Colton Gillies hasn’t played an NHL game in over a year, but all that could change if the Buffalo Sabres sign him to a two-way contract for the 2014-2015 season.
After spending a season with the AHL’s Rochester Americans, Gillies has the potential to be signed to a two-way deal that would allow him to make his return to the NHL, if the Sabres – or another team – are willing to make the move.
Gillies, a 6’4″, 208-pound center, brought a physical game and solid skating ability to the Rochester Americans roster this past season. He brought size and hustle and wasn’t afraid to throw the body around and hit somebody. He didn’t make a huge impact on the scoresheet, but managed to rack up nine goals and 14 assists in 65 games.
He was pretty solid on the power play – a third of his goals on the season came with the man advantage.
And in five games of the playoffs with Rochester, Gillies notched one goal and one assist, five shots on goal and 11 penalty minutes.
Now, many are wondering if the Sabres might sign him to a two-way deal for next year.
After all, Buffalo is where he spent training camp last summer, as a free agent invited to the Sabres camp after spending the previous years with the Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets. He scored a goal in an exhibition game against 18-year-old Zach Fucale of the Montreal Canadiens, but the Sabres eventually released him from his camp tryout.
Shortly after that, he signed an AHL contract with the Rochester Americans.
It was a one-year, one-way deal that was guaranteed to keep Gillies in Rochester for the season; even if another NHL team wanted to pick him during the year, the contract wouldn’t permit that.
Just like that, Gillies returned to the AHL, a league he hadn’t appeared in since 2011 during his time with the Houston Aeros, farm club of the Wild.
He made his Rochester Americans debut on October 4, 2013 in a game against the Grand Rapids Griffins. A week later, he notched his first point in the red, white and blue – an assist on a Dan Catenacci goal in a game against the Utica Comets on October 11.
Arguably the best month of the season for Gillies was January, when he notched six points in 12 games. That includes a January 3rd game that saw him notch two assists, four shots, two penalty minutes and end the game as a plus-3.
While he may never lead a team in scoring, Gillies brings something else to the table; among other things, he’s been noted for his size and skating ability, as well as his capacity to throw a hit. Had he signed a two-way deal last season, the Sabres would likely have recalled Gillies toward the end of the season when the injury bug hit hard.
He became a valuable asset to the Rochester Americans team, and as a free agent this summer, the former 16th-overall draft pick could be in the eyes of several NHL teams.
Originally a 2007 draft pick of the Wild, could Colton Gillies make his return to the NHL next season with the Buffalo Sabres? Or could another NHL team nab him to a deal for the 2014-2015 season, putting his size and grit to good use elsewhere?
Personally, I’d like to see him stay in the Sabres organization. He definitely brought a physical presence to the Amerks roster, and it would’ve been a good asset to have in Buffalo towards the end of the season. Signing him to a two-way deal may not guarantee him an NHL spot next season, but it would at least open the option. Of course, there’s always the chance that another NHL team could offer him a deal that might make it easier for him to spend next season in the big league, and he might be more likely to accept that, so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens in the offseason.