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Lindsay Kramer | correspondent
Oct 30, 2006, 12:00 PM EST

Rochester Amerks forward Daniel Paille draws a laugh these days from the things that used to amuse him. Video games, for instance. Paille could play them all day. Silly jokes. Pranks on teammates. All yukety-yuk stuff.
And now? Well, turning into a graybeard comes with a cost.

"I'm starting to read some newspapers. I feel I'm getting a little more mature every day," Paille laughed. "Things that used to humor me more back when I was 16 don't humor me a lot."

Ah yes, the perspective that comes with six whole years. Yes, six years.

Paille is just 22, which, especially considering his status as a third-year Amerk, makes him almost paternal. Don't be fooled. On a Rochester team that started 7-0 and that features some of the best young prospects in hockey, Paille deserves to raise his hand in a "don't forget about me as an up-and-comer" gesture.

A former No. 1 pick himself by the Sabres in 2002, he is the guts of the team and arguably the current Amerk closest to the NHL. He missed sticking in Buffalo by the width of a blade this preseason, and with one goal and five assists in his first seven games in Rochester, is banging on the door to go back.

"Knowing I was so close made it hurt a little more," Paille said. "The next day, I saw the guys (in Rochester), we hung out together. You move on."

Amerks fans this season have every reason to gape over the wondrous talents of rookies like forwards Dylan Hunter and Drew Stafford and goalie Adam Dennis. Those pining for nostalgia can replay the highlight reel finishing touches of recent alumni and current Sabres like Thomas Vanek, Derek Roy and Jason Pominville.

Paille, too, wishes he could impress you like that. That's not going to happen. All he's going to do is bang around, pressure opponents into turnovers with his speed and then quietly show up on the score sheet with a goal and a couple assists.

"If he was in a different organization, with the way he plays, he'd definitely be noticed a lot more. There's a reason why Stafford and those guys get chances to score, because of players like him," said teammate Michael Ryan.

"I definitely wish I had their type of skill,'' Paille of the galaxy that's surrounded him the past couple of seasons. "What they bring is special. For me to make it to the next level, I have to play it simple for myself. I definitely like to be noticed with my work ethic. I try to read the play, see how it goes."

Game sense, in other words. The 6-foot, 197-pound Paille used it to contribute 14 goals and 13 assists to the Amerks last season, an effort that went beyond numbers and earned Paille 14 contests with the Sabres.

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