SABRES BOLSTER DEFENSE
The Buffalo Sabres added some depth to the defensive corps over the weekend and brought back some familiar names.
Saturday morning, Sabres general manager Darcy Regier announced that the team had agreed to terms with free agents Alexander Sulzer and Drew Bagnall. Sulzer has played 32 games over the past two seasons for the blue and gold. On Sunday, the Sabres traded for defenseman Henrik Tallinder, who is no stranger to Buffalo.
Tallinder returns to the Sabres following a three-season absence. He was drafted by the Sabres in 1997 and played 468 games over parts of eight seasons with the franchise. He signed a four-year contract with the New Jersey Devils in the summer of 2010 and over the past two seasons, he’s been limited to 64 games and 10 points.
Sabres general manager Darcy Regier sent forward Riley Boychuk to the Devils in order to reacquire the 34-year-old Tallinder.
During the 2009-10 season – his last the Sabres – Tallinder was paired almost exclusively with Tyler Myers. Myers went on to win the Calder Trophy that year as the NHL’s top rookie. Tallinder was also on Buffalo’s top pair with Toni Lydman during the team’s runs to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2006 and 2007.
“We are excited to have [Tallinder] back in the mix on our blue line,” Regier said in a statement Sunday. “His experience will be invaluable not only in adding more stability to our back end, but also in the development of some of our younger defensemen.”
Sulzer, 29, signed a one-year contract. His 2012-13 campaign was cut short when he suffered a knee injury on Feb. 23, causing him to miss the final 28 games of the season. Sulzer was acquired at the 2012 trade deadline from Vancouver as part of the deal that brought center Cody Hodgson to Buffalo.
Bagnall is a 6-foot-3, 222-pound defenseman that played 47 games for the Houston Aeros, the Minnesota Wild’s affiliate in the American Hockey League. He also served as the team’s captain last season. Bagnall signed a multi-year, two-way contract, so it’s likely he’ll be a big veteran presence for the Rochester Americans of the AHL this upcoming season.
As September’s training camp approaches, keep an eye on how the Sabres’ defensive depth chart shakes out.
Defensemen on the roster from last season include Myers, Christian Ehrhoff, Mike Weber and rookies Mark Pysyk and Chad Ruhwedel. Factor in Tallinder, Sulzer and Jamie McBain, who was acquired from Carolina at the 2013 NHL Draft, and that’s eight spots right there.
Brayden McNabb and Rasmus Ristolainen, Buffalo’s top pick in 2013, are also candidates to crack the roster come October.