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Corey Tropp has missed the whole season. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Corey Tropp nearing return from broken jaw; rookie Nikita Zadorov could stay all season

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Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald

BUFFALO – Before Corey Tropp broke his jaw fighting Toronto’s Jamie Devane Sept. 22, the Sabres winger, who tore up his right knee last season, enjoyed some peace of mind.

The few doubts the 24-year-old had about the injury vanished during the preseason.

“I grew that confidence with each day of training camp,” Tropp, who could make his season debut this weekend, said this afternoon following practice inside the First Niagara Center. “‘Oh, I’m still the exact same player I was, to be honest. Maybe a little bit better skater.’”

Tropp has tried to embrace being sidelined these last five weeks. He’s a big believer you can still develop skills while you’re injured.

“Obviously, it sucks being injured,” Tropp said. “The one thing we preach here and the training staff preaches, if you are injured, you can find ways to make your game better. I think instead of getting (ticked) off and negative about whole situation, I tried to approach every day as, ‘Yeah, it sucks, but there’s still a chance I can get better in a certain area of my game.’”

Sabres coach Ron Rolston said Tropp’s out for Thursday’s game against the Rangers in New York. The Sabres host Anaheim Saturday.

“The next couple days will tell,” Tropp said.

Tropp, whose non-contact jersey is off, hasn’t been fully cleared yet.

Meanwhile, 18-year-old defenseman Nikita Zadorov might be sticking with the Sabres all season.

The Russian rookie has impressed through five appearances. The Sabres can play him nine times before the first year of Zadorov’s entry-level deal kicks in.

“We could keep him right until the 82-game cutoff,” Rolston said when asked if the Sabres would keep him beyond nine games. “Yeah, he’s been playing well. Would you send him down? He’s pretty good.”

The 16th overall pick has been averaging 16:34 an appearance.

In other news, the Sabres retained 19.5 percent of Thomas Vanek’s $6.4 million salary in Sunday’s trade with the New York Islanders, according to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston.

The Sabres also kept money in last season’s Jason Pominville trade with Minnesota.

Related: Sabres’ Corey Tropp practicing again, not upset with Jamie Devane for breaking jaw

Sabres prospect Tropp likely done for season

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