BUFFALO – Mark Pysyk’s assignment to Rochester won’t last long, interim Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. The rookie defenseman will be back after the Americans participate in the upcoming Spengler Cup tournament in Switzerland.
Nolan said the steady Pysyk, one of the Sabres’ few bright spots this season, is capable of playing in the NHL right now.
“But is he at the mature level we think he can be? Not yet,” Nolan said Tuesday prior to the Sabres’ 4-2 win against the Winnipeg Jets inside the First Niagara Center. “He needs a little bit more time to mature. He’s going to be a different send down. He’s not going down for a long time. He’s going down a few days. They’re going over to the Spengler Cup, and he’ll join us right after that.
“We’re going to try to find the best way to get him quality minutes and develop him mature-wise. He’s not a big guy yet. As we go in the season, the games are going to get tougher and tougher.”
Pysyk’s minutes had been dipping under Nolan and he was scratched last game.
“Mark Pysyk is one of those guys we feel can be a future leader on this team,” Nolan said. “‘Future’ is the word, though.”
The Sabres also sent rookie defenseman Brayden McNabb and winger Luke Adam to Rochester on Tuesday.
Veteran forward Kevin Porter and rookie defenseman Chad Ruhwedel were recalled. Ruhwedel was scratched against the Jets.
“He’s here for safety reasons right now,” Nolan said about Ruhwedel.
Pysyk, who has four assists and a minus-11 rating, told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle the Sabres want him “to get bigger, stronger and play a more consistent game.”
“I agree with what they’re doing and what their plans are for me,” Pysyk said.
Sitting Saturday’s 2-1 overtime loss to Calgary made the 22-year-old cognizant he could get sent down any day.
“I kind of had the feeling in the back of my mind it could happen,” Pysyk said.
What has Nolan heard about the recalls?
“The same thing we’re hearing about Matty Ellis. They’re character type of guys,” Nolan said. “When you’re turning around an organization like this, you need good character guys to help some of the younger guys mature and play better and also fill in those gaps so the guys can go down to Rochester, get some really quality minutes, yet not miss too much here.”
The Sabres waived Porter, a favorite of former coach Ron Rolston, Oct. 24 after nine pointless appearances. The 27-year-old has six goals and 10 points in 13 AHL games.
“I thought there might be a chance,” Porter said about a recall. “I know they’re going to give guys shots, and they want to give some other young guys a shot.”
He skated on the left wing beside Matt Ellis and Brian Flynn on Tuesday.
Going to Rochester, where he had 15 goals and 44 points in 48 points last season, wasn’t a bad thing for Porter.
“Confidence is a huge thing for a lot of guys, especially me,” Porter said. “To score some goals and to get in some different situations, some penalty kill, some power play, that was good.”
Meanwhile, Ruhwedel has four goals and 14 points in 26 games. The 23-year-old played seven NHL games after leaving college late last season.
“I got thrown into the fire,” Ruhwedel said about his two weeks in the NHL. “Yeah, it was a little nerve-racking at first. But I think it benefitted me a lot. I grew … a lot as a person, as a player.”
McNabb had only played in two of the last seven games and had zero points in five appearances. Adam scored once in nine games.
Adam dominated the AHL earlier this season, compiling 13 goals and 18 points in 15 games and before forcing recall with McNabb on Nov. 20.
The Sabres want to give the Amerks a strong roster for the Spengler Cup, an annual tournament featuring European teams and other entries.
“There’s nothing like winning,” Nolan said. “Winning breeds winning.”
Center Cody Hodgson (lower body, two games) and defenseman Alexander Sulzer (lower body, five games) returned. The Sabres scratched tough guy John Scott.