Panthers claim Casey Fitzgerald off waivers from Sabres

Buffalo needed to open a roster spot for Henri Jokiharju

Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) – It’s not very often that an NHL team is completely healthy, but the Buffalo Sabres are just that, meaning they had to waive a player they didn’t want to.

Casey Fitzgerald is now gone. as the defenseman has been claimed by the Florida Panthers.

The defenseman will be 26 next month, and had spent three-and-a-half seasons playing for the Sabres and Rochester Americans.

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This year, Fitzgerald played 23 games for Buffalo, picking up three assists. In 36 games with the Sabres last year, Fitzgerald had six assists.

Last season with the Amerks, Fitzgerald picked up four goals and eight assists for 12 points in 28 games. He also played 10 games in the Calder Cup Playoffs, netting two goals and five assists for seven points.

Fitzgerald was a physical defenseman in Rochester and last year in Buffalo, but for some reason, he wasn’t playing with that same physical edge this year. After Kale Clague was called up earlier from Rochester, he played well enough to bypass Fitzgerald and now Jacob Bryson.

If the Panthers end up later placing Fitzgerald back on waivers this season, the Sabres would then have first rights to re-claim the defenseman, allowing the team to then directly send him to the Amerks.

While the Sabres were able to get Henri Jokiharju back from Injured Reserve on Tuesday night before Buffalo's matchup with the Seattle Kraken, Fitzgerald's departure now leaves the team a bit short on depth on the blue line. The Sabres now only have four defensemen under contract in the American Hockey League available for call ups, including Lawrence Pilut, Jeremy Davies, Chase Priskie and Joseph Cecconi.

Fitzgerald was a third-round pick of the Sabres in the 2016 NHL Draft. He is also the son of New Jersey Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald.

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The NHL has also rescheduled the Sabres' Dec. 27 postponed game against the Columbus Blue Jackets for April 14. The game was postponed because of the Christmas Weekend blizzard that shutdown the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport.

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