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Lalime signs with Sabres

by John McGourty

Patrick Lalime
Veteran goaltender Patrick Lalime will be returning to the Northeast Division in 2008-09 after signing a two-year deal with the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday.

Lalime is expected to back up starter Ryan Miller. Jocelyn Thibault did that job this past season but is an unrestricted free agent and wasn't re-signed.

Lalime played five seasons for the Ottawa Senators, compiling a record of 146-100-30. His best year was 2002-03, when he went 39-20-7 with a 2.16 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage as the Senators won the President's Trophy with the NHL's best regular-season record. The Senators went to the Eastern Conference Finals that year, falling in seven games to the New Jersey Devils when Jeff Friesen scored with two minutes left in Game 7.

The Senators slipped to third place in the Northeast Division the following season and were eliminated in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. Lalime was traded at the 2004 Draft to the St. Louis Blues for a fourth-round pick, but struggled in 2005-06 with the Blues and signed a free-agent contract with the Blackhawks in July 2006.

Lalime had back surgery at the start of the season and played only 12 games in 2006-07 with the Blackhawks and four with the AHL Norfolk Admirals. He rebounded in 2007-08 with a 16-12-2 record, one shutout, a 2.82 GAA and an .897 save percentage.

Lalime was chosen by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the third round, No. 156 overall, of the 1993 NHL Entry Draft and made his debut on Nov. 16, 1996, against the New York Rangers. He was 21-12-2 for Pittsburgh that season but was traded in late March to Anaheim for Sean Pronger. He played the next year in the IHL and was traded to Ottawa at the 1999 Draft for Ted Donato and Antti-Jussi Niemi.

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