You might not know it, but the Sabres made a roster move yesterday. I know, I was caught off guard as well. In fact, most of the places you would expect that news to go seem to have missed out on it.
Buffalo Sabres GM Darcy Regier announced today the Sabres have signed unrestricted free agent forward Matt Ellis to a one-year contract.
Ellis (8/31/81, 6’1”, 210 lbs.) played in 45 games for the Sabres last season, setting career highs in goals (7), assists (5) and points (12). Ellis had a career-best three point game (2+1) in Boston on January 3, 2009. Ellis also had four points (2+2) in 12 games with Portland (AHL).
Ellis now has 20 points (10+10) in 115 career NHL games with Buffalo, Los Angeles and Detroit. The 27-year-old native of Welland, Ont., was claimed off waivers by the Sabres from Los Angeles on October 1, 2008.
Of course this glorified press release lacks the value of the contract, making it of very little use to any of us. They were better off just Tweeting it, which they somehow managed to do without any major disasters.
To me the lack of reports on this signing are a bit odd. None of the major sources like TSN or Yahoo Sports seem to have this, and even The Buffalo News had the news added onto a Vogl piece on rookie camp. I know the news broke relatively late in the day, but even so there should have been an AP brief TBN could have used well before deadline. I mean free agent signings are rare around these parts, they couldn’t find a few inches for this?
I would be snarky and say the lack of reporting is because the contract isn’t a big deal, but I do actually like the signing. Ellis did a nice job playing his part on this team last season, and he’s a guy the Sabres need more of. He came on with few expectations back in October and played a very physical game while chipping in a few points here and there.
At times he was the best player on the ice for Buffalo, if only for the work ethic he displayed in his game. I thought he should have seen a few more games but was stashed in the press box at times later in the year, and of course spent the majority of October playing in Portland.
Ellis is a good pickup, but there’s still plenty of work to be done. My problems are less about signing a guy like Ellis and more about putting Ellis back on a team that is made up of the same players. Matt Ellis is not the problem; the problem is that there are stretches when Matt Ellis is the best player on the ice for Buffalo.
I have to be honest, out of all the UFAs the Sabres had on the roster before July 1, Ellis was the guy I wanted to see back on this team come October. Spacek was costing too much and wanted too many years, but Ellis was someone we could get back at a reasonable rate. We have no idea what that rate is just yet, but I’d assume it won’t break the bank.
Again, it’s early and I’m sure GMDR will make a whiz-bang trade that’s going to knock my sarcastic socks off. Still, if we’re issuing a work-in-progress grade to his “retooling”, Darcy is hovering just above the point of failure. Matt Ellis might grind out a few grade points for him, but I’ve yet to be impressed.
We used to have a curve for Darcy and his summer shenanigans. Perhaps it’s too harsh to remove it altogether, but consider it greatly diminished.
UPDATE: The NHLPA Web site has Ellis’ 2009-10 salary listed at $475,000. No word on whether it’s a one-way or two-way contract.