Casey Nelson played seven NHL games last season. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Justin Falk, Casey Nelson battling for Sabres’ last defense spot

BUFFALO – The blue line has been set for three months. When Dmitry Kulikov arrived via a trade at the NHL Draft, the Sabres had their sixth and final piece, a physical, puck-moving defenseman capable of playing top-pair minutes.

So barring an injury, a Rasmus Ristolainen contract problem or a very impressive training camp from a depth defender, the Sabres have their opening-night lineup: Kulikov, Ristolainen, Zach Bogosian, Cody Franson, Josh Gorges and ... Read the full article

Cody Franson suffered a season-ending injury Feb. 19. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres need more defense depth

How remarkably healthy did the Buffalo blue line stay in 2015-16? The Sabres recalled a defenseman as an injury replacement just once.

Think about that. Over the course of the grueling six-month, 82-game season, the Sabres only dipped into the AHL on March 18, when they summoned Chad Ruhwedel to sub for Carlo Colaiacovo prior to their 72nd contest. Ruhwedel played that night and was quickly returned to the Rochester Americans.

The Sabres almost ... Read the full article

Tim Murray won't let himself worry about Jimmy Vesey. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres GM Tim Murray knows Jimmy Vesey could sign elsewhere

BUFFALO – The constant talk about whether former Harvard University star Jimmy Vesey will sign with the Sabres amazes general manager Tim Murray.

No one, of course, has more invested in Vesey than Murray, who traded a third-round pick for the Hobey Baker Award winner’s rights on June 20, a deal he has called a “gamble.”

If Vesey signs, Murray might have a first- or second-line winger to skate beside Jack Eichel or Ryan O’Reilly. ... Read the full article

Kyle Okposo will sign a lucrative contract. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres won’t find elite talent in free agency

BUFFALO – The pickings are so slim in NHL free agency this year, perhaps the most coveted player available, Kyle Okposo, has never cracked the 30-goal or 70-point marks.

Okposo, of course, is a talented winger. The Minnesota native is coming off a 22-goal, 64-point season with the New York Islanders. He has 139 goals and 369 points in 529 NHL games over nine years, including three 20-goal seasons and two 60-point campaigns.

Yes, Okposo ... Read the full article

Carlo Colaiacovo enjoys mentoring young players. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Carlo Colaiacovo hopes to return

BUFFALO – Carlo Colaiacovo’s goal when he signed a one-year contract in July was pretty straightforward. Following three seasons of sporadic duty, the veteran defenseman wanted to become an everyday player again with the Sabres.

“When I signed in Buffalo, I believed that opportunity was there for me, and obviously things change,” Colaiacovo said last week.

Things changed a lot on the blue line in a hurry.

The Sabres signed Cody Franson days before training ... Read the full article

Ryan O'Reilly was named team MVP Friday. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres coach Dan Bylsma feels fans’ passion everywhere

BUFFALO – In his first season as coach, Dan Bylsma has experienced so much excitement surrounding the Sabres he wonders how crazy it would feel if his team becomes a contender again.

The Sabres, of course, will miss the playoffs for the fifth straight season. Still, to a rabid fan base yearning for postseason hockey, the progress the Sabres have made this season – they’ve improved 25 points with newcomers Jack Eichel, Ryan O’Reilly and ... Read the full article

Jason Kasdorf turned pro last month. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres goalie Jason Kasdorf ready for NHL debut

BUFFALO – To Sabres goalie Jason Kasdorf, who will make his NHL debut in tonight’s home finale against the Columbus Blue Jackets, experiencing some nerves before games feels good.

“I’m just kind of naturally that way,” an excited Kasdorf said this morning. “Even for college games, I’d get nervous for them. It’s just who I am.”

Kasdorf, who said he slept well last night, will likely feel some extra nerves tonight, when he becomes ... Read the full article

Hudson Fasching made an appearance at the First Niagara Center in 2012 at the All-American Prospects Game. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres rookies Hudson Fasching, Casey Nelson set to debut

BUFFALO – Somewhere in Minnesota earlier today, the Fasching family was probably anxiously waiting for Sabres rookie Hudson Fasching to phone home with some special news.

“I think they’re kind of ready if they get the call,” Fasching said this afternoon inside the First Niagara Center.

Minutes after Fasching spoke, following a chat with Sabres coach Dan Bylsma, he likely called his parents to tell them he would be making his NHL debut Saturday afternoon ... Read the full article

Hudson Fasching was excited to practice Thursday. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres rookies Hudson Fasching, Casey Nelson ready for NHL careers

BUFFALO – Hudson Fasching, of course, was supposed to crack the NHL. The Sabres rookie developed rapidly at the University of Minnesota, becoming one of the NCAA’s best power forwards by his junior season.

A year ago, Fasching, 20, decided he would turn pro following his third year.

But defenseman Casey Nelson, who debuted at practice with Fasching on Thursday, experienced a tougher route to the Sabres. The undrafted Nelson, 23, is ... Read the full article

Hudson Fasching just ended his college career. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Hudson Fasching, Casey Nelson excited to join Sabres

BUFFALO – The Sabres rookies took different paths from college to the NHL.

Winger Hudson Fasching decided last year he would turn pro following his junior season. Meanwhile, defenseman Casey Nelson wasn’t sure a month ago if he would leave school after three seasons.

Of course, Fasching, 20, was supposed to here. The power forward’s stock steadily rose at the University of Minnesota after Los Angeles drafted him in 2013.

The undrafted Nelson, who called ... Read the full article