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Image courtesy of the Buffalo Sabres press site.
Image courtesy of the Buffalo Sabres press site.

Buffalo Sabres wrap busy week with signings of Brandon Montour, Cody Eakin, Taylor Hall

Sat, Oct 10th 2020 08:05 pm

Team drafts Jack Quinn

•The Buffalo Sabres on Saturday announced the team signed defenseman Brandon Montour to a one-year contract with an average annual value of $3.85 million.

Since making his Sabres debut on Feb. 26, 2019, Montour leads all Sabres defensemen with eight goals and a plus-9 rating. He ranks third among the team’s blueliners in points (28) and second in average ice time (20:07) in that time frame.

Montour was named to the AHL’s First All-Star Team after leading the league in assists by a defenseman and by a rookie in 2015-16. He also played in the 2016 and 2017 AHL All-Star Classics.

He captured a silver medal with Team Canada at the 2019 IIHF World Championship in Slovakia.

On Friday, the team announced several signings:

•Forward Zemgus Girgensons to a three-year contract with an AAV of $2.2 million.

He tied his previous career high with 11 even-strength goals in 2019-20.

His 19 points (12 goals, 7 assists) in 69 games last season marked his highest points-per-game total since he recorded a career-best 30 points (15/15) in 61 games in 2014-15.

Girgensons ranks 32nd on the franchise’s all-time games played list and has totaled seven shorthanded goals in seven seasons with the Sabres, tying for 15th-most in franchise history.

•Defenseman Brandon Davidson to a one-year contract with an AAV of $700,000.

He led all Stockton defensemen in points per game (.59) last season (minimum five games played) while setting an AHL career high with 20 points (3/17) in 34 games.

Davidson tied his NHL career highs in games played (51) and goals (4) between the Montreal Canadiens, Edmonton Oilers and New York Islanders during the 2017-18 season.

He was named to the WHL (East) Second All-Star Team in 2012 after a 49-point campaign as the captain of the Regina Pats in his last junior season.

Matt Irwin to a one-year contract with an AAV of $700,000.

An eight-year NHL veteran, Irwin has recorded 82 points (22/60) in 359 career games for the San Jose Sharks, Boston Bruins, Nashville Predators and Anaheim Ducks.

He has posted four points (1/3) in 47 career playoff games for San Jose and Nashville, and played in all 22 of Nashville’s postseason contests during their 2017 Stanley Cup Final run.

Irwin has a career shot attempts percentage of 51.3% and has never finished a full NHL season below 50.1%.

•Forward Tobias Rieder to a one-year contract with an AAV of $700,000.

He has played 434 games through seven NHL seasons with the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings and Arizona Coyotes.

Rieder recorded five points (3/2) in 10 playoff contests in 2020 with the Flames, tying an NHL postseason record with three shorthanded goals.

He has represented Germany in seven major international competitions, including four appearances at the IIHF World Championship. He was also a member of the Ralph Krueger-coached Team Europe at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

On Wednesday, the team tendered a qualifying offer to the following restricted free agents:

Forwards Casey Mittelstadt, Victor Olofsson and Sam Reinhart

Defensemen Montour and Lawrence Pilut

Goaltender Linus Ullmark

•The Sabres also signed goaltender Jonas Johansson to a one-year contract with an AAV of $700,000.

He played a career-high 22 games for the Rochester Americans in his fourth AHL season in 2019-20, and ranked sixth in the AHL in goals-against average and seventh in save percentage.

Johansson represented Rochester at the 2020 AHL All-Star Classic in Ontario, California.

He made his NHL debut on Feb. 4 vs. Colorado and earned his first career win on Feb. 23 vs. Winnipeg.

•And, the team signed forward Tage Thompson to a three-year contract with an AAV of $1.4 million.

He sustained a season-ending injury in his first NHL game of the 2019-20 season. Prior to that, Thompson was tied for the Rochester Americans’ team lead with 12 points (6/6) and ranked second in the AHL with 67 shots at the time of his recall.

He set career-high totals in NHL games played (65), goals (7) and points (12) in his first season with the Sabres in 2018-19.

Thompson helped the United States to a gold medal at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship and captured a bronze medal in his debut with the country’s senior national team at the 2018 IIHF World Championship in Denmark.


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•Buffalo wasn’t finished. On Sunday, the Sabres announced the signing of forward Cody Eakin to a two-year contract with an AAV of $2.25 million.

He has totaled 237 points (103/134) in nine NHL seasons, spending time with the Winnipeg Jets, Vegas Golden Knights, Dallas Stars and Washington Capitals.

Eakin recorded career-high totals in goals (22) and points (41) in 2018-19 with Vegas.

Has amassed 19 points (8/11) in 50 career playoff games and dressed for every game in the Golden Knights’ 2018 run to the Stanley Cup Final.

Eakin won championships in the AHL and WHL, and recorded six points (4/2) in nine games to help Canada win gold at the 2015 IIHF World Championship.

•Later that day, the team announced it signed forward Taylor Hall to a one-year contract with an AAV of $8 million. He is expected to play alongside center Jack Eichel on the Sabres’ top line.

Hall’s 1.05 points per game in the past three seasons ranks 17th in the NHL. He won the Hart Trophy in 2018 after leading the New Jersey Devils to the playoffs with career-high totals in goals (39), assists (54) and points (93).

Hall has been selected to three NHL All-Star Games in his career. He won back-to-back gold medals with Team Canada at the 2015 and 2016 IIHF World Championships. Has recorded 24 points (15/9) in 28 total games for Canada’s senior national team.

Making Moves

Needless to say, it’s been a busy fall for the blue and gold.

•On Sept. 16, Buffalo acquired forward Eric Staal from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for forward Marcus Johansson.

He ranks in the top 10 among active NHL players in career regular-season games played (seventh), goals (sixth) and points (eighth).

Staal ranked third among Wild skaters in goals (19) and points (47) in 2019-20, tying for the team lead with 14 even-strength goals and earning his sixth career NHL All-Star Game selection.

He is one of six active NHL members of the Triple Gold Club, winning the 2006 Stanley Cup and gold medals with Canada at 2007 IIHF World Championship and 2010 Winter Olympics. Staal helped lead the Carolina Hurricanes to a Stanley Cup championship with an NHL-best 28 points (9 goals, 19 assists) in the 2006 NHL Playoffs. He played in six NHL All-Star Games and was selected as the All-Star Game MVP in 2008.

Staal has represented Canada in four major international competitions, captaining the nation’s 2013 IIHF World Championship team. He won a gold medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics and at the 2007 IIHF World Championship.

In addition, Staal has served as a captain or alternate captain in 12 of his 16 NHL seasons, including seven seasons as captain of the Hurricanes. He was named to the NHL’s second All-Star Team in 2005-06 and the CHL’s First All-Star Team in 2002-03.

Staal played in the 2005 AHL All-Star Game, the 2004 NHL YoungStars Game and the 2003 CHL Top Prospects Game.

•The following week, Buffalo announced it signed forward Curtis Lazar to a two-year contract with an AAV of $800,000.

He made his Sabres debut in 2019-20, setting career-high marks in faceoff percentage and goals per game and tying his career high in points per game.

Lazar played 18 games for the Rochester Americans (AHL) in 2019-20, leading the team in points per game (.78) and ranking third with a plus-10 rating.

He won two WHL Championships and a Memorial Cup as a member of the Edmonton Oil Kings before captaining Team Canada to a gold medal at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship, where he tied for the tournament lead in goals.

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