BUFFALO (LGS) — Scoring woes apparently aren't enough of a reason for the Buffalo Sabres to reinstate Maxim Afinogenov into their lineup, despite the fact the winger says he's been healthy for quite some time.
Afinogenov has missed the last 24 games with a groin strain, but on Saturday he told John Vogl of the Buffalo News that he's been cleared and ready to play since mid-February.
"I was injured, but now I'm healthy," Afinogenov told the News. "It's like 10 days now. The doctors cleared me to play and stuff, but I'm not in the lineup. That's why it's frustrating for me, definitely."
The Russian winger's frustration is leading him to believe he might be traded before this Wednesday's NHL Trade Deadline.
"I want to play, definitely. I want to help the team, but if they're not using me, it's probably no point for me to be here."
Afinogenov registered 134 points and a plus-25 rating in 133 games from 2005 to 2007. In 90 games since then, the winger has collected only 40 points and a dreadful minus-30 rating.
In order to activate Afinogenov from injured reserve, Buffalo would need to send one player – most likely Matt Ellis – down to Portland.
The logic of leaving the 29-year-old deactivated makes no sense given the Sabres' current inability to score goals. And even if Afinogenov is no longer in the team's future plans, most teams would like to showcase a player at least once before the deadline.
While Afinogenov hasn't played up to his potential in a long time, singling him out is rather curious with many of his current teammates going through some major funks of their own, especially Jochen Hecht and Jason Pominville.
The Sabres have scored 10 goals while posting a 1-3-1 record since the day Afinogenov says he was cleared to play. Buffalo has managed to light the lamp only three times in its last three games.
So does Lindy Ruff really believe a journeyman fourth-line player is bringing more to the table than one of the most skillful players on the team?