The Bear Cave

July 8, 2009 6:48 AM

Fata and Sabourin Add to Organizational Depth

There is no question that fans enjoy seeing their teams sign star players to improve their chances of going deep in the playoffs. Those star players are almost always in the spotlight, receiving praise or criticism based on said club's results on the scoreboard. While the stars certainly have an impact, winning teams are typically known for having a tremendous amount of depth.

Take this year's Stanley Cup Final as an example. The Pittsburgh Penguins had plenty of star power with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but could also lean on the likes of Maxime Talbot and Tyler Kennedy to provide a physical or offensive spark. The Detroit Red Wings also had their share of talent with Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen, but don't overlook the upstart Grand Rapids Griffins' line of Darren Helm, Justin Abdelkader, and Ville Leino. Hockey is a team sport, and championship teams have solid rosters from top to bottom.

On Tuesday, the Boston Bruins added some depth to their team, signing defensemen Drew Fata and goaltender Dany Sabourin to one-year contracts.

The first deal of the day went to 25-year old blueliner, Drew Fata. Fata was originally selected in the third round of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins. After three seasons of junior hockey in the OHL with Toronto and Kingston, the defenseman broke into the professional ranks, splitting the 2003-04 campaign between Wheeling of the ECHL and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL. Unfortunately, Fata had a difficult time sticking with the Baby Pens, as he split all three of his years in that organization between those two levels. His AHL time amounted to 83 games, in which he picked up three goals and 15 assists.

During the summer of 2006, Fata decided that it was time to explore a new option. The Sault Ste. Marie, ON native signed on with the New York Islanders, earning a permanent spot in the AHL with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. In 64 games, Fata recorded three goals and seven assists, while also displaying plenty of physical play with 185 penalty minutes. His abilities earned him three regular season games and one postseason appearance with the big club, where he scored a goal and dropped the mitts. 2007-08 was a similar season for Fata in New York's system. The defender compiled three goals, 11 assists, and 197 penalty minutes in 71 games with Bridgeport, before being rewarded with five games and one assist at the NHL level.

Fata moved over to the Phoenix Coyotes' organization this past season, going scoreless in seven games with the San Antonio Rampage, before finishing the year with seven goals, nine assists, and 135 penalty minutes in 68 games as a member of the Binghamton Senators.

28-year old goaltender Dany Sabourin was the second player to sign in Boston on Tuesday, joining Fata with another one-year deal. Sabourin's journey to the NHL began in the summer of 1998, when he was taken in the fourth round of the NHL Entry Draft by the Calgary Flames. After spending three seasons with the QMJHL's Sherbrooke Castors, Sabourin found himself in a similar boat as Fata, picking up frequent flier miles between the AHL and ECHL. Finally, in 2002, the Val-d'Or, QC native was able to secure a spot with the Saint John Flames, going 15-17-4 in 41 appearances. 2003-04 was an interesting campaign for Sabourin, as he spent time at three different levels. The netminder went 6-3-1 in the ECHL with the Las Vegas Wranglers, 5-7-2 with the AHL's Lowell Lock Monsters, and 0-3 in his first four NHL appearances with Calgary.

The summer of 2004 was a time of change for Sabourin, as he found a new home with the Pittsburgh Penguins' organization. After going 19-6-1, with a 1.67 goals against average, and a .942 save percentage in 27 games with the Wheeling Nailers, it became obvious that the AHL was where Sabourin belonged. In two seasons with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, the 6-foot-4 backstop went 38-22-6, earning recognition as the AHL's top goaltender in 2005-06.

The wild ride continued in October of 2006, as Sabourin was claimed off of waivers by the Vancouver Canucks. Unfortunately, he only played in eleven games during the 2006-07 season, going 2-4-1 in Vancouver and 1-1 in Manitoba with the Moose. Unhappy with his lack of playing time, Dany returned to the Penguins, where he earned an NHL roster spot behind Marc-Andre Fleury. Sabourin spent 43 games with Pittsburgh over the last two years, posting a record of 16-17-3. The 28-year old was then traded to the Edmonton Oilers, leading to a 5-6-2 finish to the campaign with the AHL's Springfield Falcons.

With histories covered, it's now time to define the roles for these two new members of the Boston Bruins. Drew Fata will likely begin training camp on the border. Depending on how quickly Matt Hunwick recovers from his spleen surgery, Fata could find himself in the NHL if he has a successful camp. If not, he will be a tremendous veteran piece to add to the Providence blueline, more or less taking the place of Johnny Boychuk, assuming that Boychuk is able to make the big club as a sixth or seventh defenseman.

As for Dany Sabourin, let the battle of the backups begin! Because of the potential that Tuukka Rask has, Sabourin is currently being looked at as the underdog. In all likelihood, Sabourin will be the starting netminder for the Providence Bruins when October rolls around. However, Rask will have to perform well in training camp and during the season, or else the two could swap positions. The players that this becomes interesting for are Kevin Regan and Matt Dalton. With Tim Thomas, Rask, and Sabourin all signed as numbers one, two, and three, there is only one spot left in Providence. After backing up last season, Regan might look to sign elsewhere, hoping for a starting job in the AHL. Regan's decision would ultimately affect whether Dalton begins the year in the AHL or the ECHL.

In terms of the current action around the Boston Bruins, the team began the 2009 Development Camp on Tuesday with medical and physical testing. However, everyone will be looking forward to 9:30 on Wednesday morning, as the young guns hit the ice at Wilmington's Ristuccia Arena for the first on-ice segment of the week. Wednesday also features an off-ice workout at noon.

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