by Lindsay Kramer || NHL.com
Rochester Americans center David Brine is one of those players who makes his teammates better.
Sometimes, a lot better.
Brine, a third-line center, has been something of good luck charm for his linemates this season. Four of them — Kenndal McArdle, Victor Oreskovich, Michal Repik and Shawn Matthias — have been recalled by the Florida Panthers this season.
"I think these guys earned it themselves. They are good hockey players," Brine said.
True enough, but their promotions also highlight how Brine has improved his game enough to make them stand out.
Brine’s subtle contributions are an easy to overlook factor in the Amerks’ reversal from one of the worst teams in the AHL last season to one of the best this year. The additions of quality veterans like Clay Wilson, Mike York, Graham Mink, Jeff Taffe and Chris Taylor were instant fixes.
But the gradual development of Brine, 24, is a vital part of the team’s new winning chemistry. His nine goals in 23 games are one more than he had in 79 contests for the Amerks last season and his much-improved skating — always a concern in his game — has allowed him to keep pace with his up-and-coming linemates.
Brine has worked with a skating coach the past two off-seasons and last summer he also picked up a personal trainer.
"Skating has always been a knock on me. Everywhere I’ve gone, they’ve said my skating isn’t good enough," Brine said. "I definitely see an improvement. Every year you play pro, you have to get better. Going into this year, I felt good about my game."
Brine, in his third full season with the Amerks, luxuriates in the successful aura around his team in general. The newcomers, while helpful, had little sense of how deep into despair the once-proud Amerks had dipped except for when their old teams feasted in Rochester.
"It was pretty tough to go out there every night. Other teams had a lot of veterans," Brine said. "The record wasn’t really there. You just have to hope greener pastures are coming. I can definitely appreciate where we are now. Everybody is happier when you are winning."
Players usually say that’s a glow that puts everyone in a positive light. Brine got a sip of the NHL two years ago when the Panthers looked at him for nine games. The procession of linemates from Rochester to Florida would seem likely to eventually circle around and include a spot for the new and improved Brine, even if he’s not as flashy as those who preceded him.
"I understand I’m at my best when I’m grinding. When I get that role, it’s a challenge, it helps keep me focused," he said. "You can’t think about (his own recall). They have certain holes they want to fill up there. You have to focus on what you are."
Lindsay Kramer, the AHL correspondent for NHL.com, profiles an up-and-coming player each Monday during the season, and his AHL notebook appears each Thursday on NHL.com. Read today’s complete column here.