Thursday, July 31, 2014

HOF'er Brian Trottier could be joining the Sabres as an assistant coach

Reprinted with permission from

Bucky Gleason of the Buffalo News is quoting sources as saying that NY Islanders Hall of Famer Brian Trottier will be joining the Sabres as an assistant coach.

The 58 yr. old Trottier had a stellar playing career as part of the Islanders dynasty of the late 70's/early 80's and with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the early 90's.

He won the Calder Trophy in 1976, the Art Ross and Hart Trophies in 1979 and the Conn Smythe in 1980 and was opposite Hall of Fame RW Mike Bossy during the Isles four consecutive Stanley Cups from 1980-83.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Hiring Arturs Irbe might be a good start for Sabres coach Ted Nolan

Rewrote from a 4-14-2014 buffalosabresnow article and published by

Back in April while Sabres head coach Ted Nolan was set to relieve his entire coaching staff of their duties, WGR's Paul Hamilton mentioned that long-time goalie coach Jim Corsi could possibly be replaced by former NHL goalie Arturs Irbe. Irbe was one of Nolan's assistants at the Olympics this year.

At the NHL draft two months later, The Buffalo News' Tim Vogl reported that Irbe is still the front-runner. "It's being assumed in hockey circles that Irbe is a given for the job," wrote Vogl.

Yet, as of late July, Nolan still has no assistants, but Irbe's name has popped up once again.

Nolan and Irbe have a history and it would be somewhat fitting he was Nolan's first hire. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Luke Adam at the crossroads

Reprinted with permission from

Amerks forward Luke Adam is the last of the Sabres restricted free agents still unsigned this summer.

The 24 yr. old who was drafted in the 2nd round (44th overall) of the 2008 NHL Draft was qualified by the Sabres but has yet to accept the offer.

All of the RFA's GM Tim Murray looked to keep either signed with the club (Marcus Foligno, Chad Ruwhedel, Tyler Ennis) or accepted their qualifying offer (Matt Hackett.)

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Amerks Don Stevens chats about building a winning organization

Reprinted with permission from

Don Stevens has been "The Voice of the Rochester Americans" for 28 years. He has seen the Amerks win eight division championships (none since 2005, though) three conference championships (1996, 1999, 2000) and two Calder Cups (1987, 1996) since his career began in 1986.

Yesterday the veteran broadcaster was kind enough to take a moment to chat about the future of the Buffalo Sabres and the Rochester Americans.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A case for D, Rasmus Ristolainen to start in Rochester

Reprinted with permission from

Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen is on a trajectory to hit the NHL this year in a top-four role.

At 6'4" 207 lbs., the 19 yr. old Finn already has NHL-size and he showed at the 2014 Sabres Development Camp that he's much farther along than any prospects not named Zemgus Girgensons or Mark Pysyk.

The 20 yr. old Girgensons, a forward, was with the Sabres all last season (70 games) while Pysyk has played in 63 games for Buffalo over the course of the last two seasons.

Pysyk is a defenseman and last season he showed that he was ready for full-time NHL duty. But the team took a cautious approach to his development and opted to send him back to Rochester during the Olympic break.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Tyler Ennis at 5 years? Fine by me.

Reprinted with permission from

The Buffalo Sabres announced that they have re-signed forward Tyler Ennis to a multi-year contract.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed but the NHL Network's Kevin Weekes was first to report yesterday that the deal was a five-year deal worth around $23M, which is just about right for Ennis.

Despite his diminutive (5'9", 169 lbs,) Ennis has been able to produce over his career.

In 267 NHL games he has 67 goals and 166 points and in his two seasons of 80-plus games he's hit the 20-goal mark both times. Last year he has a career high 21 goals.

Ennis has also appeared in 13 playoff games registering three goals, none bigger then his overtime winner at the Philadelphia Flyers in Game-5.

In overtime, Ennis got behind the Flyers defense and pounced on a juicy rebound left by goalie Michael Leighton and the Sabres were headed back to Buffalo with a 3-2 series lead.

A quick aside, recently inked defenseman Andrej Meszaros was on the ice for that goal against.

Former Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff accurately called Ennis "greazy" as the slick, speedy forward almost always seems to be able to slide out of tight situations.

Buffalo is on it's third coach in just over a year and present bench boss Ted Nolan seems to be tuned in to what Ennis has and what he brings to the table. After being shackled by the X's and O's of previous coach Ron Rolston, Nolan said of Ennis, "To … say, ‘You have to be at this place’ is limiting his ability. We kind of took the reigns off."

