Maine Hockey Journal

Sabres’ first round draft pick to call Portland home

Persson (#8) looking to make a save (Courtesy of Timra IK)

Persson (#8) looking to make a save (Courtesy of Timra IK)

Portland, ME – It’s expected that defenseman Dennis Persson will be wearing a Portland Pirates jersey by this weekend.

Persson, who just completed his season with Timra of the SEL after losing game seven to HV71 in a first round match up, was quoted in a recent Swedish news report indicating he was on his way to Portland and will finish the regular season with the Pirates.

He also indicated that he’d likely be with the Pirates next season.

Pirates’ goalie Jhonas Enroth, who was a teammate of Persson’s at the Under-18 tournament in 2006 for Sweden said he expected him to be in Portland by Thursday after immigration issues were worked out.

The Pirates and Sabres declined comment at this time, but did not deny the report.

Persson, a Sabres’ first round draft pick (24th overall) in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, has played the past three seasons in the SEL with Djurgardens and Timra, making this the first time he will play professional hockey in North America.

In 76 games in the SEL, he’s scored one goal and six assists. Not known as an offensive defenseman, Persson is a steady defender with a solid presence on the ice and has good vision to make the first outlet pass out of the zone, something the Pirates have had issues with this season.

It was unclear if Persson could play in Portland because clear day rules, but Jason Chaimovitch, VP of Communications clarified that Persson was eligible to play for the Pirates.

“(Persson) is eligible per AHL by-laws as a player signed to an entry-level contract prior to age 23 who has been loaned to a European league and who has played less than three years pro,” he said.

Getting Persson in the line up will be a boost to a team in need of a better presence on the blueline defensively, especially in recent games where the Pirates gave up leads late in games.

Geoff Waugh, just acquired by the Pirates for Aaron Slattengren, was a minus-4 as he was on the ice for four of the five goals given up by the Pirates in Saturday’s 5-4 loss to the Hershey Bears.

With the playoffs still within reach for Portland, they will need to tighten up defensively, as they control their own fate as they play divisional opponents for the remainder of the year.

Persson isn’t the only player who could be joining the Pirates this week as Matt Generous and Andrew Orpik have recently finished their collegiate careers.

In 169 games with St. Lawrence University, Generous scored 18 goals, 38 assists for 56 points with 133 penalty minutes and recently named ECAC’s Best Defensive Defenseman.

Orpik, 23, played four seasons with Boston College and was a teammate of Pirates’ forward Nathan Gerbe when B.C. won the national title in 2008.

In four seasons with the Eagles, he’s scored 18 goals, 29 assists for 47 points in 155 games.

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The Pirates did make a transaction this week by releasing John DeCaro from his PTO, sending him back to Los Vegas of the ECHL.

In three games with the Pirates, DeCaro performed well going 3-0-0 with a 2.92 GAA and .922 SV%. He suffered a broken collarbone and was out of action for nearly a month before returning to practice.

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