Chad Ruhwedel was playing NCAA hockey earlier this week. ©2013, Gil Talbot, UMass-Lowell

Sabres rookie Chad Ruhwedel to make NHL debut hours after signing contract

BUFFALO – What does interim coach Ron Rolston know about defenseman Chad Ruhwedel, the free agent from UMass Lowell the Sabres signed to a two-year, entry-level contract today?

“Not much,” Rolston said this afternoon inside the First Niagara Center.

Rolston will know a whole lot about Ruhwedel by about 5:30 p.m. The 22-year-old, who finished his three-year NCAA career earlier this week, will made his NHL debut against the Philadelphia Flyers this afternoon.

Ruhwedel flew in this morning and just met Rolston and his teammates.

How hard will it be playing in the big leagues before practicing even once?

“Real tough, just jumping in the lineup and playing an afternoon game against a lineup like Philly’s will be a challenge,” Rolston said.

Ruhwedel, 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, compiled seven goals, 23 points and 21 penalty minutes in 41 games with UMass Lowell’s Frozen Four team.

Rolston said the San Diego native “skates well” and possesses a “good skill level.”

Why did the Sabres sign a college neophyte instead of recalling someone from Rochester to replace Tyler Myers, who broke a bone in his leg Thursday?

“We want to give him an opportunity here and see what he will do,” Rolston said, bypassing the question.

Who will Ruhwedel be paired with?

“He’ll be on defense,” Rolston said. “I have no idea. We’ll see how that goes.”

In other lineup news, John Scott will return after a one-game absence. The tough guy had been taking a regular shift for a few games.

“He’s playing physical,” Rolston said. “He always does that for you. He’s actually playing really good hockey for us, whether it’s taking pucks off the wall in our zone and breaking things out or just offensive zone play. He’s done a real good job of moving his feet and making things happen.”

Rolston wouldn’t name his starting goalie.

Update: Jhonas Enroth will start in goal. Luke Adam will sit for Scott. Ruhwedel is wearing No. 5.

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