By Erica Whyte
The Rochester Americans’ roster just got one player deeper.
With two Stanley Cups and 172 NHL games under his belt, the addition of 26-year-old Scott Wilson is both a welcomed and anticipated addition.
After clearing waivers yesterday afternoon, the Buffalo Sabres assigned the Oakville, Ontario, native to their AHL affiliate to play his first games of this season.
Four days before the 2018-19 NHL regular-season began, Wilson broke his ankle during Sabres practice, forcing him to watch from the sidelines as Buffalo embarked on its historic start of the year.
WATCH: SCOTT WILSON AFTER HIS FIRST PRACTICE WITH THE AMERKS
“When you’re injured that long you, need to come down and play some games, so that’s what he’s going to do,” said Amerks head coach Chris Taylor after Wilson’s first practice with the team on Wednesday at Blue Cross Arena. “We’ve got to get him back to where he left off, because he hasn’t played in a long time.”
All in all, Taylor was pleased with what he saw out of the newcomer, who hasn’t played a game since April 7, 2018.
“He’s a hard forechecking guy, he can get on the puck, he’s got a great shot and he’s a great penalty killer,” added Taylor. “He’s also a great person and will add another dimension to the locker room. He’ll add support for the young guys, and they’ll learn from him, especially how he practices and gets ready for games.”
WATCH: CHRIS TAYLOR ON ADDITION OF SCOTT WILSON
Wilson has spent the last three seasons in the NHL, winning back-to-back Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2015-16 and 2016-17. After playing three games with the Pens to begin last season, he was traded to Detroit before finally landing in Buffalo, where he finished the year with 14 points (6+8) in 49 games.
According to the left-handed forward, the thing he is most excited for is just getting back on the ice.
“It’s been eight or nine months since I’ve had a real game, so getting some games under my belt and getting back in the swing of things, getting my timing back, is the most important thing,” Wilson said. “I’m feeling pretty good and I’m excited to get back after it.”
No stranger to ankle injuries, Wilson said that his recovery process was more of a mental struggle than a physical one.
WATCH: KEVIN PORTER AFTER WEDNESDAY'S PRACTICE
“It’s way more of a mental battle. I went through this before, I broke the same ankle two years ago. And it was actually kind of an undercover blessing a little bit to learn through that experience. This time was a little bit easier to get through, mentally for sure. The worst thing you can do is get negative on yourself. You’ve kind of got to turn everything into a positive, whether it’s just working on your shot or your hands, even if you’re not even able to walk around. You’re just sitting in a chair putting in the work that you can.”
And although it’s been just over nine months since he last played in a game, Wilson insists that he is feeling better than ever after recovering from this hurdle.
“I almost feel stronger and more confident now than I did before I got hurt, because I’ve been able to focus on my skills and my hands and shot. But it’s been really nice to get back into it, skate with the guys and be part of a team again. I’m just excited to get going with the guys.”
And it helps having some familiarity as well. He played alongside Amerks captain Kevin Porter during his time in Pittsburgh during the 2016-17 season and is of course familiar with Randy Sexton and Jason Botterill, the organization’s two general managers who were instrumental in building the Penguins roster that won consecutive Stanley Cups that Wilson was a part of.
“I had a lot of fun with ‘Ports’,” said Wilson. “It feels like back in the day even though it’s not that long ago. We had a lot of fun together so I’m excited to be back with him.”
Wilson is projected to make his Amerks debut as Rochester hosts the defending Calder Cup Champion Toronto Marlies on Friday, January 11. Tickets are available at www.amerks.com.