Finley, a training camp invite last season, played five games with the Sabres in 2011-12, compiling 12 penalty minutes and a minus-3 rating.
The 6-foot-8, 249-pound American first earned an AHL contract, then a two-way deal after impressing the Sabres.
Finley’s size earned him a cult following among Sabres and Amerks supporters, with fans often tweeting about the “Legend of Joe Finley.”
He had one goal, five points, 81 penalty minutes and a plus-3 rating in 36 games with the Amerks this season. Washington originally selected him 27th overall in 2005.
While Finley was likely only a recall player this season, he provided some much-needed depth and toughness.
The Sabres have nine defensemen in training camp right now. T.J. Brennan must clear waivers if the Sabres want to send him back to Rochester.
Are they going to risk losing another defender and whittling away their depth further before the season starts? Stay tuned.
Update: Sabres general manager Darcy Regier said following tonight’s scrimmage he was disappointed to lose Finley.
“I understand it,” Regier said. “(Isles general manager) Garth Snow called me just before waiver time to give me a courtesy call to let me know they were going to take him.
“While I was surprised, there’s an element to Joe’s game that I understand that a team might have an interest in him.”
The Sabres actually left two forwards – Kevin Porter and Nick Tarnasky – scheduled to skate in the scrimmage in Rochester. If they had participated, they would’ve been subjected to waivers before they could play for the Amerks again.
The two and some other Amerks will go through waivers by noon Thursday, however. Goalie David Leggio and defenseman Drew Schiestel cleared today. NHL rosters must be set by 3 p.m. Friday.