The Sabres placed star center Tage Thompson on the non-roster list after he was absent from last night’s 4-1 loss to the Bruins for personal reasons. While the move was announced Thursday, it was likely filed with the league in order to reduce the Sabres’ active roster to 23 players before the holiday roster freeze lifted last night at 11:59 p.m. ET.
Buffalo is now at the maximum of 23 players on their roster, but they’ll still need to clear two roster spots in the near future: one to activate Thompson when he’s ready to return to the team, and one to activate injured forward Zemgus Girgensons, whose return to health is imminent.
It’s been a down season for Thompson, who had a three-point game against the Maple Leafs but has otherwise been ineffective since returning from a wrist injury that cost him nine games in November and early December. He has nine goals and 19 points in 26 games on the season, a significant decline from last season’s 47 goals and 94 points.
Elsewhere from the Eastern Conference today:
- The Maple Leafs recalled center Pontus Holmberg from AHL Toronto yesterday, per CapFriendly. Holmberg, who is still waiver-exempt, has been ferried up and down between leagues frequently this season to serve as injury insurance for the Maple Leafs. He last played on December 16 against the Penguins and has one assist in eight games this season, averaging 8:53 per game. He was a healthy scratch for last night’s loss against the Senators. The 24-year-old Swede has excelled at the AHL level this season, potting ten points in 11 games.
- Penguins defenseman Kris Letang is a member of one of the most venerable trios in hockey history with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but he’s often been overshadowed by the achievements of his peers. He took home a milestone of his own last night, however, setting an NHL record by registering five assists in the second period against the Islanders – the most ever in a single period by a defenseman. He added another assist in the third, giving him a six-point night and bringing him to 0.7 points per game on the season, much closer to the pace we’re accustomed to seeing from him. The 36-year-old is still barely ahead of Erik Karlsson for the highest average time on ice on the team (24:40) and is now second on the team in assists behind Jake Guentzel with 20. Letang has four seasons remaining after this on a contract carrying a $6.1MM cap hit.
- Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk was in a regular jersey at practice today, according to the Boston Globe’s Conor Ryan, signaling he’s close to returning. Grzelcyk, 29, has missed the last three games with an upper-body injury and is listed as day-to-day. He is not on injured reserve and is eligible to re-enter the lineup at any time. While he’s held a top-pairing role alongside Charlie McAvoy for most of the season, he may be losing out on his spot. Grzelcyk is currently in one of the worst stretches of his career, posting just one goal and a -3 rating in 20 contests this season while averaging 17:04 per game. 22-year-old rookie Mason Lohrei has seen looks with McAvoy in Grzelcyk’s absence and has put up better stats in more minutes, posting six points and a -1 rating in 18 contests while averaging 17:24 per contest.