Kotalik expected to miss Buffalo opener with knee injury

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Sabres forward Ales Kotalik is expected to
miss Buffalo's season opener against the New York Islanders on
Friday because of a knee injury.

Coach Lindy Ruff said Monday that Kotalik is experiencing pain
in his knee and has not been cleared to skate.

"It doesn't look good for playing in the opener or this opening
weekend, but I wouldn't project past that of him missing any more
games," Ruff said.

After hosting the Islanders on Friday, the two teams play again
on Long Island the following day. The Sabres are then off until
hosting Atlanta on Oct. 11.

A two-time 20-goal scorer, Kotalik was hurt during practice
Thursday and missed the Sabres' final two preseason games. He had a
goal and assist in three preseason games last month and is coming
off an average season in which he finished 10th on the team with 38
points (16 goals, 22 assists) in 66 games.

The Sabres are generally healthy entering the season, though
defenseman Teppo Numminen is out indefinitely after having heart
surgery last month.

Buffalo demoted three players Monday -- including their 2005
first-round draft pick, forward Marek Zagrapan -- to its AHL
affiliate in Rochester. Zagrapan had a goal and an assist in six
preseason games.

Also demoted were forward Mark Mancari and defenseman Michael Funk.

The moves leave the team with the NHL maximum 23-player roster.