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Catenacci

Jason Kasdorf made his NHL debut April 8. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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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
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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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Mark Pysyk figured he was in the Sabres' plans. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Fresh off his first full NHL season, Mark Pysyk figured he was in the Sabres’ long-term plans. With the defenseman skating regular minutes in 55 games, the team improved 27 points, moving from last overall to 23rd.

“I wasn’t really banking on anything happening,” Pysyk told the Times Herald by phone Sunday.

Then Saturday morning, as Pysyk slept, his phone began lighting up with calls and texts. Eventually, his fiancé informed him the Sabres had just traded him to the …

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Rasmus Ristolainen has been a strong pick for the Sabres. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – To thrive in the modern NHL, teams must build through the draft. It’s that simple. The days of loading up with veteran players through free agency or trades are long gone. The league belongs to the 20-somethings now, and if teams draft poorly, they’re doomed.

How good are the Sabres at drafting? Judge for yourself below. Since drafts usually don’t start paying dividends for a few years, here’s a look at their selections from 2008-13. Eighteen of Buffalo’s 47 …

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Matt Ellis will have options if he retires. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

ROCHESTER – Physically, Matt Ellis said, he hasn’t felt this good in four or five years. At 34 years old, having just finished his 14th pro season, the popular former Buffalo Sabres forward believes he could keep playing.

“I definitely feel like I got lots left in the tank,” Ellis said Thursday inside the Blue Cross War Memorial.

Still, Ellis understands he could be nearing retirement. This season, his first out of the NHL in 10 years, he played only 56 times …

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Nick Deslauriers beats Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson on Friday. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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TORONTO – As a third- or fourth-liner known more for his fists than his soft hands, gritty Buffalo Sabres winger Nick Deslauriers has endured some long goal droughts.

While the likable Deslauriers scored his career-high sixth goal in Friday’s 3-1 home win against the Ottawa Senators, he has only 12 in his 160-game career. After scoring three times in the first 11 games this season, the former defenseman went 41 appearances before finally scoring again March 3.

“I told him he needs …

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Jack Eichel (15) will miss his first NHL game. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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TORONTO – The flu will force Buffalo Sabres rookie Jack Eichel to miss his first NHL game tonight, coach Dan Bylsma said.

To replace the center against the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight, the Sabres have recalled rookie winger Dan Catenacci from the Rochester Americans. Cal O’Reilly will move to center, Bylsma said.

Eichel, 19, finished Friday’s 3-1 home win against the Ottawa Senators, recording as assist, his 49th point.

“It didn’t come on until early morning this morning,” Bylsma said inside the Air …

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Sabres goalie Chad Johnson stops Ottawa's Bobby Ryan on Friday. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – In the span of six months, Sabres goalie Chad Johnson has been a backup, a starter, part of a platoon with rookie Linus Ullmark and a backup again.

For this weekend at least, with Robin Lehner sidelined, Johnson is the Sabres’ top netminder again.

Johnson started Friday’s 3-1 win over the Ottawa Senators inside the First Niagara Center, his fifth straight victory, and will get another nod tonight in Toronto against the Maple Leafs, Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said.

Lehner could …

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Robin Lehner believes smaller equipment might help goalies. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – At 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, Robin Lehner’s the NHL’s biggest goalie.

Sure, a few are taller than the Sabres’ new starter. Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop, for example, is 6-foot-7 but weighs 31 fewer pounds than his former AHL teammate.

Lehner, of course, looks huge in his net. But so do a lot of other goalies much smaller than the Swede.

“There’s guys out there that weigh 160 pounds (who are) not that tall who look bigger than me, and … I’m …

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Ryan O'Reilly (90) stickhandles between Detroit's Alexey Marchenko (47) and Henrik Zetterberg (40) on Jan. 2. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Since a broken right foot has sidelined Ryan O’Reilly the last 11 games, Sabres coach Dan Bylsma wants to ease his No. 1 center and most versatile asset back into the lineup tonight after a 26-day absence.

So O’Reilly, who plays more than any NHL forward at 21 minutes, 51 seconds a game, might see a little less action against the Montreal Canadiens inside the First Niagara Center.

“I think you do ease him back in, without a question,” Sabres …

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