Rochester coach Seth Appert spent two games with Buffalo this season. ©2024, Micheline Veluvolu, Rochester Americans

Could the Sabres promote Rochester Amerks coach Seth Appert to Buffalo?

BUFFALO – General manager Kevyn Adams wants his new head coach to have already run an NHL bench, so the Sabres likely won’t consider Rochester Americans coach Seth Appert for their open job.

“Previous NHL head coaching experience, pedigree, is important,” Adams said Tuesday in KeyBank Center after firing Don Granato.

Appert, 49, is a hockey lifer, having coached since his days as a college goalie ended in 1996. He has enjoyed success at every stop, winning two national titles as an assistant at Denver before an 11-year stint as the head coach at RPI.

Adams hired Appert in 2020 from the US National Team Development Program, giving him his first opportunity to coach pro hockey.

In each of Appert’s two full AHL seasons, he has won two series in the Calder Cup Playoffs. Last year, the Amerks advanced to the Eastern Conference Final.

Entering Friday’s game against the Cleveland Monsters, the Amerks stood tied for first place in the North Division.

Appert has won and developed prospects, most notably wingers JJ Peterka, whose 28 goals ranked second on the Sabres this season, and Jack Quinn.

“I think very, very highly of Seth Appert,” Adams said. “When I hired him … I told him I think maybe the hardest job in professional hockey is the AHL head coach job. It just is. Because you’re developing players. You’re trying to win. You’re dealing with younger players that have the ups and downs. He’s done a phenomenal job. He’s got a bright future.”

Could that bright future be in Buffalo? Adams said in the past he believes Appert will become an NHL head coach someday.

Appert’s only NHL head coaching experience came this season, when he subbed two games when Granato was sick. He has also filled in as an assistant.

Knowing Appert will likely draw interest from other NHL teams, the Sabres could promote him to an assistant in Buffalo. Jason Christie was fired along with Granato, so there’s an opening.

“My biggest thing with Seth right now is I want him to be completely focused and locked in on Rochester,” Adams said. “They have three games left here, which are critical games, and they have, I truly believe, an opportunity to do something special in the playoffs with the talent they have on the roster. And I also know how much that’ll help our guys. But, big, big believer in Seth Appert.”

Having established himself as the Sabres’ No. 1 and a top-flight NHL goalie over the past three and a half months, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen will be in for a healthy pay raise this offseason.

Luukkonen, 25, just finished a two-year, $1.675 million contract. He can become a restricted free agent this offseason.

“We have started to kind of see what we want to do here and started the talks, but nothing too crazy yet,” Luukkonen said Thursday of a new contract.

From Jan. 1 until the end of the regular season, Luukkonen compiled a 20-14-2 record with a 2.31 goals-against average, a .919 save percentage and four shutouts in 36 games.

During that stretch, his shutout total tied for the league lead. His wins, goals-against average, save percentage and game total all ranked in the top 10 among regular netminders.

Luukkonen could command a salary of perhaps $4 or $5 million per year. Given he has spent just half a season as a starter and the Sabres also have goalie prospect Devon Levi in Rochester, they might want to give him a short-term contract.

The Finn, of course, is open to signing a longer deal.

“I think that’s what everybody wants, to sign a long-term contract,” he said. “I like Buffalo. … We have a really, really good group of guys here who signed for a longer contract. In the end, I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I for sure would not be against it.”

Sabres forward prospect Noah Ostlund, 20, made his AHL debut for the Amerks on Friday.

Ostlund, the 16th overall pick in 2022, recently completed his first season in the Swedish Hockey League, scoring 12 goals and 23 points in 38 games for Vaxjo HC.

6 thoughts on “Could the Sabres promote Rochester Amerks coach Seth Appert to Buffalo?”

  1. -He’ll be inexpensive once they have to pay him for 2 years after firing him.
    -They don’t have to search very much and bear getting turned down by a bunch of experienced, premium coaches.
    -They still won’t make the playoffs and will still be able to fault the fan base for the team’s shoddy finances
    -No other team would consider him qualified for a head coaching job in the NHL right now.

    Or, as Terry Pegula will say, “he’s perfect.”

    Hehe. Sorry; this was a good piece. 13 years will make a gal cynical though!

  2. Just want to say i enjoy your column and the style of reporting. I used to have a direct subscription by email, I guess that went away when your column got picked up by the Olean newspaper. I find your column and other reporter’s articles out of Buffalo have a much better quality of content and accuracy than other sources who don’t invest much time in regards to the Sabres because of their record the past 10+ years. I always look forward to your posts, through Yardbarker. Buffalo Hockey Beat is Number 1 in my book.

  3. Hire Appert.
    Quit drafting Smurfs
    Trade our 1st rounder for Coleman
    Trade Rosen & Bryson
    Trade Skinner (Eat 1/2) & Krebs + 2nd for Marchenko
    Sign Marchessault
    Sign Dumba
    Sign UPL long-term
    Promote Kulich, Savoie, Johnson. Ostlund (soon)
    Playoffs Bound

  4. GM Adams. Are you watching Game 1, Toronto @ Boston ?
    Do you think this undersized, soft Sabres team is built to take on the Bruins in the playoffs ? Let me answer that for you >>>>
    Hell Freakin’ No.
    You better get some bigger bodies on this team with grit and fierce determination !!!

  5. Adams should be fired for his decision to hire Ruff. He has no vision for the future of the Sabre’s. His inability to lead this team is a dusgrace. Shame in the Pegula’s for not holding him accountabile for their failures.

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