Craig Anderson played two seasons in Buffalo. ©2023, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres bring back former goalie Craig Anderson as ‘hockey liaison’

BUFFALO – In the first season following his retirement, former Sabres goalie Craig Anderson has occasionally dropped in and visited his old teammates.

It turns out he wasn’t just saying hello.

The Sabres on Thursday announced they’ve hired Anderson, 42, for a part-time position as a “hockey liaison.”

In his role, he will “continue to serve as a trusted voice in the Sabres’ locker room, providing insight, guidance, and support to the players and coaching staff,” according to the Sabres.

Anderson’s affable personality and professionalism made him a beloved teammate. He played a critical role in the Sabres’ maturation over his final two seasons, helping the league’s youngest team through a rebuilding phase.

Last season, two years after finishing dead last, the Sabres came within one win of earning a playoff spot.

“Craig Anderson’s voice, experience, and love for the game have been invaluable components to our team’s growth over the past two seasons,” Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams said in a statement. “Our players have benefited greatly from the habits and lessons he picked up during his accomplished 20-year career.

“We are thrilled that Craig will continue to be a guiding presence for the Sabres.”

Following Tuesday’s 3-2 overtime win against the Tampa Bay Lightning, a smiling Anderson was in the dressing room enjoying the Sabres’ first victory this season with his former teammates.

Anderson, the NHL’s oldest player last year, joined the Sabres in 2021 as a free agent following a season in which he mostly served as the Washington Capitals’ third goalie.

His presence provided a team emerging from a wretched 15-win season stability on and off the ice. He earned his 300th NHL win and compiled a 17-12-2 record in 31 games in 2021-22. He registered an 11-11-2 mark in 26 outings last year.

Anderson’s 319 wins are tied for 31st on the all-time list. Following his 709th and final NHL outing April 13, a 4-3 overtime triumph against the Ottawa Senators, the team he backstopped for 10 seasons, he received an emotional sendoff from his teammates and Sabres fans.

The Senators plan to sign Anderson to a one-day contract Tuesday so he can formally retire when the Sabres are in town, according to TSN.

Entering Thursday’s 4-3 loss to the Calgary Flames at KeyBank Center, Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin had spent just 36 seconds killing penalties this season.

Having beefed up their defense depth by signing Connor Clifton and Erik Johnson, the Sabres have more options on the back end.

That leaves Dahlin available to jump on the ice after the Sabres kill the penalty.

“You think of who might be on the ice on the other team after that, some advantages you could have in a mismatch that way,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “Yeah, it’s attractive to reduce minutes for Rasmus in that area.”

Notes: Sabres defenseman Mattias Samuelsson, who left Tuesday’s game after suffering an upper-body injury, played Thursday. … The Sabres scratched defenseman Jacob Bryson, goalie Eric Comrie and winger Victor Olofsson (all healthy) … Defenseman Dennis Gilbert, a Williamsville native, played for the Flames on Wednesday. … Former Rochester Americans coach and Sabres assistant Dan Lambert is in his first season as a Calgary assistant under new coach Ryan Huska. … Sabres prospect Jiri Kulich scored three goals Wednesday, including the overtime winner, in Rochester’s 5-4 road win against the Laval Rocket.

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