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Catenacci

Rasmus Ristolainen received a contract similar defensemen have signed. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Just hours before he had to set his roster Tuesday afternoon, Sabres coach Dan Bylsma called the 23-man squad a “little bit of a moving puzzle.”

In addition to a slew of injuries, Bylsma had one missing piece – the biggest, perhaps – No. 1 defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, a holdout two days before the season opener against Montreal.

Bylsma was tight-lipped about the restricted free agent then, only saying he was “hopeful” something would get done. Of course, Bylsma possibly …

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Rasmus Ristolainen still doesn't have a contract. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

BUFFALO – Just hours before his roster must be finalized, Sabres coach Dan Bylsma called it a “moving puzzle.”

Four regulars are either injured or just returning from ailments. His best defenseman, Rasmus Ristolainen, has left the team because he doesn’t have a contract. He was practicing as what his agent called a “goodwill” gesture.

Update: Ristolainen has signed a six-year, $32.4 million contract.

Bylsma must make some decisions before 5 p.m., when he must have his 23-man roster set for Thursday’s opener …

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Ryan O'Reilly played just part of one preseason game. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Sabres center Ryan O’Reilly is day-to-day after leaving Wednesday’s 3-2 preseason loss early as a precaution because of a spasm in his back and midsection, coach Dan Bylsma said.

O’Reilly, who was playing his first preseason game following the World Cup of Hockey, didn’t practice this afternoon inside KeyBank Center. He’s out of Friday’s exhibition finale in Ottawa, Bylsma said.

The Sabres, of course, are dealing with a slew of injuries exactly one week before the season opener.

Some other updates …

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Ryan O'Reilly plays big minutes for the Sabres. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Dan Bylsma has a problem. It’s a good one, mind you. Most coaches would love to have it.

In Sabres center Ryan O’Reilly, he possesses one of the NHL’s most talented and versatile forwards, one he can throw on the ice in every conceivable situation.

A season ago, O’Reilly’s first with the Sabres, he skated 21 minutes, 44 seconds a game, most among NHL forwards. He deserved every second, quickly becoming the team’s heart and soul and MVP.

That breakout campaign …

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Goalie John Muse played in Friday's 8-1 loss to Toronto. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Forward prospects Justin Bailey and Evan Rodrigues were among 17 players the Sabres assigned to the Rochester Americans this morning.

Also sent to the AHL club: William Carrier, Dan Catenacci, Eric Cornel, Jean Dupuy, Vaclav Karabacek, Justin Kea, and Cole Schneider; defensemen Brady Austin and Brycen Martin; goalie Jason Kasdorf.

Catenacci and Schneider, a Williamsville native, must clear waivers.

Five players have also been released from their tryouts and will report to the Amerks: forwards Matthew Lane and Daniel Muzito-Bagenda; defensemen …

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William Nylander (left) interviews his brother, Alexander, before the NHL Draft in June. ©2016, Margaret Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Growing up, Sabres prospect Alexander Nylander and his brother, William, a Toronto Maple Leafs youngster, were ultra-competitive in whatever game or sport they played.

So, despite being very close, the Nylanders would occasionally get a little emotional.

“We fought a lot, there was a lot when we were playing knee hockey, shinny,” Alexander Nylander said this morning inside KeyBank Center. “We always came clean after it and were best buddies again.”

Don’t expect to see the Nylanders pummel each other tonight …

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Robin Lehner plans to play the entire game tonight. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Six months removed from ankle surgery, fiery Sabres goalie Robin Lehner, as you might expect, is excited to play his first game preseason game tonight.

“I don’t know if the excitement I sense is because it’s a new year and where he’s at physically and being ready to go or playing the Ottawa Senators and (he) doesn’t want (Mike) Hoffman to score tonight,” coach Dan Bylsma said after the Sabres prepared for the preseason home opener inside KeyBank Center.

Lehner, …

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Cole Schneider (10) chases Columbus' Seth Jones in his NHL debut April 8. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – In the first days of the season, Cole Schneider, an undrafted winger with two games of NHL experience, not an established veteran or hotshot prospect, has emerged as the biggest standout in Sabres training camp.

After scoring a hat trick in the first scrimmage and a one-goal, two-point performance the next day, Schneider, 26, could already have an inside track to earn a roster spot as the 12th or 13th forward.

“He’s taking the opportunity right now to show he …

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Jason Kasdorf made his NHL debut April 8. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – The Sabres have re-signed goalie Jason Kasdorf, who made his NHL debut late last season, to a two-year, two-way contract, the team announced Sunday.

The 6-foot-3, 172-pound Kasdorf, 24, will likely begin next season with the AHL Rochester Americans.

Kasdorf, an afterthought in the blockbuster 2015 Evander Kane with the Jets, joined the Sabres in March after finishing his NCAA career with R.P.I. He played his only pro game April 8, making 26 saves in a 4-1 home loss to …

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Tom Ward has an impressive high school resume. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – The Sabres have hired Tom Ward, a top prep coach who groomed Sidney Crosby, Kyle Okposo and other future NHL players at Shattuck-St. Mary’s, as the final assistant on Dan Bylsma’s staff, the team announced this afternoon.

Ward, 52, spent the last 18 seasons as the head coach of the boys prep team at the Minnesota high school, winning nine USA Hockey National Championships and finishing as runner-up twice.

Shattuck is known for producing more NHL talent than any high …

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