ROCHESTER – It rarely happens. In fact, it might have been a first. Five days after posting a 30-save shutout, the Americans scratched a healthy Andrey Makarov for their next game, Friday’s 5-0 loss to Albany.
The loquacious Makarov, 22, watched from the stands wearing a suit.
Two years ago, Makarov was developing into the Buffalo Sabres’ best young goalie. After the Amerks recalled the undrafted Russian from the ECHL late in 2013-14, he posted a .927 save percentage in 10 games, helping the AHL club secure a playoff spot. Makarov even dressed for some NHL contests.
But having been bypassed on the depth chart – Ullmark and newcomer Jason Kasdorf should be Rochester’s goalies next season – Makarov’s three-year run in the organization is almost certainly over.
“Yeah, it’s tough, a fun few years, it can be better,” Makarov, who always seems to be smiling, said Thursday inside the Blue Cross War Memorial.
The Sabres likely won’t tender the restricted free agent a contract, freeing him to possibly go home and play in the KHL.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen next,” Makarov said.
Makarov couldn’t duplicate his early AHL success. Still, he played well at times for two Amerks teams that missed the playoffs, earning his only NHL start with the Sabres late last season.
After Makarov’s save percentage dipped to .905 in 39 appearances in 2014-15, he improved to a team-best .916 in 22 games this season.
When Lieuwen returned from Buffalo last week, with no stall for him, Makarov began using his own room across the hallway from the main dressing room.
Makarov’s shutout was the last game he suited up for this season.
“Through a situation like this, which definitely isn’t easy, I think he’s done a great job – smile on his face, good around the guys, not letting a tough situation get the best of him,” Amerks veteran Matt Ellis said. “When asked upon, he’s performed. He pitched a shutout for us in Cleveland last weekend. It’s just that resilience. It’s a testament to his makeup.”