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Sabres ink Gragnani

The last of the Buffalo Sabres' free agents is now under contract as the team announced a one-year deal with restricted free agent defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani late Thursday afternoon.

Gragnani, 24, was a restricted free agent whose NHL salary last year on a two-way contract was $500,000. Terms of his new deal were not disclosed.

Gragnani was named the AHL's top defenseman last year at Portland after breaking the Pirates' franchise records for assists (48) and points (60) by a defenseman. He was a late-season call-up after the release of Craig Rivet and an injury to Jordan Leopold and got his first three NHL points in that span.

Gragnani then became a key member of the Buffalo blue line during the playoffs, posting a goal and six assists in the seven games against Philadelphia.

The six assists were a club record for a rookie defenseman in a playoff series. The seven points tied Pierre Turgeon's 1988 total for points in a series by a rookie, and led all rookie defensemen in the playoffs even though Gragnani played just one round.

Gragnani, however, figures to face major competition in training camp to get on the ice in the wake of the signings of newcomers Robyn Regehr and Christian Ehrhoff, the new multiyear deals given to Andrej Sekera and Mike Weber and the return of Leopold and Tyler Myers.

Ehrhoff, who signed a 10-year, $40-million deal, is likely to take the bulk of Gragnani's time on the team's power-play unit.


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