When Zach Redmond was traded to the Buffalo Sabres organization on the eve of the 2017/2018 NHL regular season starting it’s highly unlikely that anyone could have predicted that Redmond would be entering the record books of the Rochester Americans. On the surface it was a simple trade between two NHL teams sending defenseman to new organizations for a fresh start.
Here we are 15 months later with history being made. The record of 18 goals in the regular season was set 46 years ago by Rick Pagnutti during the 1972/1973 season. The coach that season was Don Cherry.
Redmond tied that record last Friday when he scored twice against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to reach the 18 goal mark in 40 games. He has 36 games remaining in the regular season to score one more.
“It’s not something I’ve given a lot of thought to, it is pretty cool. I haven’t done anything like that individually,” Redmond said when asked about recognizing the fact that he’s now in the record books. “I know I was kind of there last year, I remember getting close and it was coming up. It’s definitely a big honor but I’m still one away so I don’t want to jinx anything but it’s pretty cool.”
“It’s remarkable what he’s doing, there’s no question about it,” Chris Taylor said when asked about the record that could be broken. “When you ask him he says he’s just going about his business and helping the team win and those are the type of people we have on the team.”
Last season Redmond scored 15 goals in 66 games. There have been five other players to score either 16 or 17 goals to come close to the record.
- 1980/1981 Bob Hess scored 17 in 70 games
- 1979/1978 Graeme Nicolson scored 16 in 80 games
- 1989/1990 Don McSween scored 16 in 70 games
- 2011/2012 T.J. Brennan scored 16 in 52 games
- 2010/2011 Michael Kostka scored 16 in 80 games
Five players from five different eras. Depending on your age will depend on who you remember the most.
TJ Brennan came close another time during the 2012/2013 season when he scored 14 goals in 36 games. His time in Rochester came to an end when the Sabres called him up and then he was traded to the Florida Panthers. Philippe Boucher also had a near record pace cut short due to a trade during the 1994/1995 season. He had 14 goals in 43 games which earned him a call up to the Sabres and that also resulted in a trade. He was dealt to the Los Angeles Kings.
Being traded away from the organization is one thing that Redmond doesn’t have to worry about. Over the summer he was willing to come back and let the organization what he wanted and they said no problem. He signed a two year contract that would pay him $625,000 the first year and $650,000 the second year. That’s National Hockey League money on an American League contract.
“A lot of my career has been up and down. If you ask anyone there’s a different element to that. Being with Rochester primarily has been easier,” Redmond said when asked what has helped his success. “You’re able to settle in and you’re with the team every day. You’re not going back and forth and having to adjust and tweek things, your role is the same. I think for me it’s really just been settling into one place and getting comfortable. One area, one spot on the PP or whatever it may be just having that level of security and comfort has made a big difference for me.”
Chris Taylor hasn’t been surprised at how Redmond has been contributing. Taylor said, “When we got him last year we knew what we were getting. He’s in a really good spot right now and very comfortable.”
No one is surprised at how well he’s doing. CJ Smith, Kevin Porter, and Brendan Guhle all said not surprised at all the way he’s playing and scoring.
Redmond has scored from the right side, the left side, the point, down low. The goals haven’t been flukes, he has a lethal shot and it’s earned him an appearance in the 2019 AHL All-Star game.
CJ Smith commented on how Redmond can shoot the puck saying, “We just tell him to let that thing go whenever he has the chance.”
“Goal scoring is kind of weird unless you’re I guess Ovechkin. It’s hard to even understand how the puck goes in that often. You have to shoot to score and that’s one thing I’m trying to do, get off a quick hard shot when I can,” Redmond said. He added, “The pace at which they’re going in is a little different but I’ll take it.”
Chris Taylor made sure to point out that it’s a team effort. In the past Taylor has said individual success follows team success. The Amerks have remained in first place throughout the season based on team play. Taylor said, “You have to have good players for him to be open. If it was just him they (other teams) would cover him at all times. Obviously they’re afraid of Olofsson, Porter, Simpson, CJ Smith.. there’s a reason he’s getting open a little more and he’s the beneficiary of it.”
It hasn’t been easy for Redmond to reach the highest levels of hockey and he knows he’s fortunate. A severed artery in 2013 almost ended his life. There was also the stroke at age 15. [ Read more on those incidents at Buffalo Hockey Beat ]
“It’s definitely something that I remind myself every day or every game even by saying a couple words to myself. It’s super easy to take anything for granted let alone playing the sport you love for your job,” Redmond said. “Making a living doing it, getting to travel around, and summers off. I’m lucky to be doing it and a couple of set backs that kind of put things in perspective probably helped in the long run as well.”