Lindy Ruff told the media on Tuesday that Patrick Kaleta has not been cleared to play in the preseason yet, due to neck stiffness. Kaleta is supposed to play on Thursday. While that may concern some Sabres fans as Kaleta is definitely a fan favorite, if Kaleta was not able to play, it would clear some space on the roster to allow some to break through, someone like Zack Kassian.
Kassian still does not have an entry-level contract signed with the Buffalo Sabres after talks stalled during the summer due to Kassian's legal issues, but Kassian has been the standout player of the preseason at this point. Kassian only has one assist in three games, but has been a force on the ice. Kassian's first shift on the ice, he came out and tried to show that he was a wrecking ball, unofficially registering two hits in less than a minute.
Kassian has been quieter in the second and third preseason games, but his play has still been consistent and he hasn't been a liability as of yet. How Kassian plays in the rest of the preseason will determine how quickly the entry level contract will be signed and whether he gets a nine game tryout with the big club.
If Kassian isn't considered, then Cody McCormick will find himself with a guaranteed starting spot. In the preseason game against the Senators, McCormick officially fought twice, once against Eric Gryba and the other against Cody Bass. McCormick is proving that he still has that fighting edge, the same one that allowed him to rack up 168 penalty minutes in 66 games with the Portland Pirates last season.