Travis Turnbull was never drafted into the NHL, but he’s certainly found a spot in the Buffalo Sabres organization – in the AHL for now, but on his way up.
The twenty-five year old Missouri native has hockey in his blood. He’s following in his father’s footsteps – Perry Turnbull played 608 career NHL games between 1979 and 1988 – and began his junior hockey career with the Sioux City Musketeers of the USHL.
Based in Iowa, Turnbull played there for parts of two seasons before becoming a part of the Michigan Wolves organization at the University of Michigan. He played four years of college hockey, scoring 30 goals and 50 assists total in 166 games played. With Turnbull on the team, the Wolves won the 2007-08 CCHA championship.
His pro career began on April 6, 2009, when the Sabres signed the undrafted Missourian to a two-year entry-level contract. He was assigned immediately to the Portland Pirates of the AHL, where he played three games at the close of that season.
After attending his first Sabres training camp in the fall of 2009, Turnbull once again suited up for the Pirates. In his first full AHL season, he played 57 games and tallied eighteen points (9-9). Also notable in that season were his 98 penalty minutes: proof that the 6-foot-tall, 194 youngster wasn’t afraid to get physical.
Due to a shoulder injury, he played just twenty games the next season, attaining nine points and 28 penalty minutes.
This season, as the Sabres’ farm team migrated to Rochester, Turnbull was back and ready to rock. In 63 games with the Amerks, he scored 12 goals and tallied 15 assists. An impressive statistic, however, really comes in the penalty minutes category – Turnbull had 117 penalty minutes in the regular season this year.
In addition to his successes in Rochester, Turnbull also saw his first NHL action. He played three games with Buffalo and scored his first NHL goal on March 23 before returning to the Amerks, where he’s now seeing some AHL playoff action as Rochester prepares to face Toronto in the first round. It’s possible that he sees more action in the big club next year – but for now, the red, white and blue suits him well.
You can follow him on Twitter at @TravisTurnbull9.