The Buffalo Sabres made a somewhat surprising move Monday evening, sending forward Alex Nylander to the AHL’s Rochester Americans. Although it wasn’t completely unexpected, it certainly seemed like Nylander would at least start the season with the NHL club.
He had a strong showing in the preseason with the Sabres, putting up five points - one goal and four assists - and leading the team. The skilled winger is now poised for his second season in the AHL after he put up 27 points (8-19) in 51 games with the Amerks last season.
Although he may have deserved a shot at the opening night roster in Buffalo, sending Nylander to the Amerks appears to be the right move in the end for his continued development as a player.
If he had been up in Buffalo, it’s likely that he would have found himself on the fourth line among players like Johan Larsson, Zemgus Girgensons and Evan Rodrigues. The Sabres have enough depth and talent in their crop of forwards as it is; there’s no need to rush Nylander’s development just to have him sit on the fourth line.
Yes, he could’ve ended up on the third line amid talent like Casey Mittelstadt and Kyle Okposo - and it’s certainly possible that the Sabres call up Nylander later in the season, and perhaps he finds a solid place on the NHL roster from that point on.
But at least for the time being, sending Nylander to Rochester to continue his growth there isn’t a bad move. Let him eat big minutes and contribute offensively in the AHL for now.
He performed well in camp and preseason at the NHL level, and there’s little doubt in my mind that he’ll be back in Buffalo soon. I’d argue that he’s the first forward I’d call up from the Amerks, aside from maybe Justin Bailey (who has, of course, more NHL experience.) He’s certainly one of Rochester’s top forwards.
More time in the AHL won’t hurt Nylander, and he’ll get to start the season in Rochester as the Amerks open their regular season this weekend with a pair of games against the Charlotte Checkers. Sending him down at this point will allow the youngster to get a few practices in with the AHL club before the season begins, and I bet he’ll be back with the Sabres before you know it.
Do you think Buffalo made the right move sending Nylander to Rochester?
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