Brandon Biro celebrates his goal Wednesday. ©2023, Micheline Veluvolu, Rochester Americans

Sabres prospect Brandon Biro quietly becoming elite AHL talent with Amerks

ROCHESTER – Last month, Buffalo Sabres prospect Brandon Biro approached Americans coach Seth Appert with a simple question: am I still playing well?

Biro, 25, had been on a tear nearly all season, scoring at more than a point per game clip. In December, he had six consecutive two-point outings and 16 points in 10 contests.

Then, suddenly, the center hit an offensive rut when the calendar turned to 2023. He endured a seven-game point drought and mustered just one assist over 11 appearances.

So Biro requested Appert’s input. Over their three seasons together, Appert said they’ve developed a strong relationship and trust in each other.

“That’s why he probably asked me the question, trying to confirm in his mind what he was seeing what he was thinking,” he said after Biro scored the first goal in Wednesday’s 2-0 win over the Laval Rocket at Blue Cross Arena.

Biro believed he was playing well and showcasing the tenacious two-way game Appert often lauds. He wasn’t, however, getting rewarded on the score sheet.

“I felt like I was playing pretty similar to right now, and things are going in now,” said Biro, who has compiled 15 goals and 50 points in 47 games this season. “And … I don’t know if I’ve ever really had a stint like that in my career. Like, nothing was going in at all.”

Appert reassured Biro he was doing the right things – “I was like, ‘You’re playing great,’” he said – and that he would eventually be rewarded.

“So it was a good confidence booster for him to be on the same page,” Biro said.

It’s no coincidence Biro took off again around that time. Over the past 10 games, he has morphed into one of the AHL’s hottest scorers, compiling five goals and a whopping 19 points. He has a five-game point streak entering tonight’s road contest against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

“He’s been our best player all year,” Appert said. “Did he have a hair of a dip? Yeah, but only offensively, never competitiveness, never defensive detail, never penalty kill. He’s our best defensive forward, he is our No. 1 penalty killer and he’s our leading scorer. That’s a rare combination. Very seldom is your team’s leading scorer your best penalty killer, your best defensive player.”

On March 1 in Laval, the 5-foot-11, 170-pound Biro recorded his first pro hat trick. Last Friday in Rochester, he set career highs with five points and four assists, part of an eight-point weekend over three games.

In Wednesday’s win, he was perhaps the best skater on the ice. While killing a penalty early in the second period, he intercepted a pass at the point before zooming into the Laval zone and beating goalie Cayden Primeau from the right circle.

Appert said that short-handed goal can be traced to Biro’s work each morning honing his shot in the shooting room in the basement of the rink.

“He could not score that goal two years ago, not even close,” he said.

Earlier in the game, Biro generated a short-handed breakaway. He also recorded an assist on winger Lukas Rousek’s empty-net goal.

“As great as he is offensively, he’s a better defensively,” said Appert, who believes Biro has recently “added more physicality and a little more bite to his game.”

Biro has mostly flown under the radar as a prospect. The Sabres’ previous regime signed him to an entry-level contract as a free agent out of Penn State three years ago Saturday.

After playing 15 times for the Amerks during the COVID-19 shortened 2020-21 season, he quietly put together a terrific rookie campaign, scoring 12 goals and 41 points in 45 outings and earning a one-game recall to Buffalo for his NHL debut.

But the exploits of rookies JJ Peterka and Jack Quinn, two high draft picks, often overshadowed Biro.

This season, the Sabres have remained remarkably healthy up front, rarely dipping into Rochester’s forward corps. Riley Sheahan played two games in November and Anders Bjork played one. Only one other forward, Vinnie Hinostroza, has played for the Sabres after being recalled.

“In a normal year when the Sabres aren’t as healthy as they have been up front, he’s probably had call-ups in there, which boosts your energy and your confidence and your hope,” Appert said.

Sooner or later, Biro, who has another year left on his contract, could receive another opportunity in Buffalo. He was selected for the AHL All-Star Classic in February but pulled out because of an injury.

Since the Sabres affiliated with Rochester again in 2011, only one player, Quinn, has averaged more than a point per game over at least 45 outings. Quinn scored 26 goals and 67 points in 45 contests last season.

Biro might become the second.

“His consistency of habits over time has gotten him to the point he’s at now,” Appert said.

3 thoughts on “Sabres prospect Brandon Biro quietly becoming elite AHL talent with Amerks”

  1. Can Buffalo ever cultivate any forward prospects that are 6’1 , 6’2 , or 6’3 ? Every time I read about some up and coming prospect they drafted that can skate,that can shoot,that can score ….he is either 5′,8 , 5′,9 , or 5’10 or smaller. This has been going on for years. I dont have to name the players. Just look at the present day roster…. Thompson and Tuch were acquired in trades and Girgenson is fading out. And then you wonder all of a sudden “gee, I dont think we are physical enough ( duh!)
    But wait ! ….we had a guy named Josh Bloom (6’2) can skate,can score,play physical…we better trade him ! doesnt meet our criteria !

  2. Frank, I call these guys hood ornaments, small enough to skate like the wind and hit like that too.
    I’ve said for years and years that all we need is a top scout from the Bruins organization and it will take two years to end this.
    The year Milan Lucic was an all WHL forward in Vancouver,we passed on his size and talent for the Baltic Bombshell, the Legendary Dennis Person, a DMan who never played a shift up here. Nothing ever changes…or will.

    1. We also passed on Lucic in the second round to pick Jonas Enroth. Duncan Keith got picked shortly after Enroth as well. Hindsight GM is the best job in the world.

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