The Sabres signed Amerks winger Taylor Leier to a one-year, two-way contract worth $700,000.
Amerks General Manager Randy Sexton said Leier, who inked a one-year AHL deal after tearing his labrum last May, would have received an NHL contract last offseason if he had remained healthy.
Shortly after his season debut Dec. 11, Leier, 26, scored five goals over a four-game stretch. Then a frightening injury – teammate Kevin Porter’s shot hit him in the neck, causing him to be stretchered off the ice – sidelined Leier for 12 games.
“I’ve had a chip on my shoulder since the surgery happened and then my neck injury,” Leier said. “I think I’ve become stronger because of it. You learn a lot about yourself when there’s adversity in front of you.
“It hasn’t been the easiest year. Just without a training camp, no exhibition games. But at the same time, I obviously knew I wasn’t going to start in Buffalo.
“I had one job to do, and it was come play for the Amerks, which I was very grateful for and the contract they gave me.”
Leier, who played 55 games with the Philadelphia Flyers earlier in his career, said he tried not to think about earning an NHL contract.
“I just tried to feel like my old self, which I have, and things just kind of took care of itself,” he said.
Leier, of course, boosts the Sabres’ forward depth in Rochester.
“We don’t have a ton of guys here on NHL contracts, particularly up front, so we wanted to make sure we have some depth just in case things go a different way come trade deadline,” Sexton said.
Leier has scored seven goals and nine points in 18 games this season.