Zach Benson has played six NHL games. ©2023, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres lose Zach Benson to injury, add Brandon Biro, Devon Levi

BUFFALO – The Sabres have lost one rookie to injury and added two to the lineup.

General manager Kevyn Adams said on Tuesday that winger Zach Benson, 18, aggravated a lower-body injury he has been dealing with and will be sidelined week to week.

With a roster spot available, the Sabres recalled forward Brandon Biro from the Rochester Americans. Biro, 25, practiced at right wing Tuesday alongside center Tage Thompson and Jordan Greenway. Coach Don Granato said Biro will play in tonight’s road game against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Meanwhile, goalie Devon Levi, out the last five games recovering from a lower-body injury, practiced Tuesday. He will likely back up Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen in Philadelphia.

Levi, 21, hasn’t played since Oct. 19, when he gutted out the end of a 4-3 loss to the Calgary Flames.

“The third period was tough,” said Levi, who started the first four games this season. “(The injury) was definitely there, just trying to play through it, try to do the best I can. But … I’m just so happy to be back in the lineup. It feels like it’s been 10 years since that game.”

Biro, who cleared waivers last month, will play his second NHL game and first since Feb. 23, 2022. Fresh off an impressive preseason in Buffalo, he enjoyed a terrific start in the AHL, compiling two goals and six points in his first five games.

“You have a goal in mind to make the team, but sulking and feeling sorry for yourself isn’t gonna do anything,” Biro said following Tuesday’s practice in KeyBank Center. “And the only way to get my opportunity is to look past it and keep working toward the future.”

Granato said Biro, a free agent the Sabres’ previous regime signed out of Penn State in 2020, is “skilled, evasive, intelligent, slippery”

“He can make plays with skill players,” he said. “He can play right wing, left wing, center. He’s done well in all three spots. But I think the real exciting thing for me is he complements other players. He’s the type of player you put on the ice and he enhances those around him because of his compete and his intelligence.”

Granato said if Biro hadn’t battled injuries last season – he left the lineup four times – he would’ve been recalled.

“He had a very good preseason, but it’s way more than the preseason,” he said. “This is a guy that we multiple times last year were ready to call him up and he was not healthy. He was injured in Rochester. So he had a very good first game with us. We were excited to get him back a couple of different times and just the timing was off for him.”

When he was healthy last season, Biro ranked among the AHL’s most prolific scorers, registering 16 goals and 51 points in 49 games. He finished the campaign on a tear, recording seven goals and 20 points in his final 12 outings.

Benson’s injury gives the Sabres more time to consider his future. The youngster, the 13th overall pick this year, has played six games, including Sunday afternoon’s 4-0 win over the Colorado Avalanche.

He can play nine games before the first-year of his entry-level contract kicks in. As a teenager whose rights are owned by a Canadian Hockey League team, the Wenatchee Wild, he cannot play in the AHL.

As he recovers from his injury, the Sabres believe Benson will keep acclimating to the NHL.

“You’re going to absorb things differently when you can have an opportunity,” Granato said. “And it is an opportunity to step back. So you take as an 18-year-old player coming into your first NHL season, everything’s a first. Everything is brand new. Going to Philadelphia is brand new for him today, which he’ll make the trip with us for that reason to take things in.”

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