Maine Hockey Journal

Sabres sign defenseman, DiPenta, to one-year contract

Portland, ME – The Buffalo Sabres continue to add grit to their blueline, yesterday, when they signed defenseman Joe DiPenta to one-year contract.

DiPenta, 30, spent last season in the Swedish Elite League with Frolunda where scored one goal, six assists for seven points in 47 games.

Prior to heading to Sweden, he spent three seasons (2005-2008) with the Anaheim Ducks, former NHL affiliate of the Portland Pirates, where he won the Stanley Cup in 2007. DiPenta has scored six goals, 17 assists in 174 NHL games with Atlanta and Anaheim.

It’s not really clear why Sabres signed the 6-2, 199-pound forward other than to provide the Sabres with depth at the blueline as well as grit. It’s hard to imagine him being assigned to Portland after spending three seasons in the NHL.

He’d certainly be a nice addition to the Pirates blueline, adding not only veteran leadership, but also a quality shutdown man to help what is going to be a very young defensive squad.

Current Anaheim Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle has also had a soft spot for DiPenta going back to his days with the Manitoba Moose, where Carlyle was the head coach.

Carlyle often referred to DiPenta has “Joe Dependable” because of his ability to get the job done. He wasn’t flashy nor was he going to put up many points, but he also came to practice ready to work hard and when called upon he was ready work just as hard.

“I was 215 when I showed up at Vancouver’s camp, and Randy was going to take me to Manitoba, DiPenta said in an OC Register interview. “I want you to lose five pounds. I couldn’t believe the difference it made.”

“It’s like I got rid of a big pack on my back,” he said in the interview. “But Randy also gave me the assignment of stopping the big scorers. I hadn’t been asked to do that before. I appreciated it, all the responsibility. It made me feel more important.”

In 369 AHL game with Philadelphia, Chicago and Manitoba, DiPenta scored nine goals, 44 assists for 53 points.

The Barrie, Ontario native was drafted in the third round (61st overall) of the 1998 NHL Entry Draft by the Florida Panthers.

NOTES: The Sabres re-signed Matt Ellis to a one-year contract. Ellis, 27, spent 45 games with the Sabres last season after being acquired off the waivers by the Los Angeles Kings on October 1, 2008. Ellis spent a short amount of time with the Pirates, scoring two goals, two assists in 12 games.

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