We continue our series about Buffalo Sabres history, with each day’s post highlighting a player to have worn the subsequent jersey number with the Buffalo Sabres. This series is not designed to say that any player is the ‘best’ to have worn that jersey number, but rather to allow fans to get a taste of the team’s history and learn more about some of the players in it.
Last season, Connor Knapp became the first player in Sabres history to wear jersey number 49 when he suited up for the team in April. He played just two games with the Sabres after a season that saw him in the ECHL and AHL, and now he’s moved on, but he’ll always be known as the first Sabres player to wear #49.
Knapp was originally drafted by the Sabres, picked up with the 164th overall selection in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. He finished out four years of college hockey at Miami University (Ohio) before making the jump to the AHL. But over the next few years, he struggled to find a spot in the AHL and was often sent down to the ECHL.
The 2012-13 season marked Knapp’s first year with the Amerks. But he played just seven games with Rochester, appearing in 12 games with the Greenville Road Warriors.
Last season saw Knapp play for five different teams at three different levels.
He began the season with the Amerks but was reassigned to Greenville in mid-October. He’d play 16 games with the Road Warriors, but also appear in games with the Florida Everblades and Alaska Aces.
Amidst reassignments, he also got called up to the NHL for the first time in his career, thanks to the numerous goaltending injuries that the Sabres organization suffered near the end of last season.
He appeared in his first NHL action on April 12 against the Boston Bruins, allowing one goal on seven shots in 11 minutes and 35 seconds of ice time. Knapp came in to relieve Matt Hackett, who suffered an injury in the third period and was taken off the ice on a stretcher. Knapp became the sixth goaltender to see action for the Sabres last season.
He also played in the next game, the April 13th home meeting with the New York Islanders. Knapp had 22 saves in nearly 65 minutes of action; the Sabres lost in a shootout to wrap up the season.
This offseason, the Sabres elected not to tender a qualifying offer to Knapp.
This move didn’t come as much of a surprise, particularly with the wealth of goaltending prospects the Sabres currently hold. From Jhonas Enroth and Michal Neuvirth in Buffalo to Nathan Lieuwen and Andrey Makarov down in the AHL, plus pipeline guys such as Linus Ullmark and Jonas Johansson…. the Sabres already have a lot of goalies in the system and Knapp simply didn’t have a spot anymore.
He hit free agency and signed an AHL deal with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, AHL affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers. He has the option of playing in the ECHL with the Reading Royals, so he’ll likely end up playing in either Lehigh Valley or Reading this coming season.
Other players to wear #49 for the Sabres: None.