Six members of the AHL’s Rochester Americans, the farm club of the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres, are set to become unrestricted free agents this offseason, including an NHL veteran, an outstanding goaltender and a defenseman who spent time up with the Sabres this past season.
ADAM PARDY (D, 29, Hometown: Bonavista, Newfoundland)
Pardy was drafted to the NHL by the Calgary Flames in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. He spent parts of three seasons there before spending part of the 2011-12 season with the NHL’s Dallas Stars. The Buffalo Sabres acquired Pardy as part of the trade that brought forward Steve Ott to Buffalo, shipping Derek Roy out to Dallas.
Last season, Pardy made $2 million. He spent part of the season with the AHL’s Rochester Americans, putting up a nine-point campaign in the nineteen games he played there.
Pardy also spent time with the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres, appearing in 17 games. He had four assists and 14 penalty minutes.
ALEX BIEGA (D, 25, Hometown: Montreal, Quebec)
Biega has been with the Buffalo Sabres organization since being drafted by the team in 2006, 147th overall. He spent the 2010-11 season with the Portland Pirates, where he had 18 points in 61 games.
The next season, Biega put up 23 points in 65 games with the Rochester Americans. Last season, he had five goals and 20 assists in 72 regular season games. He also had a pair of assists and was a minus-2 in three playoff games.
Last season, the only part of his one-year contract, had him make an AHL salary of $60,000 with an NHL salary of $577,500. The defenseman has never played a regular season game in the NHL – the photo at the top of this article is from a preseason game in 2011.
MARK MANCARI (F, 27, Hometown: London, Ontario)
Mancari is in his second round with the Buffalo Sabres organization. He made his AHL debut in 2005-06 with the Rochester Americans, where he had 42 points in 71 games as a rookie. Mancari spent the next two seasons with the Americans before playing for three years in Portland.
He’d spend the 2011-12 season with the Chicago Wolves and appeared in six NHL games with the Vancouver Canucks before returning to the Sabres organization once again.
This season, Mancari had 22 goals and 39 assists for 61 points in 76 regular season games, leading the team across the board in goals, assists and points. He also had a pair of assists in three playoff games for the Americans, but was not recalled to the Buffalo Sabres at all, despite injuries on the NHL front.
Mancari, who made $250,000 last season with Rochester, may hit the free agent market in search of a position in the NHL for his ninth professional season.
DAVID LEGGIO (G, 28, Hometown: Buffalo, NY)
The local boy is certainly loved in Rochester – and for good reason. Leggio has put up outstanding numbers in the past two seasons with the Americans and has easily become the team’s top netminder. Last season, he played in 64 regular season games, had a 2.56 GAA and .924 save percentage and won 34 games; Leggio was tied for fourth in the AHL in save percentage.
He’s been with the Sabres organization since signing with the team in November 2010 and spent time with the Portland Pirates after signing.
Leggio may see offers from NHL teams, as his numbers prove he is a top AHL netminder who could get a shot in the big league next season and get the chance to play his first NHL game.
The wealth of other goaltending prospects in the Sabres organization – Matt Hackett, Nathan Lieuwen, Andrey Makarov, Connor Knapp – may also prove to be a factor in the decision.
NICK TARNASKY (F, 28, Hometown: Rocky Mountain House, Alberta)
Tarnasky has proven himself to be a tough guy who can throw it down to protect his teammates, but also knows how to score.
This past season, he had 16 goals – tied for second on the Rochester Americans – and ten assists for 26 points in 74 games. He also led the team with 138 penalty minutes, a whopping 70 more than Mark Mancari, who was second in PIM this year.
Tarnasky was signed by the Buffalo Sabres as a free agent on July 17, 2012 to a one-year contract. (He’s also a big supporter of the #merk$ trend on Twitter, in case you were wondering.) His personality and grit, along with his ability to score as shown this past season, may push the Sabres to re-sign the forward, who made $105,000 in an AHL contract last season.
MATT ELLIS (F, 31, Hometown: Welland, Ontario)
Last – but certainly not least – is veteran forward Matt Ellis, who was eventually named team captain of the Rochester Americans last season. Ellis was claimed off waivers by the Buffalo Sabres on October 1, 2008 and has been with the organization ever since.
After signing, Ellis spent most of the 2008-09 season with the Sabres, also spending 12 games with the AHL’s Portland Pirates. He spent the entire 2009-10 season with the Sabres before splitting the 2010-11 season once again. Ellis spent the entire 2011-12 season with the Sabres before playing the majority of this season with the Rochester Americans.
This year, Ellis had 12 points (7-5) in 32 regular season games with Rochester. He also appeared in six games with the Sabres and had eight shots in that stretch.
He made $525,000 last season.