To which Ennis responded, “That’s the biggest thing. I don’t have to think,” said Ennis last year. “I’m a little more instinctive." It a mindset which plays to his strengths.

Another thing that's helped him along is the move to center.

Since he's come into the league Ennis has be bouncing around from wing to center. Ruff had said on many occasions that center is the best spot as Ennis has much more room to maneuver. Unfortunately there was no room down the middle on the scoring lines so Ruff had him on the wing. Nolan seems to agree as Ennis spent the majority of his time at center.

Stats geeks will use various numbers concerning the 24 yr. old veteran of four NHL seasons, pointing out Ennis' numerical shortcomings.

The stats may point to an average player, but anyone who's ever watched him knows that he's a highly skilled player with deft stick work who's battling through the inconsistencies of youth.

His team worst minus-25 rating last season accurately point out that the kid needs to become more defensively responsible, which is something Nolan pointed out as well.

But there is much more going on than just number.

Ennis has jam. And GM Tim Murray took notice.

Murray has been constantly pointing to the LA Kings as a team to look at as a model. He points out their sheer size and has backed that up by acquiring big players who play the game "heavy."

Yet, back in June when asked about Ennis and what he thought about re-signing him Murray said simply, "I like the player. I like his approach to the game. I like his compete-level. I like his speed. There's a lot of things I like about him."

Murray backed that up with a $4.6M cap hit over the next five seasons for Ennis. He will be the third highest paid player on the roster right now behind Tyler Myers and Matt Moulson.

Final thoughts on the scrimmage + the 3-stars

Reprinted with permission from

Expectations were high for the Prospect Scrimmage last night as a number of first and second round picks hit the ice.

The announced attendance for the scrimmage was 8725. That's nearly nine thousand fans going to watch hockey on the 15th day of July.

It says a lot about the fans and says a lot about the players that the organization has been accumulating over the course of the last three years.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Intriguing matchups for tonight's scrimmage

Reprinted with permission from

After watching the youngins hit the ice today, a few things popped out:

The White team is going to have a tough time against both Andrey Makarov and Cal Peterson. Both rarely got beat today during their drills, showing a little "Dominator-like" attitude--they did not want the puck getting behind them. At all.

Makarov can really flash the leather and he's really confident.

Last year's run to the playoffs and solid five-game series vs. Chicago got him rolling, and it looks as if he's ready to bust through another threshold this season. Nathan Lieuwen, who looks to be the Amerks starter better look out.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Sabres could use a placeholder or two on defense

Reprinted with permission from

As of right now, Sabres GM Tim Murray has four viable NHL defensemen on the roster--Tyler Myers, Josh Gorges, Andrej Meszaros and Mike Weber.

Add in Mark Pysyk, who's almost assured a spot and that brings the total to five leaving two spots open.

With prospects camp this week, 2013 first round draft picks Rasmus Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov will be looking to showcase their year-over-year development hoping to serve notice that they'll be ready October 9th.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Ken Campbell's giddiness and Cunneyworth's importance

Reprinted with permission from

Writer Ken Campbell of The Hockey News busted out his crystal ball today proclaiming that the Buffalo Sabres will win the Stanley Cup in the year 2020.

He figures that the Sabres will once again draft high in 2015 and then start their march to the Cup in earnest from there.

Campbell even goes full fantasy by giving ink to the perfect scenario (dream) which would have the NY Islanders finish 29th giving Buffalo the top two picks in the 2015 Draft. He asked one scout what it would mean if the Sabres were able to draft both Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, to which the scout replied, "Might as well hand them the Stanley Cup in five years if that happens."

That the Sabres have been stockpiling draft picks is a given.

Eight picks in 2012 including two firsts and a second. Eleven picks in 2013 including two firsts, three seconds and a third rounder (Nicholas Baptiste) who has already been signed to his entry level contract.

And at the draft in Philadelphia last month Buffalo had nine picks including the 2nd overall pick (Sam Reinhart) and three second rounders.

All this will be for naught if the team fails to develop their talent properly.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Sabres Development Camp Roster annouced.

