Somewhere inside Matt D’Agostini is a 20-goal scorer, a guy who made the most of his chance when given minutes on a non-playoff team. He’s been missing for a while.
D’Agostini and the Sabres hope he resurfaces in Buffalo.
The newest member of Blue and Gold skated with the team for the first time Thursday, and he’ll have a prominent role in the lineup tonight when Toronto visits First Niagara Center.
“I’m excited about another new opportunity,” D’Agostini said. “It’s just another opportunity to come in and try to prove myself and prove that I can be a good NHL player every day.”
The Sabres claimed D’Agostini off waivers from Pittsburgh on Wednesday after discussing his history and skill set. Ted Nolan remembered a talented junior player, and everyone involved recalled the winger scoring 21 goals with St. Louis in 2010-11.
D’Agostini has scored 12 goals in 92 games since his career year.
“To get a guy like him, it’s fortunate for us and we’ll see if we can get his career back going,” said Nolan, who plans to use D’Agostini alongside captain Steve Ott and center Ville Leino. “When you get a goal scorer, you’ve got to put him in position to score some goals. Hopefully, that will help.”
D’Agostini, 27, did fine playing on a scoring line with the Blues. With linemates such as David Backes, Andy McDonald and Alexander Steen, D’Agostini put up 21 goals and 46 points in 82 games to finish fifth on the team in scoring.
“We weren’t making the playoffs that year,” D’Agostini said. “That was a time I got my minutes and got some goals under my belt and got some confidence. I’m hoping to get back to those ways.
“Hopefully, if I get the playing time and get the minutes out there, I’ll get my confidence back and get back to my old game.”
The Blues dealt D’Agostini to New Jersey last year after watching him open with one goal and two points in 16 games. He had two goals and four points in 14 games with the Devils, who didn’t present a qualifying offer to the restricted free agent.
The Penguins signed him to a one-year, $550,000 deal. He was injured during training camp and couldn’t claim a regular spot in the lineup, playing just eight games before getting waived.
“The last couple years have been struggles, obviously, to find my game and stuff like that,” D’Agostini said. “This year was nothing but the same with the way it’s been going with the injury and kind of a slow start. I’m hoping to get a fresh start here and rebuild myself as a player.”
D’Agostini and Nolan are both from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., and the coach paid attention when D’Agostini left town to play juniors with Guelph of the Ontario Hockey League. The winger totaled 49 goals and 76 points in 125 games.
The Canadiens selected him in the sixth round of the 2005 draft, and he recorded 58 goals and 127 points in 159 games with their minor-league club.
“He can definitely put the puck in the net,” said Sabres defenseman Henrik Tallinder, who played with D’Agostini last season in New Jersey. “Hopefully, he will find some chemistry with some guys and he can light it up a little bit.”
The Sabres could use scoring help. They’ve scored just once in each of the last four games and are last in the NHL at 1.62 goals per game. No one else is under two.
“I’m hoping to reward them with a little bit of good play and show myself,” D’Agostini said. “I like to think I can see the ice and play with good players. Whatever line it’s on, whatever role they want me to play, I can go out there and do that.”