Tonawanda News

Sabres

June 30, 2012

Sabres could be quieter during free agency this summer

Hecht appears to be done with team after 10 years

(Continued)

BUFFALO —

The Sabres, of course, also have their own free agents.

Regier said earlier this month it was “probably less likely than likely” forwards Brad Boyes and Jochen Hecht, the notable unrestricted veterans, would return.

Roland Thompson, Hecht’s agent, told the Gazette on Saturday that he’s only spoken to Regier once recently, at the NHL Combine, and he was told the Sabres hadn’t “had a chance to discuss” Hecht’s status.

The 35-year-old Hecht, the longest-tenured Sabre at 10 years, endured three concussions over a 10-month span recently, including two last season.

Hecht made his 22nd and final appearance of 2011-12 on Jan. 21. Thompson said he’s “now 100 percent healthy; he’s had clearance from the doctor.”

“I’m just disappointed that a player that’s given 10 years of his career … there wouldn’t be some kind of personal interaction to say thanks,” said Thompson, who’s “not sure if that’s the right way to exit a guy from the organization.”

Meanwhile, center Tyler Ennis, winger Patrick Kaleta and defenseman T.J. Brennan are the team’s notable restricted free agents.

Ennis, who became a star late last season, is probably the Sabres’ No. 1 pivot. He could get significant money. Regier said he planned to start negotiating after today. He doesn’t “foresee a real long-term contract” coming.

Kaleta, a supreme agitator, began playing big minutes during winter on a checking line. Two years ago, the Sabres elected for arbitration with the Angola native, a tactic rarely used, before reaching terms.

Brennan, who must clear waivers next season, played his first 11 NHL games last season.

The Sabres have four other unrestricted free agents – forwards Colin Stuart, Travis Turnbull, Derek Whitmore and goalie Dave Leggio – who contributed to the Rochester Americans.

The forwards all spent some time in Buffalo. Stuart captained the AHL affiliate. Whitmore’s 28 goals led the Amerks. Turnbull played three strong late-season games during his first recall. Leggio hasn’t played in the NHL yet, but the Williamsville native became the Amerks’ No. 1 goalie and team MVP during a breakout campaign.

Six Amerks from last season’s squad have already signed contracts to play in Europe, so Regier must fill those spots.

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