By John Vogl
Ville Leino wanted to play Sunday, so he's certainly ready to make his season debut tonight for the Sabres. It will be up to interim coach Ron Rolston whether Leino plays against the Rangers.
"He’s been out for a while," Rolston said. "That’s really the next phase for him and [Jordan Leopold] is just that transition back into the team and coming in and helping the team be successful, one, but also fitting in with the team and getting that chemistry back because they’ve missed some time."
After hosting the Rangers, the Sabres don't play again until Saturday afternoon when Ottawa visits First Niagara Center. Rolston could hold Leino out again and let him practice with lines before inserting the forward.
If the Sabres do activate Leino and his ailing hip from injured reserve today, they'll need to make a roster move.The easiest one is to put Tyler Ennis on IR. Though Rolston said the center is day-to-day after getting stitches in his forehead Sunday night, Ennis is unlikely to play today.
If the Sabres feel Ennis will be ready by the weekend, they'll likely have to send a player to Rochester. Brian Flynn was the last forward called up, but he has goals in the past two games and worked on the power-play unit in practice Monday. Rolston likes what he's brought.
Kevin Porter can still be sent down without waivers, but if he plays tonight, he'll hit the 10-game threshold and would need to clear in order to return to Rochester. He also worked on the power play Monday, and Rolston again likes what he's brought.
The last remaining waiver-free player is Marcus Foligno. He got scratched in Florida two weeks ago and has one goal and eight assists in 25 games. Though he was supposed to be a second-line winger, he and Drew Stafford struggled alongside Ennis.
The Sabres could put a struggling veteran on waivers today, but that roster spot wouldn't open until Wednesday, which wouldn't allow them to activate Leino.