Reprinted with permission from



Armia, Joel RW 6’3” 192 Pori, Finland
Bailey, Justin RW 6’3” 190 R Buffalo, New York
Baptiste, Nicholas RW 6’0” 196 R Ottawa, Ontario
Brown, Christopher C 6’0” 179 R   
Caggiula, Drake C/LW 5’9” 180 L Pickering, Ontario
Carrier, William LW 6’1” 194 L LaSalle, Quebec
Catenacci, Daniel C 5’9” 186 L Richmond Hill, Ontario
Compher, J.T. LW 5’10” 182 L Northbrook, Illinois
Cornel, Eric C 6’2” 186 R Peterborough, Ontario
Fasching, Hudson RW 6’2” 213 R Burnsville, Minnesota
Girgensons, Zemgus C 6’1” 190 L Riga, Latvia
Grigorenko, Mikhail C 6’3” 209 L Khabarovsk, Russia
Jacobs, Colin C 6’1” 204 R Coppell, Texas
Karabacek, Vaclav RW 6’0” 196 R Brandys Nad Labem, Czech Republic
Kea, Justin C 6’4” 210 L Woodville, Ontario
Lemieux, Brendan LW 6’0” 206 L Denver, Colorado
Malone, Sean C 5’11” 186 L Buffalo, New York
Martin, Jonathon RW 6’2” 212 R Winnipeg, Manitoba
Olofsson, Victor RW 5’11” 177 L Ornskoldsvik, Sweden
Pecararo, Liam LW 5’11” 164 L Canton, Massachusetts
Reinhart, Sam C 6’1” 185 R North Vancouver, British Columbia
Russell, Patrick RW 6’1” 200 R Birkerod, Denmark
Samuels-Thomas, Jordan LW 6’3” 195 L Hartford, Connecticut
Schaller, Tim C 6’2” 206 L Merrimack, New Hampshire
Sundher, Kevin C 6’0” 179 L Surrey, British Columbia
Willman, Maxwell C 6’0” 181 L Barnstable, Massachusetts


Austin, Brady D 6’3” 234 L Bobcaygeon, Ontario
Florentino, Anthony D 6’1” 226 R Boston, Massachusetts
Gauthier-Leduc, Jerome D 6’1” 192 R Quebec City, Quebec
Martin, Brycen D 6’2” 195 L Calgary, Alberta May 9, 1996
McCabe, Jake D 6’1” 210 L Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Prochno, Andrew D 5’11” 185 L Edina, Minnesota
Prophet, Brandon D 6’2” 202 L Brockville, Ontario
Pysyk, Mark D 6’1” 192 R Sherwood Park, Alberta
Ristolainen, Rasmus D 6’4” 219 R Turku, Finland
Zadorov, Nikita D 6’5” 220 L Moscow, Russia


Johansson, Jonas G 6’4” 198 L Gavle, Sweden
Lieuwen, Nathan G 6’5” 186 L Abbotsford, British Columbia
Makarov, Andrey G 6’1” 178 L Kazan, Russia
Petersen, Cal G 6’2” 175 R Waterloo, Iowa
Ullmark, Linus G 6’3” 195 L Lugnvik, Sweden

Friday, July 11, 2014

Buffalo and Winnipeg make deal

Reprinted with permission from

Not THE deal featuring the Jets' Evander Kane, but a simple swap of a low-level prospect for a low pick.

The Jets sent LW Jordan Samuels-Thomas to the Sabres for a conditional 2015 seventh round draft pick.

Samuels-Thomas is a good sized power forward who's strong on the puck and has shown a penchant for hitting the score sheet. In 76 games for the Quinnipiac Bobcats of the Eastern College Athletic Conference the 6'4" 195 lb. winger tallied 30 goals and 28 assists.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

An incredible haul for "the core" bolsters Sabres top-rated systerm

Reprinted with permission from

I'm not sure if t's a good thing or a bad thing that put the Buffalo Sabres farm system at the top of it's list. Especially when author Allan Muir said, "it wasn't easy to whittle down the top five clubs. Well, it wasn't easy to narrow down two through five. No. 1 was a no-brainer."

But we'll take it for what it is. SI is not alone in this regard as Hockey's Future has the Sabres up top and most hockey people marvel at the talent Buffalo has been stockpiling.

And Muir rightfully gives some credit to former GM Darcy Regier, mainly for drafting defensemen--Rasmus Ristolainen, Nikita Zadorov, Mark Pysyk and Jake McCabe.

AGM Kevin Devine who was Head Scout throughout those years, and his scouting staff, deserve most of the credit for their work. The highest pick amongst those four is Ristolainen at 8th overall. Zadorov was 16th, Pysyk 23rd and McCabe 44th.

