With Patrick Kaleta's four-game suspension underway, Corey Tropp was called up from the Rochester Americans for his first chance to represent the Buffalo Sabres in an NHL regular season game against the Flames on Friday. For those unfamiliar with Tropp, here is a short bio tracing the path he took to get to the NHL.
At 6' and 183lbs, Michigan native Tropp is the latest in the line of bigger forwards with offensive prowess the Sabres have been looking to draft over the last couple of years in an attempt to shed the 'small' reputation they have been tagged with since the lockout. And just like Zack Kassian and Marcus Foligno, Tropp has not been afraid to bring the grit to the ice. While the term 'grit' has been loosely bandied about the last few years, Tropp personifies the toughness that is associated with it.
More after the jump.
A right winger, Tropp started off in the USHL with the Sioux Falls Stampede where he played for two years, leading them to the championship in his second year. His 54 games in 2006-07 were a combination of 62 points and 76 PIMs, and he went on to win All-Star Game MVP honors that year.
During his three-year tenure as a Michigan State Spartan, he racked up more PIMs along with scoring 29G and 41A. Actually he comes with quite a bad reputation out of college, having played his part in a horrific mugging of Steven Kampfer, which resulted in his suspension for the rest of his sophomore year. Tropp rebounded well in his junior year to lead the Spartans with 42 points and signed with the Sabres after that, foregoing his senior year.
There are high hopes that Tropp will not just settle into a checking line role. Dubbed the Spartans' most explosive and consistent scorer, he was the MVP in his junior year and was ranked nationally as well in various scoring categories. Tropp is a hardworking and fearless forward, and led the AHL's Portland Pirates with nine fighting majors last year while accumulating 10G and 30A. In the playoffs he continued his streak with seven points.
The 22-year-old continued his upward curve into the offseason, with an excellent performance in development camp in July. In the camp finale, he scored a hat-trick and was all around game MVP, strong on the forecheck, getting back to defend and battling for the puck all around. He went on to score one goal in two games for the Sabres during the preseason. With the Amerks this season he is tied for second in goals scored with four in ten games.
Coach Lindy Ruff hasn't utilized his offensive skills much so far, preferring to use him on the fourth line with grinders Matt Ellis and Cody McCormick. The trio has been mostly defensively responsible so far, and Tropp even scored Tuesday night in a wild and woolly one against the Jets, opening his NHL account when he stuffed in a rebound off his own shot. The rookie appears to have made quite the 24 karat impression in the locker room too, being 'awarded' the gold helmet for the media session after the game.
It is expected that Tropp will be sent back to Rochester after the Senators' visit to FN Center on Friday when Kaleta becomes eligible to play again. This would be interesting because the next day Sabres will be in Boston to take on the Bruins where Kampfer now plays, although he hasn't dressed for a game since Oct 22nd.
Here's a tidbit for the trivia buffs - Tropp wears #78 for the Sabres, making him only the fourth player in the history of the NHL to don the number. The other three were Pavol Demitra (Ottawa Senators), Eric Landry (Montreal Canadiens), and Marc-Antoine Pouliot (Edmonton Oilers).