BUFFALO – With a muscle strain sidelining winger Marcus Foligno, the 23 players on the ice Monday – 14 forwards, seven defensemen and two goalies – could comprise the Sabres’ opening-night roster, coach Ron Rolston said.
Foligno, who was injured last Sunday in Toronto, was placed on injured reserve Monday. The Sabres had to hit the 23-man roster limit by 5 p.m.
Rolston said Foligno could practice today. Still, he’s likely out for Wednesday’s season opener in Detroit.
“I don’t think one day is going to help in terms of being ready,” Rolston said inside the First Niagara Center.
Right now, the Sabres have three talented teenagers – winger Zemgus Girgensons, center Mikhail Grigorenko and defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen – on the roster.
But another prospect, 21-year-old center Johan Larsson, might’ve outplayed those youngsters during training camp, Rolston said. Larsson scored twice in five exhibition appearances.
“You could argue he might’ve been the best of all those guys in terms of competitive nature and camp,” Rolston said.
Larsson skated as an extra Monday, leading to speculation he could be sent down.
“I think everybody thinks it’s disappointing to go down,” Larsson said before Rolston said the Sabres didn’t need to make another move. “But I think I played good.”
Ristolainen, who will turn 19 on Oct. 24, is the team’s youngest player. At 34, defenseman Henrik Tallinder is the elder statesman. The team’s average age is 26.
In other roster news, 29-year-old defenseman Alexander Sulzer cleared waivers Monday and was assigned to Rochester with winger Luke Adam, who passed through Sunday.
Rolston said forward numbers forced the Sabres to shed a defender.
“Especially up front in terms of what we were dealing with with these younger players that we want to see,” he said. “You have to balance that out with your numbers on the back end. For Sulzy, you can’t say enough about his professionalism, what he brings every day, both off the ice and on the ice. It’s just a numbers situation there for us.”
Sulzer, a veteran of 106 NHL games, including 32 with the Sabres, hasn’t played in the AHL since 2009-10.
Meanwhile, Rolston still hasn’t named a new captain.
“Work in progress,” he said.
One could be named today before the Sabres leave for Detroit
The NHLPA has approved the hybrid icing rule that was tested during the preseason. Instead of chasing down the puck, players will now race to an imaginary line in the faceoff dots. Linesmen must make a judgment call.
The league wants to eliminate serious collisions near the end boards.
Sabres defenseman Nikita Zadorov is still with the club. The 18-year-old’s out about two weeks after injuring his finger Friday. He could return to junior soon.