BUFFALO – Center Sean Malone’s 2018-19 season started ominously. After some impressive performances early in his second NHL training camp, the West Seneca native injured his knee in the Sabres’ preseason opener.
So instead of competing for a spot on the big club, Malone, 24, didn’t play his first game until Nov. 7 with the Rochester Americans.
Injuries limited Malone to only 38 appearances during a frustrating campaign. The Harvard product never seemed to find a groove, scoring four goals and 13 points and occasionally sitting out games while healthy.
Still, Malone, who wasn’t given a qualifying offer by the Sabres, will return to the organization next season.
The Amerks have signed Malone to a one-year AHL contract, the team announced Tuesday.
In two AHL seasons, Malone has compiled 16 goals, 35 points and a minus-10 rating in 101 games.
Malone played one contest with the Sabres late in 2016-17 after signing his entry-level contract. The Sabres drafted him in the sixth round in 2013, 159th overall.
As expected, the Sabres tendered qualifying offers to every restricted free agent who played in the NHL last season: forwards Remi Elie, Zemgus Girgensons, Johan Larsson, Evan Rodrigues and C.J. Smith; defenseman Jake McCabe; and goalie Linus Ullmark.
NHL teams had until Tuesday to extend qualifying offers.
Cornel, 23, was the only Amerk to play all 76 regular-season games last season. He was, however, a healthy scratch for two of the team’s three playoff games.
The first session is this afternoon inside Harborcenter.
All six of the Sabres’ six 2019 draft picks are listed. So are four players who spent time in Buffalo last season: wingers Victor Olofsson and Tage Thompson and defensemen Will Borgen and Lawrence Pilut.
Finnish center Arttu Ruotsalainen, who inked a three-year, entry-level contract in May, is also listed.
The Sabres also invited Niagara forward Eric Cooley, who scored nine goals and 27 points in 41 games last season.
The Sabres introduced Cozens and Johnson to the media Tuesday at KeyBank Center.
“Just getting a tour of the dressing room and everything and being in the city, just walking around and people recognizing me, it’s pretty cool,” said Cozens, a native of Whitehorse, Yukon. “It’s definitely setting in that I’m starting to live my NHL dream.”
Just days after the draft, it seems like the entire territory in northwestern Canada might adopt the Sabres as their favorite NHL team.
Cozens would be the fourth Yukon native to play in the NHL.
“Lots of people saying Buffalo just got 35,000 new fans,” Cozens said. “Everyone’s supporting and it’s going to be most of Whitehorse’s new favorite team.”
Cozens is listed as No. 79 on the roster.
Two former Sabres – winger Justin Bailey (Philadelphia Flyers) and defenseman Nathan Beaulieu (Winnipeg Jets) – didn’t receive a qualifying offer from their new teams.
Bailey, a Williamsville native, played 11 games with the Flyers after the Sabres traded him Jan. 17.
Defenseman Adam Clendening, a Wheatfield native, signed a two-year contract extension with the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday.
According to capfriendly.com, Clendening has a two-way deal next season worth $700,000 in the NHL and $400,000 in the AHL. The contract becomes a one-way deal worth $700,000 in 2020-21.
Clendening, 26, played seven playoff games with the Blue Jackets after appearing in only four regular-season contests.
He spent the bulk of the season with the Cleveland Monsters, compiling four goals and 37 points in 44 AHL outings.