Schaller gets the call

The Buffalo Sabres announced Saturday that they have recalled forward Tim Schaller from the AHL's Rochester Americans.

A product of Providence College, Schaller has captured six goals and 15 points in 20 games this season, including a career-high five-point night (2+3) on Nov. 21 in a 7-4 win over Utica. Among his markers are two on the power play, one game-winner and one shorthanded. The 24-year old previously posted 18 points (11+7) in 72 games a season ago as an AHL rookie.

Prior to being signed by the Sabres to a free agent contract, Schaller was named the 2013 Hockey East Best Defensive Forward. Previous winners of the award include Chris Drury and Joe Vitale.

The offensive uptick is appreciated, but Schaller's hard-driving pedigree is about details and two-way responsibility. The foundation is a strong skating game and ability to read plays. He's smart on the defensive half of the ice, takes the puck hard to the net at the other end, and functions very well as a penalty killer who covers a lot of ice quickly.

If hard work beats talent when talent isn't working hard, then Schaller is player that coaches appreciate as he executes in a checking line role.

Schaller had a solid training camp with Buffalo, giving management hope that he was on the verge of a developmental leap entering his second professional season. His good feet and willingness to engage in physical battles should help him adapt quickly to the NHL pace, but either way, it's refreshing to see a potential role player get rewarded for their work. He surely won't mind not being able to wear his usual "11" jersey when he joins the Sabres.

It's a four-hour drive from Merrimack, NH to Montreal, so cheers to his family making it north in time for Saturday's Sabres-Habs tilt.
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