By Mike Harrington
The Sabres have brought back a familiar face to their defense corps today, re-signing Alexander Sulzer to a one-year contract with an identical $725,000 salary as last seaason. The team has also confirmed the two-year, two-way deal with Drew Bagnall that we reported late Friday night.
Sulzer, 29, was acquired from Vancouver at the trade deadline in 2012 for Marc-Andre Gragnani and acquitted himself as a solid third-pair blueliner. Expected to contribute last year when the lockout finally ended, he 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 -- and did not play the rest of the season. He eventually had surgery on the knee.
Sulzer had three goals for the Sabres each of the last two years. He had one goal in 74 combined games with Florida, Nashville and Vancouver earlier in his career.
GM Darcy Regier said at this week's free agency preview press conference that he would not offer a contract to Sulzer or fellow UFA Adam Pardy prior to Friday. But any team, like the Sabres learned the hard way in 2006, needs depth at defense and in the minor leagues.
(Afternoon update: Pardy has signed a one-year, $600,000 deal with the Winnipeg Jets)
So the Sabres now have nine defensemen with NHL experience -- Christian Erhoff, Tyler Myers, Mike Weber, Mark Pysyk, Jamie McBain, Chad Ruhwedel, Brayden McNabb, Sulzer and Bagnall. Of course, the experience of Ruhwedel (seven games with the Sabres) and Bagnall (two games with Minnesota) is limited. And No. 1 draft pick Rasmus Ristolainen is expected to be given an opportunity to make the NHL roster in training camp as well.