Center/left wing Cody McCormick played in only three games for the Buffalo Sabres last season after signing as a free agent over the summer, but what he did in those games -- three first-round Stanley Cup Playoff games against the Boston Bruins -- earned him a one-way contract for next year, TSN's Darren Dreger reports.
The Sabres were down, 2-1 in the seven-game series against the Bruins and forwards Thomas Vanek and Matt Ellis were hurt. McCormick, a veteran of 190 regular-season NHL games, had spent the entire year with Buffalo's AHL affiliate, the Portland Pirates. The Sabres called on him to replace Ellis at center and McCormick responded by setting up Tim Kennedy's goal 2:12 into the first period of Game 4. The Sabres went up 2-0 in the first period but they gave back a goal on McCormick's goaltender-interference penalty at the start of the third, a call that Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff hotly disputed.
"I thought we were getting a power play on the McCormick play as he's hooked going to the net," Ruff said. "Their own guy wipes the goaltender out, and it's a pretty big swing of events for us."
The Sabres wound up losing, 3-2 in double-overtime.
McCormick wasn't deterred. Only 1:54 into the first period of Game 5, McCormick set up Adam's Mair's goal and the Sabres went on to a 4-1 win in Game 5. It was an incident at the end of the game that earned Ruff's admiration.
Boston captain Zdeno Chara took exception to Paul Gaustad's slash in the final seconds of the game and gave "the Goose" three hard punches before he was hauled down by the 6-foot-3, 215-pound McCormick.
McCormick, 27, was the Colorado Avalanche's fifth-round pick, No. 144, in the 2001 Entry Draft and he got off to a quick start when he played 44 games for Colorado in his first year out of juniors. But he had a weird season the next year, playing 40 games for AHL Hershey and sitting out as a healthy scratch during his call-ups to the Avs.
He had a serious chest injury the next year and played six games for the Avalanche and 40 for their AHL team in Albany. He had hip and shoulder problems in 2008 and a foot injury in 2009 and was released by Colorado at the end of the 2008-09 season. In 66 games for Portland last year, McCormick had 17 goals and 12 assists for 29 points. He was minus-2 with 168 penalty minutes.
McCormick has some offensive skills, is good defensively, sticks up for teammates and as his charge at Chara showed, he's not afraid of anyone.