Rochester Americans head coach Chadd Cassidy said recently-acquired prospect Johan Larsson will make his debut for the Sabres' organization on Friday. The former Wild prospect was acquired at the April 3 trade deadline as part of a deal that sent Buffalo captain Jason Pominville to Minnesota and Larsson, prospect goalie Matt Hackett and two draft picks to the Sabres.
Larsson, a 6-foot-0, 200 lb. forward, has spent most of the season in the American Hockey League this season with the Houston Aeros, scoring 37 points in 62 games. He also only has 89 shots on goal for the season. Both prospects will arrive in Rochester Thursday night.
“I know that he's a really good two-way centerman,” Cassidy said. “He's got some offensive upside that he probably hasn't tapped into yet, but he's a very smart player. He's been a captain for Sweden's World Junior team so that tells you about his character.”
Cassidy said Larsson is versatile with the ability to play both center and left wing. With Luke Adam in Buffalo, it's likely he'll play in the middle for the Amerks.
As for Hackett, he'll be on the bench for Friday night's game and is unlikely to unseat starting goaltender David Leggio. However, the Amerks have nine games left in the season, all bunched into three-in-threes. So there's a good chance the former Wild prospect goalie will get a chance in net at least once this weekend.
As for the playoffs, Leggio will probably get every start – as he should. In fact, with one of the AHL's best save percentages and the league's leader in Wins, there's a chance the Amerks' netminder could be the MVP of the entire AHL.
“If you look at the year that he's had and his ability to keep us in games,” Cassidy said. “Everyone deals with that, but not many can deal with it the way David does. He's been our rock. In my mind, there's no question he should be a candidate.”
Unsurprisingly, Leggio didn't have much to say about Hackett's presence, simply saying he's worried about the final nine games of the year. He also said he's not thinking too much about the possibility of being named MVP.
“It would be a tremendous honor if that were to happen, but it's not up to me,” Leggio said. “You start thinking about things off the ice like next year or this or that, that's when things start going South. It's nice for some people to say I'm in that conversation.
“I just have to focus on stopping that little black thing.”
Matt Ellis has been with the Sabres' organization since 2008 – almost all of that was on the same club as Jason Pominville. Ellis talked Thursday morning about the Sabres' move to send Pominville to Minnesota.
“He's been a great teammate, a great friend of mine,” Ellis said. “We live in the same neighborhood in Buffalo and spend a lot of time together. It's tough. He put his heart and soul into the team and was a great professional. I've learned a lot from him along the way and shared some good experiences with him.
“It's unfortunate because when someone like that gets moved, it's a sign that things aren't going well.”