BUFFALO – Having undergone season-ending surgery as the Rochester Americans began the Calder Cup Playoffs, Sabres prospect Brandon Biro had a tough time watching his teammates compete.
Biro, 25, stayed with the Amerks throughout the spring, sharing in the emotions that accompanied their wins and losses. He never lost his competitiveness.
“The tough part was I didn’t think there was any chance I was going to be able to be back at all in the playoffs,” said Biro, who had his lower-body injury repaired in late April.
But the Amerks kept winning, downing two opponents and advancing to the AHL Eastern Conference finals. Suddenly, Biro, who was progressing ahead of schedule, saw an opportunity materializing to return.
If the Amerks, whose season ended June 2, had beaten the Hershey Bears in the Eastern Conference finals, the forward believes he could’ve played again.
“I think if we would’ve got to the (Calder Cup) finals, I would’ve been healthy and ready to play for the finals, which kind of made it all that more difficult,” he told the Times Herald on Thursday in KeyBank Center.
Biro endured a difficult yet rewarding season, setting career highs across the board while battling injuries that likely cost him time with the Sabres.
When he was healthy, Biro ranked among the AHL’s most prolific scorers, registering 16 goals and 51 points in 49 games. He finished the season scorching, recording seven goals and 20 points in his final 12 outings.
But he left the lineup injured four times: in mid-November, late January, mid-March and, following a one-game return, early April.
“Brandon’s a guy that we had watched quite a bit,” Sabres coach Don Granato said Tuesday after Biro recorded one goal and two points in a 4-1 preseason win over the Boston Bruins. “We had talked a lot last year about him being called up, and, unfortunately, injuries took him out of it a few times. But he’s a guy that I’ve become very familiar with over the last couple of seasons. There’s nothing he’s doing here that surprises me.”
So far this preseason, the 5-foot-11, 170-pound Biro has quickly grabbed the Sabres’ attention again. He began Thursday’s road game against the Pittsburgh Penguins having compiled a team-high three points and also scored a nifty shootout winner.
In Sunday afternoon’s 4-3 win over the Washington Capitals, he set up winger JJ Peterka’s breakaway goal before showcasing his soft hands to clinch the game.
On Tuesday, he assisted on defenseman Riley Stillman’s goal before scoring from the left circle. On Thursday, he skated at left wing with Peterka and center Casey Mittelstadt.
The Sabres have just one or maybe two forward spots available, meaning Biro, who played one game for Buffalo in 2021-22, might have a difficult time cracking the team out of training camp.
Still, if he returns to Rochester – he must clear waivers this season – he could be one of the first forwards in line for a recall.
“If I end up here, that’s exciting, and obviously that’s the goal,” said Biro, a free agent the Sabres’ previous regime signed out of Penn State in 2020. “But if I end up getting sent down, nothing changes. … It’s been a long road to get here.”
Biro’s proud of his path to Buffalo and the dues he has paid. He went undrafted and played four years of college hockey. Even as he has emerged as a top scorer in Rochester, other prospects have overshadowed him.
“Even when I was first here my first couple years, I don’t know if I was necessarily seen as someone who might play in the NHL,” he said. “Maybe it was just kind of a wait and see what happens kind of thing when I signed here. And so I’m just grateful to be in this opportunity, and so if I don’t make the team out of camp, then so be it. I’ll do my best to get back here.”
Playing in Rochester would give another chance to work with Seth Appert, a coach he credits for much of success last season.
“I feel like I kind of built that trust up with him the last couple years,” Biro said. “So just kind of right off the start of the season I had that trust. He’s putting me in opportunities to succeed. I think that’s a huge thing is when you and your coach see eye to eye and you have the same vision for what you can bring to the table as your coach.”
— Buffalo Hockey Moments (@SabresPlays) September 24, 2023
Episode 4 of #Buffalo Press Box is out!@NickSabatoGNN and I analyze the Bills’ win over the Commanders, Sunday’s massive game w/the Dolphins and the #Sabres‘ busy week of preseason games:https://t.co/TwBYCsS2gY
— Bill Hoppe (@BillHoppeNHL) September 27, 2023