Sabres bolster blue line with Lehtonen, Helbling

The Buffalo Sabres, parent club of the AHL’s Rochester Americans, added blue-line depth on Tuesday by acquiring Timo Helbling from the Washington Capitals and Mikko Lehtonen from the Nashville Predators.

Lehtonen was dealt to the Sabres by the Predators in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick in 2007.

Helbling and center Dainius Zubrus were acquired by Buffalo from the Washington Capitals in exchange for center Jiri Novotny and a first-round pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

Lehtonen, 28, is playing his first season in North America and has recorded one goal and two assists in 15 NHL games with Nashville.  He has also recorded four goals and eight assists for 12 points in 35 AHL contests with the Milwaukee Admirals.

The native of Oulu, Finland, was a 2001 draft pick by the Predators.

helbling_200.jpgHelbling, 25, played two games with Washington this year while spending most of the season with the AHL’s Hershey Bears. He recorded one goal, 16 assists, a plus-12 rating and 106 penalty minutes in 49 games with the Bears.

The Swiss-born defenseman set career highs in 2005-06 with seven goals and 21 points in 60 AHL games for the Springfield Falcons.

Novotny, 23, has played 64 games the past two seasons for the Sabres, recording eight goals and eight assists (16 points). He was a first-round draft choice of the Sabres in 2001 (22nd overall) and spent four seasons with the Americans, posting 17 goals and 37 assists (54 points) for the Amerks last season.