Dylan Cozens could be assigned to junior soon. ©2019, Micheline Veluvolu, Rochester Americans

Sabres prospect Dylan Cozens ready for NHL preseason debut

BUFFALO – Coach Ralph Krueger wants center Dylan Cozens to relax during tonight’s preseason opener. Throughout the recent Prospects Challenge rookie tournament, the Sabres’ top pick often tried to do to much.

“He was trying to be a different-maker every time on the ice,” Krueger said after the Sabres prepared for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The seventh overall pick knows he must calm down a little.

“I can’t be out there trying to dangle everyone and ... Read the full article

C.J. Smith played 11 NHL games last season. ©2019, Micheline Veluvolu, Rochester Americans

AHL star C.J. Smith intent on sticking with Sabres this season

BUFFALO – Only about 10 Sabres forwards have roster spots locked up, meaning in a training camp filled with competition, the best battles might be taking place up front.

Among the players fighting for the four or so remaining slots are journeymen (Jean-Sebastien Dea, for example), NHL veterans (Vladimir Sobotka) and prized prospects (Victor Olofsson).

Then there’s C.J. Smith, an older (he turns 25 on Dec. 1) and often overlooked ... Read the full article

Ralph Krueger wants Sabres hockey to be recognizable. ©2019, Hickling Images

Coach Ralph Krueger wants Sabres to establish early identity

BUFFALO – In just three or four weeks, coach Ralph Krueger would like the Sabres’ brand of hockey to be easily identifiable.

“You underline the fact that we’re playing like this, this is Sabres hockey,” Krueger said Friday following the first sessions of training camp inside KeyBank Center.

That, of course, is no easy task for a new coach, let alone one that inherited a laughingstock.

The Sabres haven’t possessed a positive identity in a ... Read the full article

Ralph Krueger takes an interest in his players. ©2019, Hickling Images

Coach Ralph Krueger makes strong early impression on Sabres

BUFFALO – Marcus Johansson hung up the phone and wanted to join the Sabres. Sure, signing with them would offer him a significant role as a top forward and an annual salary of $4.5 million.

But something else lured Johansson, 28, to the Sabres as a free agent: new coach Ralph Krueger.

“It was just my impression from speaking to (Krueger),” Johansson said this morning after training camp opened inside KeyBank Center. “So it was ... Read the full article

Sam Reinhart has never played an NHL playoff game. ©2019, Janet Schultz

Sabres’ Sam Reinhart excited to play for new coach Ralph Krueger

BUFFALO – Since the Sabres drafted high-scoring winger Sam Reinhart second overall in 2014, the team has employed four coaches, a ridiculous number.

Not surprisingly, Reinhart, who has played 331 regular-season NHL games, has never sniffed the postseason.

But last spring, Reinhart, 23, played some meaningful contests as Team Canada captured a silver medal at the World Championship in Slovakia. In 2016, fresh off his rookie season, he won a gold medal at the tournament.... Read the full article

Jimmy Vesey spent three seaons with the Rangers. ©2019, Hickling Images

Jimmy Vesey should provide much-needed offense for Sabres

BUFFALO – General manager Jason Botterill never thought much about winger Jimmy Vesey’s history with the Sabres.

Botterill needed to add more scoring. The fact that Vesey once rejected the Sabres to become a free agent and join the New York Rangers wasn’t going to deter him from addressing a major need.

So on Monday morning, shortly before free agency opened, Botterill sent a third-round pick in 2021 to the Rangers for Vesey.

Besides, it ... Read the full article

Matt Duchene will land a huge contract in free agency. ©2019, Hickling Images

Trades, not free agents, likely Sabres’ best option for improving roster

BUFFALO – The Sabres must examine every option to improve their weak roster, so, yes, general manager Jason Botterill acknowledged, they’ve discussed some of the top free agents on the market.

It’s no secret center Matt Duchene would fill a glaring need as the No. 2 pivot behind Jack Eichel.

For a few years, even as the Sabres kept struggling, their greatest strength was up the middle.

Most teams are lucky to have one top ... Read the full article

Sam Reinhart welcomed Dylan Cozens to the Sabres. ©2019, Hickling Images

Jason Botterill believes Sabres’ young talent terrific selling point

VANCOUVER – Shortly before the Sabres’ higher-ups traveled to the NHL Draft, Sam Reinhart told Jason Botterill he wanted join them during their stay in his hometown.

So one night, Reinhart met the general manager, coach Ralph Krueger and Terry and Kim Pegula for dinner.

Then on Friday, Reinhart, a winger the Sabres selected second overall in 2014, warmly greeted center Dylan Cozens after the team’s top pick left the draft floor inside Rogers Arena.... Read the full article

Aaron Huglen possesses some slick moves. ©2019, Hickling Images

Sabres believe they selected talented prospects at NHL Draft

VANCOUVER – Among the highlights of new Buffalo Sabres prospect Aaron Huglen on YouTube is a clip of what general manager Jason Botterill called “the Mike Legg goal.”

Last year at the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup, an under-18 tournament, Huglen pulled off one of hockey’s toughest moves, scoring a goal by quickly lifting the puck and wrapping it into the net.

Legg, Botterill’s teammate at Michigan, made the lacrosse-style goal famous in 1996.

“There’s a wow factor ... Read the full article

Jeff Skinner was all smiles Tuesday. ©2019, Hickling Images

Comfort helped convince Jeff Skinner to sign long-term contract with Sabres

BUFFALO – For eight seasons, Sabres winger Jeff Skinner only knew one organization. He grew up with the Carolina Hurricanes, joining them as a teenager and quickly becoming the face of the franchise. He felt a certain comfort there.

So his transition here could’ve been tough. Everything was new. Even the best players often need time to acclimate.

“It was a lot of change and there was a lot of adjustments, I think,” Skinner said ... Read the full article