Checking in on the Rochester Americans

MANCHESTER, NH - FEBRUARY 13: Center Jason Spezza
MANCHESTER, NH - FEBRUARY 13: Center Jason Spezza /

Some of the very best talent the Buffalo Sabres have ever contained have come from a place not too far away. The Rochester Americans have developed a plethora of talent and the trend does not seem to be coming to a halt.

Chris Taylor‘s revamped squad has found their stride so far in the new campaign. Several players that have made an impact with the Rochester Americans have come right up to try and help the struggling Buffalo Sabres.

Unlike the Swords, the Americans sit in a pretty comfortable position in the AHL standings. Rochester is second in the North Division behind the Toronto Marlies, with 38 points in 28 games. The Amerks’ point total is good for fourth in the American League at the moment.

Rochester remained competent in the opening months of the season. Taylor’s side dropped three-straight games towards the start of October, but then went on to claim points in nine of their next 10 contests.

The results seem to have paralleled in the month of December. Rochester has posted the same point acquiring stat as mentioned before this month, including a 10-3 rout of the Binghamton Senators. The Sabres’ own Evan Rodrigues had a four-point night in that contest.

The Amerks haven’t been that strong at Blue Cross Arena, but they are absolute road warriors. Rochester currently boast a 9-1-3 record away from home ice this season, which is good for second-best in the league.

Of course, the Sabres’ minor league affiliate has to have some top contributors to their success this season. Look no further than the likes of C.J. Smith and Sahir Gill on the offense.

The duo have combined for 17 goals and 32 assists for 49 points. Smith and Gill are at the top of the Amerks in goals and assists. Smith’s 20 helpers are top five in the AHL right now, too.

What’s even more impressive, at least in Gill’s case, is he has only tallied 51 shots this season, which is right in the middle of the Amerks in that category. Furthermore, Gill is looking like the most accurate shooter on the team this season.

Brendan Guhle had his chance with Buffalo not too long ago, but it’s with the Amerks where he shines the most. To go along with his sublime defensive capabilities, the 20-year-old has notched six goals and 11 assists. Sabres fans can only hope Guhle can improve the defense in the upcoming years.

Buffalo have done a nice job rewarding the guys in Rochester who perform consistently. Players such as Kyle Criscuolo, Nicholas Baptiste, Rodrigues, Seth Griffith and Hudson Fasching have all worn the blue and gold this campaign. All of the mentioned players have had very good seasons in Rochester.

One player that stands out in particular is Alexander Nylander, who isn’t having the best of years. The young Sabres draft pick has only combined two goals and four assists for six points this season. Nylander led all Amerks rookies with 10 goals last season, but is way off pace to do the same this season.

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Linus Ullmark and Adam Wilcox have been more than brilliant in net for Rochester.

Wilcox is the perfect backup for the young Ullmark. He’s posted a 4-2-2 record with a .897 save percentage.

The duo of Robin Lehner and Chad Johnson hasn’t been working for the Sabres this season. Ullmark has been considered for a potential call up to Buffalo to replace one of the two.

The Swede definitely deserves it. The 24-year-old has boasted a 12-4-1 record with an impressive .921 save percentage. Ryan Miller learned and mastered his craft in Rochester, and it’s looking like Ullmark is starting to do the same.

Everything is clicking with the Amerks right now. The offense, defense and goaltending all do their respective parts to contribute to victory. Rochester are in form at the moment, and it can only be expected the solid play will continue into the new year for Rochester.

Overall, the Americans have what the Buffalo Sabres currently don’t.

Next: Why Jack Eichel needs to be the Sabres’ captain

Any Amerks worth giving another shot with the Buffalo Sabres? Who impresses you the most in Rochester? What’s gone wrong with Nylander? Let us know in the comments below.