By Bill Hoppe
NIAGARA FALLS —
The Sabres have added two strong veteran forwards to their Rochester Americans farm club, signing old friend Michael Ryan and Paul Szczechura to one-year deals Tuesday.
Both have played 83 NHL games and provide depth for the Sabres.
The 31-year-old Ryan played 65 games for the Sabres from 2006-08, including 46 contests when he spent the entire 2007-08 season campaign in Buffalo, his only full NHL season. Ryan previously played in Rochester from 2003-07.
The Sabres were willing to offer Ryan an AHL spot again in 2008, but he eventually signed in Carolina, playing 18 games with the Hurricanes.
Battling hip and groin injuries, Ryan missed most of 2009-10. He landed in Springfield on an AHL tryout last season, and then finished the year in Adirondack, Philadelphia’s affiliate, scoring 25 goals and 41 points in 52 games.
Ryan has quietly morphed into an elite AHL scorer, compiling 79 goals and 137 points in his last 151 games. The Sabres originally acquired his rights from Dallas in the 2003 Stu Barnes trade. Ryan has seven goals, 18 points and 34 penalty minutes in his NHL career.
The 25-year-old Szczechura, meanwhile, has played parts of two seasons in Tampa Bay, including 53 games in 2009-10. He has nine NHL goals, 16 points and 30 penalty minutes.
Szczechura played all last season in Norfolk, scoring 22 goals and 52 points in 79 games. He has spent most of the last five seasons in the AHL, compiling 62 goals and 148 points in 214 games.
The Sabres also inked veterans Matt Ellis, Drew MacIntyre, Colin Stuart and Derek Whitmore for Rochester earlier this offseason. They purchased the Americans, their farm team from 1979-2008, in June, ending their three-year affiliation with Portland.