We continue our series about Buffalo Sabres history, with each day’s post highlighting a player to have worn the subsequent jersey number with the Buffalo Sabres. This series is not designed to say that any player is the ‘best’ to have worn that jersey number, but rather to allow fans to get a taste of the team’s history and learn more about some of the players in it.
As we start to wind down on this series, we reach jersey number 58. Just three days left in August after today (wait…. what? How is it almost September?!?) and then before you know it, the NHL season will be upon us. Today, we look at one of the two players in Sabres history who has worn number 58: center Paul Szczechura.
Szczechura, now 28, played for the Sabres organization during the 2011-12 season.
He had prior experience with the Tampa Bay Lightning organization, having played for the team at the NHL and AHL levels. The Brantford, Ontario native also played four years of college hockey at Western Michigan University.
Szczechura came into the Sabres organization in 2011 and joined the AHL’s Rochester Americans. He fit in nicely on the team and was a notable contributor, scoring 21 goals and adding 25 assists for 46 points in 57 regular season games. He was near the top of scoring across the board for the Amerks; only Derek Whitmore had more goals (28), and only Phil Varone had more points (52). Szczechura was a solid player for the Amerks and saw nine games of NHL action with the Sabres that season as well.
He had four points (1-3) in nine games with the Sabres, including a pair of assists in his first game with Buffalo (vs. Washington, November 26, 2011). He had at least a shot in seven of those nine games, and his best game was a December 9 matchup against Florida that saw him go 71.4 percent in the faceoff circle.
After three playoff games with the Amerks – in which Szczechura talled one assist – the offseason began after a first-round exit at the hands of (who else) the Toronto Marlies. Szczechura’s contract with the Sabres expired, and after declining several offers over the past few years from KHL teams, he decided to take advantage of the opportunity this time around, signing with HC Lev.
And so it began, as Szczechura took his talents overseas.
He played three games with Prague Lev before transfering to Dinamo Riga. It was there he played the majority of that season, notching eight goals and 20 assists for 28 points in 43 games. Szczechura remained there for the 2013-14 season, notching 42 points (17-18) in 53 games. He also had four assists and six penalty minutes in seven playoff games.
This past May, he signed a contract with Dinamo Minsk, and it’s there he’ll begin playing next month when the KHL season starts.
Other players to wear #58 for the Sabres: Tim Kennedy.