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June, 2012 Monthly archive
Ryan Miller slumped badly much of last season. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – OK, so where does Ryan Miller, the 2009-10 Vezina Trophy winner and Team USA Olympic hero, rank among NHL goalies right now?

Consider the following: his goals-against average the last two seasons has ranked 22nd and 22nd; his save percentage has ranked 18th and 19th; last year, he failed to backstop his team to the postseason for the third time in five seasons.

Based on the recent past, Miller’s probably an average netminder.

Is he better than, say, St. Louis journeyman …

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Tyler Myers became a healthy scratch for the first time last season. ©2012, Janet Schultz, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – On Sunday, Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers receives his enormous $10 million signing bonus, the first payment in the seven-year, $38.5 million extension he signed last year.

The money’s another symbol the youngster, who could’ve made a bundle more later on if he had re-upped for a shorter deal, ranks as one of the NHL’s great young defenders.

Two years ago, in fact, Myers, fresh off a dynamic rookie season, was arguably the best.

Not today, however.

Los Angeles’ Drew Doughty, picked second …

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©2012
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Sabres play-by-play man Rick Jeanneret will call all 82 games next season, the club announced Wednesday.

The local legend, who signed a new multi-year contract earlier this month, had been working a reduced number of games for several years. He called 57 last year.

Jeanneret, the longest-tenured NHL broadcaster at 41 years, will be honored with the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Foster Hewitt Memorial Award this fall.

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Thomas Vanek last hit the 40-goal mark in 2008-09. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Five years after the Sabres matched the astonishing seven-year, $50 million offer sheet Edmonton awarded winger Thomas Vanek, the star expected to score 40 goals annually and flirt with 50 has averaged just 32 a season.

At times, Vanek still utterly dominates the game like few players can these days. See the beginning of 2008-09, the end of 2009-10 and the start of his past one season for proof.

For long stretches, however, the Austrian’s barely an above-average scorer, even …

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©2012
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – If all goes well, then come October, Mikhail Grigorenko, the prized center selected 12th overall Friday at the NHL Entry Draft in Pittsburgh, will be the first 18-year-old playing regularly for the Sabres since Pierre Turgeon in 1987.

The Sabres, who introduced Grigorenko on Monday inside the First Niagara Center, plan to give the Russian every chance to make the big club instead of going back to the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts.

General manager Darcy Regier hopes to start working on …

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Kevin Devine spends most of his time working on the NHL Entry Draft. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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PITTSBURGH – More on the Buffalo Sabres’ final five picks Saturday during the 2012 NHL Entry Draft:

Justin Kea, center, Sagina Spirit, Ontario Hockey League, third round, 73rd overall

Despite only three goals and 11 points in 65 games to go with his 76 penalty minutes, amateur scouting director Kevin Devine believes Kea has strong upside.

“If you look at his stats, they’re not very good,” he said. “Halfway through the season they fired their coach. They got a coach there, Greg Gilbert, …

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The Sabres moved up to take Zemgus Girgensons 14th overall. ©2012, Jim Naprstek, Dubuque Fighting Saints
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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PITTSBURGH – A blockbuster trade for established talent never materialized. Instead, the Buffalo Sabres dished two high choices to Calgary early, grabbed their second coveted center during a wild first round and kept on picking.

They selected six players in the final six rounds Saturday, the NHL Entry Draft’s second and final day – three centers, two defensemen and one goalie – and left the Consol Energy feeling good about their eight total choices.

The Sabres grabbed Jake McCabe, a University of …

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The Sabres were thrilled slick Russian Mikhail Grigorenko fell to them at No. 12. ©2012, Quebec Remparts
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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PITTSBURGH – The defensemen kept going and going at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft; seven straight after the Montreal Canadiens selected center Alex Galchenyuk third overall, in fact.

For the Buffalo Sabres, a team targeting a talented center, the planets aligned Friday night inside the Consol Energy Center.

They got two.

Incredibly, picking 12th, the Sabres grabbed a Russian, Mikhail Grigorenko, a slick playmaking center from the QMJHL’s Quebec Ramparts ranked No. 3 among North American prospects by NHL Central Scouting.

Some had the …

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The Sabres selected Tyler Myers 12th overall in 2008, the last time they had two first-round picks. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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PITTSBURGH – A year and zero playoff games later, Darcy Regier still has the keys, full reign to aggressively pursue elite talent and make the Buffalo Sabres a contender again.

If you believe the general manager, then he’s in the mix and will be active on the Consol Energy Center floor this weekend during the NHL Entry Draft, which starts tonight when the Sabres pick twice – 12th and 21st, compliments of the Paul Gaustad trade with Nashville – in the …

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©2012
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

PITTSBURGH – The Buffalo Sabres’ 2012-13 schedule reflects a big philosophy change. The Friday night home games, a staple for years, have dwindled to just four. As a result, the constant strain of playing back-to-back games has lessened.

The team only plays on consecutive days a franchise-low 11 times next season. They led the NHL in back-to-back sets the last two, playing 22 and 21.

“(Owner) Terry Pegula tasked us with getting the best possible schedule for our players, regardless of whether …

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