In a move that is as much a show of confidence in his young defensemen as a salary dump, Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello yesterday traded veteran blueliner Henrik Tallinder to the Sabres in exchange for minor league forward Riley Boychuk.

Tallinder, 34, was set to make $3.5 million this season with a $3.375 million salary-cap hit. After a busy opening day of free agency on Friday when the Devils signed Michael Ryder, Ryane Clowe and Rostislav Olesz for an annual hit of $9.35 million, Lamoriello was left with just under $4 million of cap space. He now has more than $7 million, which could be used in part to re-sign unrestricted free agent defenseman Marek Zidlicky.

Lamoriello told reporters the trade was also made to clear roster space for a quartet of young defensemen — Alex Urbom, Jon Merrill, Eric Gelinas and Damon Severson — at least one of whom he expects to contribute this season. It also implies talented 20-year-old blueliner Adam Larsson will be heavily relied on.

Boychuk is on the last year of a two-way contract and will not play with the Devils.