T.J. Brennan and Alex Biega are two young defensemen with very little NHL experience. Both spent this past season with the Rochester Americans of the AHL and are set to become restricted free agents on July 1.
T.J. Brennan | Defense | 23 years old | 2011-12 Salary: $875,000
A New Jersey native, Brennan began his hockey career in the QMJHL in 2006. He began as a member of the St. John’s Fog Devils for two seasons, putting up 41 points in consecutive seasons, and remained with the team when it began the Montreal Junior Hockey Club. The defenseman was drafted 31st overall by the Buffalo Sabres in 2007 and began his AHL career with the Portland Pirates in the ’09-10 season.
That season, he had six goals and 17 assists in 65 games. The next season was more productive as he tallied 39 points in 72 games before coming to Rochester this past season.
In 52 games with the Amerks, Brennan scored 16 goals and 14 assists. One of the most impressive statistics, however, comes slightly off the scoresheet. He had 150 shots in the season, which is an impressive number for a defenseman.
Brennan made his NHL debut this year, as he was called up to the Sabres and played his first game on November 23, 2011. In that game, against the Boston Bruins, he scored his first NHL goal. He has potential to play for the Buffalo squad next season; although he probably won’t make the starting lineup due to space constraints, he’ll compete for a spot if there’s an injury.
Alex Biega | Defense | 24 years old | 2011-12 Salary: $527,500
Biega, a Montreal native, has been with the Sabres organization slightly longer than Brennan since he was drafted in 2006. However, his AHL experience didn’t begin until the ’10-11 season. Why, you ask?
He was drafted by Rimouski of the QMJHL in 2004, but elected to play high school hockey in Connecticut before moving onto Harvard. Yes, you read that right – Harvard. Biega played four years of NCAA Division 1 hockey there and signed with the Sabres immediately after graduating in 2010. (He couldn’t sign earlier because he had to complete his NCAA play).
That October, he joined the Pirates in Portland for his first season in the American Hockey League. In 61 games that season, he had three goals and fifteen assists.
Joining Rochester this year, his number were slightly higher: 23 points (5-18) in 65 games. His +10 rating was second on the team for defenseman, behind only Brayden McNabb. Biega had an assist in each of the two playoff games he competed in this season as well. If the Sabres re-sign Biega, he’ll most likely end up in Rochester for his third year in the AHL.