The period of NHL free agency is barely three days old, and yet there’s been quite a few changes to the AHL’s Rochester Americans lineup. Here, we’ll take a look at last year’s roster and – so far – who will be back and who won’t be returning to the minor-league affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres.
Several players will definitely not be returning to the Amerks’ lineup next season.
Veteran forward Mark Mancari, who was a source of leadership on the team, became a free agent and signed a one-year, two-way contract with the St. Louis Blues on July 5. If he returns to the AHL, he’ll be playing on the Chicago Wolves – a team he played with during the 2011-12 season as part of the Vancouver Canucks organization.
Tough guy Nick Tarnasky also won’t return to the team. Like Mancari, he signed a one-year, two-way contract – with the Montreal Canadiens. If he ends up in the AHL next season, it will certainly be interesting seeing him and the Hamilton Bulldogs face the Amerks.
Defenseman Alex Biega signed with the Vancouver Canucks after hitting the free agent market. It’s uncertain if he’ll end up in the NHL or AHL next season, but many have considered it a depth signing for the team.
Defenseman Adam Pardy is also not returning to the Americans – or the Sabres – next season. After the Sabres refused to offer him a one-way contract, he went looking for it elsewhere, and found it with the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets. Pardy signed a one-year deal with the Jets on July 6.
Netminder David Leggio is assumed gone at this point. The Sabres haven’t made him an offer yet, and it’s expected that Leggio will look elsewhere than his hometown team for a chance to play in the NHL.
Forward Jacob Lagace and defenseman Drew Schiestel were not given qualifying offers.
Still in the free agent mix: forwards Luke Adam, Brian Flynn and Corey Tropp. Flynn spent part of last season up with the Sabres, and if he returns to the organization next season, he may return to Buffalo’s roster rather than return to the AHL. Tropp may also make a case for himself for a spot on the Sabres roster.
Defenseman Nick Crawford and goaltender Matt Hackett are also restricted free agents, still to be signed by the Sabres.
Add to all of this the departure of defenseman Mark Pysyk to the Sabres – where he’ll certainly compete for a spot this season – and forward Cody McCormick, who would have to clear waivers to return to Rochester. Veteran forward Patrick Rissmiller is assumed gone – he’s nowhere to be found on Capgeek – and prospect Corey Fienhage, the same. Oh, and throw in defenseman Drew Bagnall, who was signed by the Buffalo Sabres for the Americans roster.
That’s quite a lot of changes in a short amount of time for the Rochester Americans squad – and the summer has just begun. Either way, the team stepping out on the ice at Blue Cross Arena when the Amerks open their season this October will look significantly different from the one that ended the playoffs by dropping out to the Toronto Marlies.