Matt Ellis remembers sitting at home in Ontario nearly three years ago, unsure where his career would take him next. Los Angeles had just let him go, the second time in eight months he had to endure the uncertainty of waivers. As an undrafted fourth-liner, it appeared Ellis might never enjoy much stability.
Ellis had no idea then he was about to find a home. The Sabres, down two players to injury, claimed the hardworking forward late in the preseason.
“I thought, ‘You know what, maybe I’ll stay a little longer with some injury problems, maybe get a shot?’” Ellis recalled Wednesday, a day after signing a two-year contract with the Sabres. “I didn’t really have any expectations at that point.
“To be sitting here entering my fourth season, it’s an amazing feeling,” he said. “It’s been a great ride. I’ve met some amazing people here in Buffalo. I couldn’t have asked for any more.”
Ellis has a two-way deal for the upcoming season, and then a one-way contract for 2012-13. Last season, he served as Portland’s captain while shuttling between the minors and NHL, playing 52 AHL games and 12 with the Sabres. He could be ticketed for the AHL again, this time in Rochester, the Sabres’ new affiliate.
“If it’s not the right shift right away and I go to Rochester, that’s a pretty good deal as well,” Ellis said.
The 29-year-old has spent many summers fretting over his career. He re-signed in late August last year. The early contract is refreshing.
“To be able to take a deep breath now and be able to focus on what I need to do for the next two seasons, it’s a feeling that I haven’t been able to feel for the last little while of my career,” Ellis said.