Henri Jokiharju spent 2017-18 with the Portland Winterhawks. ©2019, Hickling Images

Henri Jokiharju believes joining Sabres ‘a great opportunity’

BUFFALO – In January, defenseman Henri Jokiharju earned a gold medal at the World Junior Championship on a Finnish squad that featured Sabres prospects Oskari Laaksonen and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen.

Jokiharju grew up with Laaksonen, another defenseman, in Tampere, and is one of his best friends. Jokiharju and Luukkonen, a youngster tabbed as Buffalo’s goalie of the future, played together with Team Finland at tournaments as teenagers.

After World Juniors, Jokiharju, 20, probably figured he ... Read the full article

Erik Portillo has some gaudy equipment. ©2019, Micheline Veluvolu, Rochester Americans

Sabres goalie prospect Erik Portillo stands out on ice

BUFFALO – You can’t miss Erik Portillo on the ice. In addition to being one of three Sabres prospects listed at 6-foot-6 on the roster, the Swede sports the gaudiest equipment of any of the six goalies in development camp.

European teams love plastering advertising everywhere, and Portillo’s Frölunda gear features plenty. Even the back of his pants have two McDonald’s logos.

But fans attending this morning’s three-on-three tournament, the conclusion of the four-day camp ... Read the full article

Jason Botterill thinks Rasmus Ristolainen can keep developing. ©2019, Hickling Images

Sabres GM Jason Botterill knows teams will ask about Rasmus Ristolainen

VANCOUVER – Buffalo Sabres general manager Jason Botterill knows plenty of teams would like to pry away a 6-foot-4 defenseman capable of gobbling up minutes and producing points like Rasmus Ristolainen.

“We understand there’s going to be inquiries about him,” Botterill said Friday morning, hours before the NHL Draft inside Rogers Arena. “We’re open as an organization to continuing to try to find ways to improve our team. But we realize and we’re very ... Read the full article

Jack Hughes is the presumptive first overall pick. ©2019, Hickling Images

Sabres will have strong options early at NHL Draft

VANCOUVER – The first two picks of tonight’s NHL Draft have been set for months. Unless something wild transpires inside Rogers Arena, the New Jersey Devils will select Jack Hughes first overall and the New York Rangers will grab Kaapo Kakko second.

The 2019 draft really begins with the third pick, when the Chicago Blackhawks go on the clock.

Drafts, of course, are always unpredictable. Youngsters pegged as surefire high picks inevitably fall.

But the ... Read the full article

Rasmus Dahlin (26) battles St. Louis' Jaden Schwartz as a rookie. ©2019, Hickling Images

Rasmus Dahlin enjoyed one of Sabres’ greatest rookie seasons ever

BUFFALO – Rookie seasons like the one Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin just enjoyed don’t come along very often.

At 18, the Swede quickly morphed into one of the Sabres’ most valuable players, taking over games with his dynamic puck-moving skills and producing offense at a historic rate.

Only one defenseman in NHL history – former Sabres star Phil Housley, who recorded 57 points as an 18-year-old in 1982-83 – compiled more points before his ... Read the full article

Jeff Skinner will be 34 when his contract ends. ©2019, Hickling Images

Rewards of Jeff Skinner’s long-term contract outweigh risks for Sabres

Jason Botterill sensed he would be asked a question about 40-goal scorer Jeff Skinner’s new long-term contract, so the Buffalo Sabres general manager decided to answer it himself.

“Probably one of the next questions is going to be about giving an eight-year contract to a 27-year-old,” Botterill said of Skinner’s $72 million deal on a conference call Saturday, a day after awarding the hefty contract. “But there’s always going to be risk sometimes in doing ... Read the full article

Ralph Krueger coached the Edmonton Oilers one season. ©2019, Hickling Images

World Cup coaching gig helped lead Ralph Krueger to Sabres

BUFFALO – Three years ago, in the midst of his tenure as chairman of Southampton F.C., an English Premier League team, new Sabres coach Ralph Krueger briefly returned to his roots.

Krueger, who hadn’t been behind a bench since the Edmonton Oilers fired him in 2013, took a job coaching Team Europe’s entry at the World Cup of Hockey.

While Krueger wanted to remain in his role in Southampton the short hockey gig reignited his ... Read the full article

Rasmus Dahlin (26) enjoyed a terrific rookie season. ©2019, Hickling Images

Sabres’ Rasmus Dahlin named finalist for Calder Trophy

Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin is among three finalists for the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s Rookie of the Year, the league announced today.

St. Louis Blues goalie Jordan Binnington and Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson were also named with Dahlin.

Dahlin, 19, enjoyed a terrific season, leading all rookie defensemen with 44 points. The Swede’s 35 assists ranked second among all first-year players. So did the 21 minutes, 9 seconds of ice time ... Read the full article

Jack Hughes could go first overall June 21. ©2019, Hickling Images

Devils thrilled to win NHL Draft Lottery; Sabres to pick seventh

TORONTO – After winning Tuesday’s NHL Draft Lottery, Ray Shero wouldn’t confirm the New Jersey Devils plan to select center Jack Hughes first overall.

Like most NHL general managers, he probably wants to respect the work his scouts have put in and leave a little suspense.

But the Devils, who own the first pick for the second time in three years, will almost certainly draft Hughes come June 21 in Vancouver.

Hughes, who has spent ... Read the full article

Jack Highes talks before tonight's NHL Draft Lottery. ©2019, Olean Times Herald

Devils win NHL Draft Lottery; Sabres get seventh pick

TORONTO – The New Jersey Devils won tonight’s NHL Draft Lottery and the right to select American center Jack Hughes first overall June 21 in Vancouver.

The Devils had the third-highest odds, 11.5 percent, for the top pick.

The Buffalo Sabres, who had the fifth-highest odds for the top selection, 8.5 percent, will pick seventh. The Sabres, of course, won last year’s lottery and drafted defenseman Rasmus Dahlin first overall.

Hughes, who has spent the ... Read the full article