A six-week audition has landed defenseman Alexander Sulzer a new one-year contract with the Buffalo Sabres.
The 27-year-old Sulzer, who was due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, was acquired from Vancouver on February 27 in the deal that also brought Cody Hodgson to Buffalo. After posting just a single assist playing sparingly in 12 games with the Canucks, Sulzer collected eight points in 15 games with the Sabres, while also opening the eyes of General Manager Darcy Regier in the process.
“(Sulzer) played very well with Christian (Ehrhoff). And I think the other thing you really notice out there is his composure; his ability to not only break up plays defensively, but to make plays offensively with the patience that he showed,” Regier explained as he met with the media this afternoon at First Niagara Center. “We were pleasantly surprised with his play, and that moved us toward getting him signed.”
In 89 career NHL games, Sulzer has amassed 16 points (4+12), while playing with Buffalo, Vancouver, Florida and Nashville. The Kaufbeuren, Germany native was drafted in the third round (92nd overall) of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft by the Nashville Predators. Sulzer has also participated as a member of the German National team at both the Olympics (2006 and 2010) and at the World Championships (2005, 2006, 2007 and 2010).
The signing gives Buffalo eight defensemen with NHL experience heading into next season, including Brayden McNabb who played 25 games with the big club in 2011-12. Regier realizes that eight is definitely more than enough on the blueline, and knows he could have some additional pieces to play with as the trade market begins to open up later in June.
“I think it allows us to not only look at our defense – we feel comfortable there – but it gives us an opportunity at movement maybe up front as well.”
Regier also said today that all of the organization’s restricted free agents have received qualifying offers, including forward Tyler Ennis. However, at this point, no discussions have taken place with Ennis’ agent regarding a long-term deal for the 22-year-old center.
In addition, Regier stated that no decisions have been made on pending unrestricted free agents Jochen Hecht and Brad Boyes. Regier said management and coaches have been holding ongoing discussions about the direction of the team since the season ended, but more specific player decisions will be made closer to the July 1 deadline.