It was just under three years ago when the Rochester Americans signed free agent Phil Varone to an AHL contract. Varone, a previous draft pick of the NHL’s San Jose Sharks, was coming off a career-best season with the Erie Otters of the OHL that saw the overager put up 81 points in just 55 games.
He signed with the Rochester Americans in September 2011 and played a breakout rookie season in Rochester, notching 52 points (11-41) in 76 regular season games. He also added three points in as many playoff games.
That outstanding rookie season led the young center to get an NHL contract with the Sabres, who signed him in March 2012.
Now, two years later, he’s coming off the best American Hockey League season of his career, and also saw the first NHL action of his career.
Here’s a look back at a season in review for Buffalo Sabres prospect Phil Varone.
Varone, 23, spent most of this season with the Rochester Americans. He has constantly been a steady centerman for the Amerks, and this season was no different. Varone put up career-highs in goals (18), assists (43) and points (61). He also put up 186 shots on goal in the regular season, the most he’s ever accomplished in one AHL season to date.
He led the Amerks in points scoring and assists, averaging 0.88 points/game during the regular season.
Varone started off this season with an eight-game point streak, notching 12 points in that stretch from October 4 until November 1. That would be the longest point streak of his season, though he’d scatter one four-game point streak and several three-game streaks throughout the season.
Statistically, The best games of his season were November 27 against Hamilton and March 8 against Syracuse, both three-point nights for Varone.
One particularly notable statistic is his shot count. Varone led the Amerks in shots – with Nick Deslauriers being the lone technical exception, though 217 of his 230 shots came with the Manchester Monarchs.
There were only four games throughout the regular season where Varone failed to register at least one shot on net.
Aside from his career-best NHL season, Varone also got his first NHL call-up to the Buffalo Sabres on January 22, 2014.
He played his first NHL game the following day against the Carolina Hurricanes, registering one assist and two shots on goal in over ten minutes of ice time. He also won sixty percent of the faceoffs he drew.
Varone stayed with the Sabres for nine games before being sent back to Rochester on February 7. Varone’s first NHL stint saw him notch his first career NHL goal on January 28 against the Washington Capitals. Overall, he registered two points (1-1), four penalty minutes and 15 shots on goal in his nine-game call-up.
Could Phil Varone earn another NHL call-up next season? I wouldn’t doubt it.