The Buffalo Sabres’ two unrestricted free agents on defense made their decisions Saturday as Alexander Sulzer opted to re-sign with the team while Adam Pardy moved on to play for the Winnipeg Jets. Both signed one-year deals.
The Sabres also confirmed the two-year, two-way deal with Drew Bagnall that was reported late Friday night. Bagnall, who was the captain of Minnesota’s Houston affiliate in the AHL, is expected to serve as depth for the Rochester Amerks.
Sulzer, 29, was acquired from Vancouver at the trade deadline in 2012 for Marc-Andre Gragnani and has acquitted himself as a solid third-pair blueliner. He thrived last season with more minutes while playing with fellow German Christian Ehrhoff.
Expected to contribute on a nightly basis last year when the lockout finally ended, Sulzer played just 17 games before suffering a knee injury on a hit against the boards in the Feb. 23 loss to the New York Islanders – Ron Rolston’s first game as coach in First Niagara Center. Sulzer did not play the rest of the season and eventually had surgery on the knee.
Sulzer had three goals for the Sabres each of the last two years. He scored one total goal in 74 combined games with Florida, Nashville and Vancouver earlier in his career.
Sulzer will make $725,000, the same as he made last season.
Pardy, acquired from Dallas with Steve Ott last summer for Derek Roy, got $600,000 from the Jets.
Pardy split last year between Buffalo and Rochester after spending most of the previous four years in the NHL with Calgary and Dallas, and he had to take a big cut in pay from his $2 million salary. Pardy had four assists in 17 games for the Sabres, and two goals, seven assists in 19 games for Rochester.
The Sabres currently have nine defensemen with NHL experience – Ehrhoff, Sulzer, Tyler Myers, Mike Weber, Mark Pysyk, Jamie McBain, Chad Ruhwedel, Brayden McNabb and Bagnall. Of course, the experience of Ruhwedel (seven games with the Sabres) and Bagnall (two games with Minnesota) is limited.
No. 1 draft pick Rasmus Ristolainen is expected to be given an opportunity to make the NHL roster in training camp as well.
The second day of the league’s free agent period was virtually silent, with names like Jaromir Jagr, Tim Thomas, Ilya Bryzgalov, Mikhail Grabovski, Brendan Morrow, Dustin Penner, Dan Cleary and Brad Boyes among those still available.
The biggest signing was the one-year, $4 million deal ex-Sabre Derek Roy inked with St. Louis, which will be his third team since the Sabres traded him last summer.
Roy went to Dallas for Pardy and Ott and then was traded to Vancouver at the deadline.
Winger Mark Mancari, who has been in the Sabres’ chain seven of the last eight years in either Buffalo, Rochester or Portland, will be joining Roy in St. Louis. Mancari signed a one-year deal for $600,000 in the NHL or $300,000 in the AHL.