BUFFALO – Less than three years ago, Brian Flynn was an undrafted and mostly unknown prospect at the University of Maine. The versatile forward’s signing with the Sabres barely registered with the fan base.
But Flynn quickly and quietly worked himself into a strong NHL prospect.
After less than a season in Rochester, Flynn debuted with the Sabres in 2012-13. The 26-year-old played regularly until they dealt him to the Montreal Canadiens for a fifth-round pick in 2016 this morning, hours before the NHL trade deadline.
“I don’t think it’s all sunk in quite yet,” Flynn told reporters in Tampa Bay. “I still haven’t even talked to any of the guys in the locker room.”
Flynn is leaving the NHL’s worst team for the Eastern Conference’s best.
“It was a weird path, but I’m excited where I’m at right now,” Flynn said.
Flynn, a restricted free agent after the season, said he “knew it was a possibility.”
“I think (general manager) Tim Murray’s pretty clear that anyone restricted or unrestricted this year was up for grabs,” he said. “It was surprising still when you get the call. I’m really grateful for the opportunity I was given here.”
The Boston native has five goals and 17 points in 54 games this season and 17 goals and 41 points in 159 NHL appearances.
Flynn, a strong checker who can play center and wing, skated 15 minutes, 53 seconds a game with the rebuilding Sabres this season. On the contender like the Canadiens, Flynn will likely have a third- or fourth-line role and kill penalties. He often skated among the top nine forwards with Buffalo.
“I’m excited, just do whatever they ask me there,” he said.
He added: “Obviously, I don’t expect to go there and play the 20 minutes a night I’ve been playing here. They’ve got a really deep lineup, lot of good forwards.”
Flynn played more than 20 minutes in the last two games and scored in Thursday’s 6-3 win against Vancouver.
“I think recently I’ve been playing well,” he said.
What will people back home think about a Boston native joining the Bruins’ most heated rival?
“All my buddies are Bruins fans, but I think they’ll understand,” he said.
Related: Sabres’ Brian Flynn embracing checking role, starting to showcase slick offensive skills