Sabres re-sign Connolly, acquire goalie Tellqvist
The Buffalo Sabres signed slick-skating Tim Connolly to a two-year, $9 million contract extension Wednesday, ending trade speculation involving the playmaking center.
Connolly, whose current three-year deal expires after this season, will remain a major part of the Sabres' late-season playoff push.
"From our side -- ownership, management and the coaching staff -- this is a big thing for us and an important step in the progress of this hockey club and the future of this hockey club," Sabres general manager Darcy Regier said. "Coming into the trade deadline, this was the most important thing we could accomplish."
Regier also announced the team acquired goaltender Mikael Tellqvist in a trade with Phoenix. Buffalo gave up a fourth-round draft pick in 2010.
Tellqvist, 7-5-1 in 15 appearances this season, bolsters Buffalo's depth behind Patrick Lalime, who has taken over the starting job in place of injured Ryan Miller.
"We felt it was very important, given the schedule and the uncertainty of Ryan's situation, that we have an understanding of what is the best-case scenario and a worst-case scenario," Regier said. "We looked at four sets of three games in four nights coming up over the next month, and we wanted to make sure we had support for the club, and specifically Patrick Lalime."
The Sabres were hopeful that Tellqvist, who is due to become an unrestricted free agent after earning $800,000 this season, would arrive in Buffalo late Wednesday afternoon. He's in Boston where the Coyotes are scheduled to play the Bruins on Thursday.
The signing of Connolly confirms the Sabres are not giving up on making the postseason this year. Entering Wednesday night's game against Montreal, Buffalo is in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, two points behind ninth-place Carolina and three points behind Pittsburgh, which currently holds the eighth and final playoff spot.
"For us, it's better than a trade," Regier said. "In order to keep Tim and not give up any assets, I think it's a terrific day."
The oft-injured center was signed to a three-year deal worth almost $9 million after his breakout 2005-06 season when he recorded career highs in goals (16) and points (55) in 63 games. But Connolly has battled a variety of injuries in his career, including a concussion that forced him to miss the entire 2003-04 season and all but two games of the 2006-07 regular season.
This year, Connolly has 26 points in 29 games, but he's missed more than 30 games due to a broken rib and broken vertebra.
"The hope was to stay here," Connolly said. "This was the No. 1 option. It's what I wanted. We have a great bunch of guys, and have a chance to win here for years to come."