On July 1st the Devils signed Henrik Tallinder as a replacement for Paul Martin who had just signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins. After that signing, a quick flurry of activity occurred ranging from the signings of Anton Volchenkov and Johan Hedberg and to the possibility of re-signing Ilya Kovalchuk. Then the Kovalchuk saga dominated Devils news for the next two months. Since the Kovalchuk saga is now over (with only the 2010 Roster Purge remaining) I wanted to circle back and learn a little bit about Tallinder.
I contacted Andy Baron over at SBN Buffalo Sabres site: www.DiebytheBlade.com to ask him some general questions about Tallinder so that we can get a sense of the type of player he is and what to expect. I also provided him with some answers to questions he had about Rob Niedermayer, who Buffalo signed as a free agent. Once that link is active I will update this post or post a new fanshot to direct everyone to it.
Tom: Andy, as a Buffalo fan I am sure you have a strong opinion here so I will first ask you whether you were for or against re-signing Tallinder?
Andy: Personally, I would have liked to re-sign Hank, as he's a steady defensive defenseman, a fan favorite of many, and made a heck of a partner for Tyler Myers. The problem for the Sabres is always price and the front office obviously thought they could find a better bargain out there, and probably get younger at the same time.
Tom: While he hasn't been advertised as an offensive minded defenseman, there has been talk that Tallinder has a good first pass out of the defensive zone to start the offensive rush. Is that something you noticed while he played for the Sabres?
Andy: Tallinder makes a fine first pass, but I wouldn't say it's anything to get overly excited about. He's careful with the puck in his own zone and won't make too many mistakes, but he's not usually the guy to make that "Wow!" pass either. However, his ability to do so this season was eclipsed by Tyler "The Ultimate Puck Carrier" Myers, so perhaps his first pass is laying dormant in there somewhere.
Tom: Lou Lamoriello has made it a point to mention how Tallinder was partly brought in to help mentor our young defensemen (namely fellow Swede Alexander Urbom). How much impact-if any-did you see Tallinder have on Tyler Myers game?
Andy: The Tallinder-Myers pairing worked out incredibly well for the Sabres, thanks in large part to the steadiness of Tallinder. I love Tyler Myers with all my heart as any good Sabres fan ought to, but Myers made his fair share of rookie mistakes to go along with the highlights (shh...don't tell anyone.) The fact that Tallinder was always back there to bail him out or to calm things down on the next shift really helped Myers to play with confidence, even after a poor decision, and you could see that confidence grow as the season progressed.
Tom: Buffalo was very successful last year on the penalty kill as they improved by 12 spots from the previous year in penalty killing percentage and Tallinder has played some pretty big minutes on that unit during both years. Was he an integral part of the success or was the success due to Myer's time and/or Mike Grier's time on the penalty kill?
Andy: Hank's been a steady (there's that word again) member of the PK for many years around here, but I think the additions of Myers and Grier, along with the team's renewed commitment to Lindy Ruff's "Total Team Defense" system all played equal roles in last year's dramatic improvement. I would expect Tallinder to keep logging those big PK minutes for the Devils, and I don't think you'll be dissatisfied with any of them.
I want to thank Andy again for taking the time to give us his thoughts on Henrik 'Hank' Tallinder. So now it's your turn Devils fans....What are your expectations for Tallinder this year? Will he be the same player without Tyler Myers? Sound off below! Shall we call him Hank or Henrik? I vote for Hank.