The free agent defenseman market thinned out this morning when Jamie McBain re-upped with Carolina.
This afternoon, it thinned out some more.
That’s because the Buffalo Sabres locked up Alexander Sulzer to a one-year deal worth $725,000. Sulzer, 27, was set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 — and despite his struggles to crack the NHL level during his first five years in North America, it’s likely he would’ve garnered interested on the open market.
Why? Well, after coming over from Vancouver in the Cody Hodgson-Zack Kassian trade at the deadline, Sulzer flourished on a Buffalo blueline decimated by injury. He had 3G-5A-8PTS in 15 games with a plus-2 rating, and the Sabres went 10-3-2 with him in the lineup.
What this means for Buffalo’s defense moving forward remains to be seen. As John Vogl of the Buffalo News reports, the Sabres now have eight defensemen under contract for next season: Tyler Myers, Robyn Regehr, Christian Ehrhoff, Jordan Leopold, Andrej Sekera, Mike Weber, Brayden McNabb and Sulzer.
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.