By Mike Harrington
TAMPA, Fla. -- The two newest Buffalo Sabres did not make it in time for the team's pregame skate today in the Tampa Bay Times Forum but Torey Mitchell and Michal Neuvirth are in town and ready to join their new team.
Mitchell will play in tonight's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning while Neuvirth will make his Buffalo debut as the starting goaltender tomorrow against the Florida Panthers. Neuvirth donned his Washington Capitals gear for a brief on-ice session with goaltending coach Jim Corsi while Mitchell did not skate.
"It' s a quick turnaround and you get to jump into a game right away," said Mitchell, acquired from Minnesota for Matt Moulson and Cody McCormick. "Guys who get traded say that's the best thing."
Mitchell, 29, played collegiately at Vermont and grew up in Montreal, so he said he's excited to move to an Eastern Conference team. He played with Zenon Konopka with the Wild, with Christian Ehrhoff with San Jose and said ex-Sabre Mike Grier was one of his main mentors in his rookie year with the Sharks in 2007-08.
"I have a little experience, feel like I'm a good character guy to provide energy," Mitchell said. "I feel I can help in trhe process here and I"m excited for that role to come in and try to be a leader, create good energy and be a positive guy."
Neuvirth said he's been unhappy with his play this season in Washington (4-6-2, 2.82, .914) but was excited to come to Buffalo. As a native of the Czech Republic, he idolized Dominik Hasek.
"He was a hero for me. Same country," Neuvirth said. "All the games I watched were the Buffalo games because of him. He's a legend back home. ... I was excited for the newest opportunity. It's a young team here but hopefully we can grow as a team.
As for the Sabres as a whole, coach Ted Nolan said Konopka will be tonight's lone scratch. There was no line work done at practice as Nolan said he'll be studying where to use Mitchell. Ville Leino is expected to initially join Tyler Ennis and Drew Stafford in Moulson's spot.
Nolan is thrilled the trade deadline is over and he can now coach a set team.
"If you look at the majority of the teams, they've got one guy they're thinking about moving," Nolan said. We had almost half our team in the trade mill and we didn't really know until yesterday. There were a lot of anxious moments. One of the guys was telling me one of the guys hands were shaking at lunch time. Guys are human too."
Click below to hear audio from Nolan, Mitchell and Neuvirth.