A day after being claimed off waivers, Matt D’Agostini was on the ice with his new club, the Buffalo Sabres, shaking hands and getting to know some of his new teammates.
D’Agostini had been waived by the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday and had to wait until noon Wednesday to find out if he’d be on his way to the minors or another NHL city.
“[Pittsburgh] told me the news and then you have the most anxious 24 hours of your life,” D’Agostini said after Buffalo’s optional practice Thursday at First Niagara Center. “Again, that’s just the way it goes in this sport. Guys come and go so I’m excited about my opportunity.”
Buffalo is D’Agostini’s fourth NHL club in the past two years. St. Louis traded him to New Jersey last season – where he played with Sabres defenseman Henrik Tallinder – and he signed a one-year contract with the Penguins this summer.
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In 275 NHL games, he’s scored 96 points (47+49), including 21 goals with the Blues in 2010-11.
The 27-year-old forward is from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., which is also the hometown of Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan. Nolan said that he’s known about D’Agostini since he was a teenager playing junior hockey with the Guelph Storm. When president of hockey operations Pat LaFontaine suggested the Sabres claim D’Agostini, Nolan was on board.
“I’ve known of him since he was about 15, 16 years old and I remember him going to another Ontario Hockey League team [and playing] against his hometown of Sault Ste. Marie. I was wondering why he got away,” Nolan said.
D’Agostini is looking forward to being in the lineup against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday.
“Hopefully [I can] get back to my ways and my confident self again,” he said. “Confidence is everything in this league I think, so get some playing time under my belt and hopefully get back to my old game.”
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He’ll likely get a lot of ice time as Nolan said he’ll put D’Agostini on the wing with center Ville Leino and captain Steve Ott.
“When you get a goal scorer, you have to put him in a position to score some goals so hopefully that’ll help,” Nolan said.
To make room for D’Agostini on the roster, the Sabres waived right wing Corey Tropp. Thursday afternoon, the Columbus Blue Jackets announced that they had claimed Tropp.
The Sabres were hoping to send Tropp to the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League where he could play a lot of minutes in all situations. Tropp has battled injuries the past two seasons and in nine games with Buffalo this season, he’d averaged 10:29 of ice time while on the fourth line.
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“I don’t know if [Tropp being claimed is] disappointing. You’re happy for the young guy,” Nolan said. “Pittsburgh lost a guy to us. It’s unfortunate that we haven’t got enough positions or room for him right now. It’s good for him to be picked up by somebody else and get his career going there. Unfortunately it wasn’t happening here at that moment. You take a chance and it’s good for Corey.”
Center Cody McCormick skated with the team again. He’s been on injured reserve since he took what he calls a “stiff hit” on Nov. 21 against the Philadelphia Flyers. Nolan said that he may not be ready for this weekend’s pair of games. McCormick declared himself day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
“We’re still kind of seeing how it’s going to react tomorrow morning,” McCormick said. “If the game was tonight, I don’t think it would work but another day might do it some help.”