relays. To make room on the 23-man roster, injured forward Tage Thompson was moved to IR and winger Lukáš Rousek was reassigned to the AHL’s Rochester Americans.
Comrie, 28, will make his first appearance since sustaining a lower-body injury in an October 27 game against the Devils. After an eight-game absence, the veteran backup returns and the Sabres will continue to carry three goalies when all are healthy. Rookie Devon Levi will serve as Comrie’s backup against the Jets tonight, while Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, who’s started the majority of the Sabres’ 16 contests this season, will serve as a healthy scratch.
In the second season of a two-year, $3.6MM deal signed in free agency in 2022, Comrie looks much improved in a small sample. In three appearances, all starts, Comrie’s .914 SV% and 2.45 GAA both lead the team. He will continue to stay in the regular rotation for starts so as to not overload Luukkonen and to continue to let the 22-year-old Levi adjust to the pro game.
Benson, 18, returns after missing seven straight games (and nine out of the last 12) with a lower-body injury. The winger seems well-acclimated to the NHL game thus far, doing well in terms of zone entries and showing a willingness to cut to the slot to make plays. After two assists in six games, though, the Sabres are approaching a decision on whether to burn the first season of his entry-level contract or return him to the WHL’s Wenatchee Wild. As covered earlier today, the Sabres aren’t yet sure what they’ll decide regarding the future of the 2023 13th overall pick.
Thompson has already been listed as week-to-week with a presumptive wrist injury sustained Tuesday against the Bruins, and he will miss far more than the seven minimum days required for an IR stay. With Comrie and Benson ready to return, the Sabres no longer had room to keep the injured center on the active roster. The 26-year-old had six goals and 12 points in 16 contests this season.
Rousek returns to Rochester after failing to make much of an impact on his recall, going without a point in five contests and posting a -2 rating. The 24-year-old averaged 11:14 but registered just one shot on goal and four total shot attempts. Sabres head coach Don Granato was likely looking for much more out of Rousek, who had started the season strong with two goals and six points in eight games for Rochester. The 2019 sixth-round pick now returns to the team he led in scoring last season with 56 points in 70 games.