Free Agent Friday: Leggio & Kaleta

This week for Free Agent Friday, we look at upcoming UFA David Leggio, who spent the season with the Rochester Americans of the AHL, as well as aggressive Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta, who is set to become a restricted free agent on July 1.

David Leggio | Goaltender | 27 years old | 2011-12 Salary: $525,000

There were two goaltenders who played in Rochester this season, but the one most people will tell you about is David Leggio, the 27-year-old undrafted player who spent the most time between the pipes this season.

A Williamsville native, Leggio played in 54 games with the Americans this year and could certainly be called their main goaltender, as Drew MacIntyre played back-up but hardly really played at all. Leggio led the league in saves and finished second in minutes played for the season, so as he prepares to hit the free agent market, it’s almost a guarantee that he’ll be a hot-ticket item.

If the Buffalo Sabres sign him to a new contract, Leggio will most likely return to Rochester next season pending any injuries or issues with Ryan Miller or Jhonas Enroth and maintain his status as the Amerks’ starting goaltender.

So: how did he get here? Suffice to say, it was an interesting journey.

Leggio began his college hockey career by playing four years at Clarkson University in Potsdam. There, his team won the ECAC tournament championship in 2007 and the regular season title in 2008. After graduating, he played one game of an amateur tryout with the Binghamton Senators of the AHL – but that didn’t last very long, as the next season brought him to Estero, Florida with the Everblades of the ECHL.

With the team, he shared goaltending duties en route to winning the Brabham Cup. But once again, it didn’t last very long, as the next year he moved again – this time, to Finland.

For the 2009-10 season, Leggio played 30 games with TPS of SM-liiga. He also played for this team in the postseason, and his 1.57 GAA in seven games was a league best as the team won the SM-liiga title that year.

Upon his return to the USA, the Portland Pirates signed Leggio to a one-year contract; several months later, the Sabres elected to make it a two-way contract, and he played 36 games that year with Portland. (Jhonas Enroth was the team’s other goaltender at the time.)

In that stretch, Leggio had 22 wins and a 2.80 GAA.

The following season – this past one – as the Sabres affiliation moved to Rochester, Leggio was signed once more, and this year was arguably his best yet.

Fifty-four games, 28 wins, 3243 minutes played, six shootout wins. The numbers don’t lie and if this year was any indication, Leggio will be back next season with a vengeance.

Patrick Kaleta | Right Wing | 25 years old | 2011-12 Salary: $907,500

When many NHL fans think of a player named Patrick who hails from Buffalo, they may think of Blackhawks forward Kane, but hey – he’s not the only one. Sabres tough guy Patrick Kaleta is truly a Buffalo boy, but will this change with the upcoming free agency?

The Angola native has spent the better part of his hockey career playing in Buffalo or its suburbs, starting with the Hamburg Hawks and West Seneca Wings. His high school experience at St. Francis High School in Athol Springs saw him play hockey there, before joining the Peterborough Petes of the OHL – his first time playing outside of the area.

After two years with the Petes, Kaleta was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. He played two more years in the OHL, accruing 61 goals, 86 assists and 460 penalty minutes in 264 games over the four years. In his last season with Peterborough, the team reached the Memorial Cup, and Kaleta signed with Buffalo in the offseason.

The ’06-’07 season was his first in the AHL as he joined the Rochester Americans. (Kaleta is one of a handful of players on the Sabres to have played in Rochester). There, he had fifteen points (and 133 penalty minutes) in 58 games and got called up to the NHL for the first time in his career. In seven games with Buffalo, he had two assists, including one in his first game, along with his first fight.

The next year, Kaleta saw more NHL time as he played 40 games with Buffalo and 29 with Rochester. It was that season during which he scored his first NHL goal, against the Florida Panthers.

Finally, the 2008-09 season was his first full season in the big league, as he played in 51 NHL games and tallied four goals and five assists. He struggled with head/neck issues and missed a total of 27 games due to this. The next year, his numbers went up: 15 points in 55 games. He ended both seasons with 89 penalty minutes and a plus rating.

In the 2010-11 season, Kaleta had nine points and a -4 rating in 51 games, his first NHL season with a minus. This year, he once again struggled with injuries, including several upper body injuries, but played 63 games and had 116 penalty minutes along with five goals and five assists – decent numbers for a guy who was suspended for four games and missed another 15 due to upper and lower body injuries.

His aggressive ‘pest’ style of play is what he’s best known for, and it’s this persona that has created a name for him around the league. His league history has been sprinkled with an occasional suspension, including one for head-butting Jakub Voracek this year, and disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan certainly keeps an eye out for him.

Although he spends most of his time playing on the fourth line as an enforcer, Kaleta is a player to watch – but will we be watching him in the blue & gold next season?

Tags: David Leggio Patrick Kaleta

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