- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Buffalo Sabres placed captain Craig Rivet on waivers on Wednesday in a bid to clear their books of a defenseman who has spent much of the season struggling to get playing time.

The move was made hours prior to Buffalo’s home game against Atlanta, a person familiar with the team’s decision confirmed to The Associated Press. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Sabres have not announced the move.

A message left with the Sabres was not returned.

Rivet is a 16-year NHL veteran who has a goal and two assists in 23 games this season. He’s been the odd-man out in a defensively deep lineup for much of this season, having been a healthy scratch for the past 16 games.

Canada’s TSN first reported the move.

Acquired in a trade with San Jose in the summer of 2008, Rivet is in the final year of a contract that was to pay him $3.5 million this season. If he goes unclaimed, it’s unclear whether Rivet will report to the minors.

Rivet opened this season coming off surgery to repair an injury to his left shoulder that bothered him for much of last year. In September, he had raised the prospect that this would be his final season.

He played in Buffalo’s first eight games before missing one with an injury. Rivet was then in and out of the lineup for much of the next two months before appearing in nine straight games, including his final one on Jan. 11, in which he had just under six minutes of ice time in a 5-2 loss to Philadelphia.

Despite being a newcomer in Buffalo, Rivet was awarded the team’s captaincy following a vote of Sabres players during his first season with the team.

Rivet was selected by Montreal in the third round of the 1992 draft, and made his NHL debut with the Canadiens two years later. He spent parts of 12 seasons in Montreal before being dealt to San Jose during the 2006-07 season.

A hard-hitting defensive player, Rivet’s best NHL season came with San Jose in 2007-08, when he had five goals and a career-best 35 points.

He has 49 goals and 187 assists for 236 points in 909 career games.

The decision to waive Rivet is the first move the Sabres made under new ownership, coming a day after Terry Pegula closed on a $189 million deal to purchase the team from Tom Golisano. And Rivet’s pending departure comes less than a week before the NHL’s trading deadline on Monday.

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