Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) – The Buffalo Sabres welcomed Alex Tuch and newly signed Mark Jankowski to practice on Monday.
Tuch is the winger acquired in the Jack Eichel trade with the Vegas Golden Knights, and is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. He was practicing in a non-contact sweater on Monday, but head coach Don Granato does not have a timeline for Tuch. Not for a few weeks, anyway.
Regardless of that, Granato said he loved having Tuch out there on the ice on Monday.
“It is exciting," he said. "We’re very excited as a staff, and I think the players were, as well.”
Tuch has been hoping to get back on the ice for practice, and said Monday was a good feeling.
"I was itching to get back on the ice," Tuch said following Monday's skate. "I’ve just tried to come in with a good attitude and put a smile on a couple of guys' faces, and bring some positive energy on the ice.”
It seems like Tuch is ahead of schedule in his rehab. He said he feels really good, and that he's progressing right on schedule.
Tuch was a Sabres fan growing up, but playing in Vegas, he really didn’t know what the players and the organization were about.
“Everyone in that locker room comes in and tries to do to the best of their abilities every single day," Tuch said. "They come in, work hard and they have a lot of fun, and it’s a really good group to be around. There’s a lot of positivity in the room, and honestly, it’s a room that’s been taken for granted in the league for a while. They’ve had some mishaps and stuff in the past, but now the room that we have comes in and works hard. I think it's going to make the City of Buffalo proud going forward.”
The Sabres signed forward Mark Jankowski on Sunday, as he had been playing on an American Hockey League deal with the Rochester Americans. Granato said they wanted Arttu Ruotsalainen to continue his development in Rochester.
“The timing was part of it," he said. "We felt Arttu wasn’t getting enough primary ice-time here, and we talk about putting our players into spots to succeed and become better. That seemed like a real easy and natural thing to do, and that was the primary focus. We want to make sure Arttu is developing as fast as he can, and we felt right now for the moment, putting him in Rochester can help him.”
Jankowski signed with the Amerks just before the start of the 2021-22 regular season because he knew it could possibly lead to a contract in Buffalo.
“Signing in Rochester led to my goal of getting back to the NHL, and I knew I was going to have to play well in Rochester," Jankowski said on Monday. "The coaching staff put a lot of trust in me, and I think I’ve earned the right to be here.”
Jankowski can play center or wing, but Granato doesn’t know if he’ll play on Monday because they do have some bumps and bruises.
Casey Mittelstadt was out there on Monday and centered a line with Tuch and Jankowski. Granato said Mittelstadt could potentially play on the road trip to Florida and Carolina.
The Seattle Kraken don’t have a great record, but in the past week, they’ve beaten the Washington Capitals, Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers. They also dominated the Sabres in Seattle back on Nov. 4 with a 5-2 win. Granato knows why they lost that game nearly three weeks ago.
“We did ourselves in the first time," he explained. "We didn’t handle their pressure well, they hurried us, and then we played hurried. So we hope to have a lot more calm and better support, and better execution.”
Former Sabres defenseman Will Borgen played his first game with the Kraken on Saturday. He played 13:51 in the win over the Panthers.
The Sabres took three out of four points over the weekend with a win over the Montreal Canadiens and an overtime loss to the Detroit Red Wings. Dustin Tokarski played both of those games and is expected to be back in net on Monday.
Join Schopp and the Bulldog for pregame coverage on WGR starting at 6 p.m. EST when they’ll be joined by Granato, Tuch and Jankowski.
Skinner – Thompson – Olofsson
Murray – Cozens – Okposo
Asplund – Girgensons – Bjork
Hinostroza – Eakin – Hayden
Jankowski – Mittelstadt – Tuch
Hagg – Miller
Dahlin – Pysyk
Bryson – Jokiharju
Butcher – Wolanin
***Photo: Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres)