Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Buffalo adds another heavyweight and clogs up the blue line with two signings yesterday

It would seem as if the Milan Lucic/Ryan Miller incident from last November is stuck in the Sabres collective craw.

Terry Pegula saw his $6.25M investment get run over and his team do nothing about it, and it would seem as if he didn't want to see that happen again.

In another move to add toughness to the organization, the Sabres signed Nick Tarnasky to a two-way contract.

Tarnasky is coming back to North America after playing one season in the KHL.

Sabres signee Nick Tarnasky (r) takes on
Aaron Voros of the NY Rangers.

For parts of five season in the NHL before that, the 6'2" 225 lb forward was a willing combatant and abrasive forward with Tampa Bay, Nashville and Florida. He will be joining 6'8" 245 lb. Joe Finley as protector of the youngins in Rochester and should end up on a line with another good-skating, tenacious forward--Maxim Legault.

Amerks coach Ron Rolston thinks he'll be able to fill in up and down the lineup. Tarnasky is coming to Rochester on the heels of a season in Russia where he said he was playing nearly 18 minutes a game and was being used in all situations, something he was never asked to do in the NHL.

This is the third move for the Sabres organization directed at adding toughness. They signed the best heavyweight available in 6'8" pugilist John Scott and traded skill center Derek Roy to Dallas for gritty forward Steve Ott.

Adding more beef and toughness should allow the skill players in the organization a chance to feel more comfortable on the ice.

And maybe allow Terry Pegula to sleep a little better at night.

Defenseman TJ Brennan looks to be either a Buffalo Sabre or playing in another organization this season.

The 6' 215 lb rearguard was re-signed on a one year deal and will be entering his fourth pro season. He will not be able to join the Amerks without clearing waivers.

Brennan is coming off his best pro season in the AHL having scored 16 goals (tops amongst Amerks defensemen) and 30 points in 52 games.

Back when he was drafted with the first pick in the second round (#31, 2007) it was rumored that the Philadelphia Flyers were miffed that the Sabres snatched the New Jersey native with their pick. Brennan ended up being the draft pick that was swapped with Philadelphia for Sabres goaltender Martin Biron at the trade deadline that year.

He had been a lacrosse player up until 2006 when he decided to shift his focus solely on hockey and has been a project that's been progressing at a slow yet definitive pace.

In 192 games for St. John's and Montreal of the QMJHL the offensive-minded defenseman with a strong shot and powerplay acumen scored 37 goals (16 on the pp) and added 79 assists but was a minus-24.

In the last three years for Portland/Rochester he's played in 187 games, had 37 goals (14 on the pp,) added 55 assists and was a plus-14.

TJ Brennan hold the puck from
his first NHL goal on Nov. 23, 2011.

He had an 11 game stint with the Sabres last season which saw him get his first NHL goal in his first NHL game, the first time a Sabres defenseman had done that since Lindy Ruff in 1979. He also acquitted himself well on the back end finishing with an even plus/minus rating in over 14 minutes per game.

It's a been a steady progression for the 23 yr. old who's said that he's been focusing upon the defensive aspects of the game since turning pro. And his re-signing with no waiver option adds to the conundrum on the back-end this summer.

As of right now the Sabres have nine NHL-calibre defensemen presently on their roster. With Christian Ehrhoff, Tyler Myers, Jordan Leopold, Robyn Regehr and Andrej Sekera nailing down five of the top six spots, it leaves Brennan battling with Mike Weber, Alexander Sulzer (acquired from Vancouver in the Cody Hodgson trade) and recently acquired (via the Roy/Ott trade) Adam Pardy for the sixth and seventh spots on the back-end.

Pretty obvious that somethings got to give.

Links used in this piece:

Brennan was one of six Sabres to score their first NHL goal last season.
For a video compliation, click here.

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