The Rochester Americans roster has changed quite a bit over the summer. Even last season, players came and went throughout the year, particularly due to injuries on the NHL front. The Rochester Americans lineup lacked consistency, but there were a handful of players who brought veteran experience and leadership to the team. One such player was center Matt Ellis, who split last season between the Buffalo Sabres and the Rochester Americans.
Ellis, 32, has spent time with the Rochester Americans in each of the past two seasons. It wasn’t his first spin in the AHL – he played with the Portland Pirates in 2008-2011 and also spent four years with the Grand Rapids Griffins back in the day. But now, Ellis is a veteran, bringing that needed leadership role to an otherwise young Rochester Americans team.
Now, Ellis will return to the Buffalo Sabres organization once more in October. Whether he’ll end up in Rochester or Buffalo is uncertain at this point, but could he be named the next Rochester Americans captain if he is, in fact, designated to the American Hockey League?
Ellis spent most of last season with the Sabres, notching six points in 50 NHL games. But he also appeared in 25 games with the Rochester Americans, scoring five goals and five assists in that stretch. The prior season saw Ellis notch 12 points in 32 games with Rochester.
Last season, Ellis was the second-oldest player on the Rochester Americans roster, beat out only by Mike Zigomanis by a handful of months.
He was also one of the more experienced players on the team, just one of six players on the Amerks roster with over 100 NHL games of experience.
Of course, NHL experience isn’t the only thing that needs to be taken into account when naming a captain in the AHL.
After all, Drew Bagnall – who wore the C for part of last season – has just two games of NHL experience. Bagnall is still under contract for another year, but will he automatically get the C for the Amerks? Or will Chadd Cassidy put it up for grabs and make the players work for it in training camp, etc.?
Kevin Porter also had a leadership role with the team, but he’s gone now, signing a deal with the Detroit Red Wings. Also wearing an A last season in Rochester was Zigomanis, but his status going forward is uncertain, and it seems unlikely he’ll re-sign with the Amerks.
There’s a lot of questions going forward. Where will Matt Ellis wind up? Could he be named captain of the Amerks if he lands there? If not, maybe Bagnall gets the C and Ellis wears an A. Chadd Cassidy can do whatever he wants. Maybe the players will vote for a captain and it’ll be someone completely unexpected.
In the end, of course, a letter on a jersey means nothing — it’s what you put out on the ice and in the locker room that matters most.