While most of the talk continues to center around Kovalchuk, the Sabres made a couple of interesting roster moves the other day. First, teflon GM Darcy Regier signed former Cap Shaone Morrisson to a two-year deal worth $2.075 million-per-season.
The 27 year-old original Boston '01 first round pick adds size to the Buffalo blueline. Listed at 6-4, 215, he'll be looked upon to help shoulder the burden with Henrik Tallinder now in Jersey while Jordan Leopold is an adequate replacement for Hostess cupcake Toni Lydman. As our resident Buffalo blogger says, 'Have fun with that guy Anaheim.'
Meanwhile, Morrisson proved to be a steady influence for the Caps the past five seasons getting into 374 games (74.8 average) while compiling nine goals, 53 assists and 405 penalty minutes along with a plus-26 rating. Solid but unspectacular numbers for the physical defensive blueliner whose 163 hits paced all Washington defensemen- ranking second to Alex Ovechkin (185) in '09-10. The Vancouver native also blocked 104 shots, placing behind club leader Jeff Schultz (129), Tom Poti (121) and ex-Cap Brian Pothier (107-Wsh/Car).
He'll turn 28 two days before Christmas. Overall, it looks like a solid signing by Regier, who added a character player to a Buffalo corps which prominently features Tyler Myers, Andrej Sekera along with vets Craig Rivet and Steve Montador. Including extra Chris Butler, all seven Sabre D are signed. With the exceptions of Rivet (35) and Montador (30), every other blueliner is under 30 including Leopold (29), who will be a key to how good it performs.
If there's a drawback, injuries have caused Morrisson to decline in games played. Since he took part in a career high 80 in '05-06, it's dwindled little by little each year spiraling below 70 last season.
Morr Risson For Concern
On the plus-side, in six-plus seasons with Boston and Washington, he's never finished a minus even posting a plus-10 his rookie year split with the B's and Caps in which a deadline trade sent Sergei Gonchar to Beantown pre-lockout. Overall, he's 10-60-70 with a plus-36 in 418 career games.
Kennedy Bought Out In a startling move, Regier opted not to accept the arbitrator's $1 million reward, placing Tim Kennedy on waivers and then buying him out. A tad curious considering that the 24 year-old made the club and performed admirably as a rookie, posting 10 goals and 16 helpers for 26 points along with 50 penalty minutes, a power play goal and three game-winners in 78 contests.
The Buffalo native was used primarily in a checking role under Lindy Ruff, providing a lift when the club needed it. Interestingly enough, Kennedy fared alright in his first playoff series going 1-2-3 with four PIM and a plus-three rating in six games.
Instead of paying him a difference of $200,000 (seriously), Regier bought him out for $333 K. On why he made the decision, the Buffalo executive explained:
“The only thing I would say to the fans is that our objective hasn’t changed here. It's about building the very best team, a championship team. That's the goal, that’s what we do, that's why we do it. ... That's why we make tough decisions like this. It is a tough decision. I know it hits home, I know it's personal to our fan base; I know it's personal to South Buffalo. And it’s unfortunate in that regard."
What objective might that be???