Regier deserves a heap of credit, though, for dismantling his "core" and getting a huge return for them as a whole on the trade market.

Five core players--Paul Gaustad, Derek Roy, Jason Pomiville, Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller--were traded over the last two years. Add in some ancillary trades involving the initial return and it gets better.

Thoughts on Rick Jeanneret

Reprinted with permission from

This past week long-time Sabres play-by-play man Rick Jeanneret was diagnosed with throat cancer. The 71 yr. old Jeanneret will need about two months of radiation treatment and possible chemotherapy to treat the Stage III cancer.

Doctors say that there's about an 85% recovery rate.

Best wishes for a full and speedy recovery, RJ.,

The Hockey Hall of Famer is the longest tenured announcer in hockey, and was beginning to wind down his legendary career in the broadcast booth. Although Jeanneret says he has "every intention of coming back this season," treatment of the golf-ball sized malignant tumor may end up altering those plans.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Darcy Regier and his seeds scattered in the wind

Reprinted with permission from

Former Sabres GM Darcy Regier signing on with the Arizona Coyotes, and like seeds flying in the wind, he and his former core landed all over the place the last few days.

Regier signed a multi year deal to become Senior Vice President and Assistant GM in Arizona. He'll have his hands in every aspect of the hockey operations department.

'Yotes GM Don Maloney has known Regier for a long time and considers him "his closest friend on the management side of the NHL" according to Sarah McClellan of

Said Maloney of the hire, "He's done it all. If you think about the experience he's had over the last 17 years in Buffalo, everything from great success, Stanley Cup final, bankruptcy, coming out of that. There was a point at the end where there were limited resources. So there's nothing he hasn't seen or done or tried."

Brian Gionta the key to Josh Gorges trade

Reprinted with permission form

Former Montreal Canadiens captain Brian Gionta pretty much knew that the writing was on the wall with the Habs as the 11th hour (both literally and figuratively) was approaching Tuesday.

According to the Montreal Gazette, Gionta and his agent had been negotiating with Habs' GM Marc Bergevin throughout the weekend but just couldn't come together on term. The 35 yr. old Gionta, who has a wife and three children was looking for the security of a multi-year deal. Bergevin was offering one year.

"We were in constant contact with Bergevin over the last week and even a few times (Tuesday) morning trying to figure out where each could go. There are no hard feelings."

The Sabres offered Gionta a 3yr./$12.75M contract, which was just shy of the $5M/season he had been making previously.

Friday, July 4, 2014

2 hours, 15 minutes

Reprinted with permission from

When Sabres GM Tim Murray mentioned that he was surprised at how much interest there was in the Buffalo Sabres, it was hard to gauge just how much.

Talk is talk but putting signatures to a contract is another matter.

And when Murray mentioned that the interest in Buffalo came from legitimate NHL players, we weren't really sure just how legit.

For Buffalo Sabres fans, the start to free agent yesterday was a somewhat of a shocker.

In a good way.

Murray inked five legitimate NHL'ers who, he said, "wanted to come to here."

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Hitting the cap-floor may not be as difficult as many thought

Reprinted with permission from

With Sabres GM Tim Murray announcing that defenseman Christian Ehrhoff will be bought out, the team finds itself even farther away from the salary cap floor of roughly $51M than most expected.

Ehrhoff was the second compliance buyout used buy Buffalo this off season, the first was Ville Leino and his $4.5M cap hit.

According to, the Sabres have 14 players on the roster for next season with a total cap hit of roughly $31M.

That gap equals about $20M under the cap floor leaving some work to do for Murray and Co.

Of note:  F, Patrick Kaleta spent last season in Rochester. He has one more year remaining on his contract that pays $1.25M and, according to Murray, he'll be a Buffalo Sabre when training camp opens.

Free agency begins on Tuesday and money will be flowing once the bell rings at noon.

Tim Murray talks Reinhart, Ehrhoff and the future

Reprinted with permission from

Sabres GM Tim Murray hit WGR's Hockey Hotline this morning after a very busy weekend dealing with the draft and the decision to use an amnesty buyout on veteran defenseman Christian Ehrhoff.

Host Kevin Sylvester dove right in, asking about the Sam Reinhart pick and Murray reiterated that he was the consensus No. 1.

Murray also reiterated that he had been trying to trade Ehrhoff and that his discounted asking price was low-balled even more and that the d-man could've been traded.

But he balked.