BUFFALO – This is nothing new for Sabres winger Scott Wilson.
“Every team that I’ve been on I’ve pretty much been in this situation every year,” Wilson said after returning to practice this morning inside KeyBank Center.
Wilson, 27, spends just about every training camp fighting for a roster spot. Of course, last season he seemed to finally have one locked up.
Then Wilson broke his ankle late in camp.
Wilson faces a tough battle during the final week of camp to earn one of the 14 or so forward spots.
The UMass Lowell product skated as a spare forward today after hurting his groin in last Tuesday’s 4-1 exhibition road loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said Wilson is available to play Wednesday against the Columbus Blue Jackets, although a roster hasn’t been finalized.
Update: Wilson won’t play against Columbus.
The Sabres have 19 forwards left in camp.
“We’ve kept such a big roster because of how well everybody’s performed in training camp,” Krueger said. “We’d be comfortable with any mix of these 12 forwards starting for us.
“It’ll all come down to the kind of synergies we’re looking (for) in the lines and the balance that we need between some grit and some skill, some power play and some penalty kill.”
It wouldn’t be shocking to see Wilson start this season with the Rochester Americans. Wilson played 15 AHL games as a sort of prolonged conditioning assignment after his ankle healed last year.
The speedy Wilson has some things going for him. He can be moved to center and, having played 187 NHL games, is established. The Sabres might feel content keeping him as an extra forward and letting a youngster play in Rochester.
He also won two Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Wilson said battling for a roster spot every year “takes a toll.”
“But you either want to be here or you don’t, so … you kind of have to battle through and just kind of have the same mindset every year,” he said. “I’ve obviously done a decent job of it in my career, so I’m just trying to do the same thing, be a good guy and just take the positives from everything.”
The Sabres play their final preseason game Saturday afternoon on the road against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“However the (roster) decisions will fall, they won’t be based only strictly on these two games,” Krueger said. “We have a bank of history here.”
In other news, Jean-Sebastien Dea, a center the Sabres sent to Rochester on Monday, cleared waivers today.
Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen (sick) also returned to practice today.