The Sabres invited Joe Finley to training camp last season. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres disappointed to lose Finley on waivers

BUFFALO – The New York Islanders claimed hulking Rochester Americans defenseman Joe Finley, who played five games with the Sabres last season, off waivers Monday.

“Actually, it was disappointing, but I understand it,” Sabres general manager Darcy Regier said Monday inside the First Niagara Center following an intrasquad scrimmage. “(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.”

Finley, a training camp invite last season, compiled 12 penalty minutes and a minus-3 rating with the Sabres.

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.”

The 25-year-old 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.

The Sabres actually left two Amerks forwards – Kevin Porter and Nick Tarnasky – scheduled to skate in the scrimmage in Rochester. If they had participated, they would’ve been subject 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 Monday. NHL rosters must be set by 3 p.m. Friday.

Notes: First-round pick Mikhail Grigorenko centered Ville Leino and Steve Ott again during the scrimmage. “I thought Mikhail played very well,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. “That line – you can’t do it by yourself – played well. … (Grigorenko) was probably in or four or five good opportunities. … Overall it was a pretty good showing.” … A crowd of 10,175 people watched the scrimmage. “It was pretty impressive,” Ruff said. … Ruff said Cody McCormick (finger) got through the scrimmage OK. The forward seems to be questionable for opening day on Sunday. … The Sabres report only 18,000 tickets remain for the 2012-13 regular season. Four games – Sunday, Feb. 17, March 12 and March 30 – have sold out. Only single seats remain in the 100 and 200 levels for the other 20 home games. Approximately 18,000 300-level tickets are left.

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