Jimmy Vesey Watch

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Ellis

Linus Ullmark struggled late in the season in Rochester. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

ROCHESTER – In the midst of a nine-game AHL winless stretch in which Buffalo Sabres prospect Linus Ullmark allowed 37 goals, the rookie goalie received a much-needed confidence boost.

When a bruised finger prevented goalie Chad Johnson from playing April 9, the Sabres recalled the struggling Swede from the Americans hours before their season finale against the New York Islanders.

In his first NHL start since Jan. 12, Ullmark helped the Sabres win 4-3 in overtime. The victory, Ullmark’s only win at …

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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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Andrey Makarov became a spare part late this season. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
4

ROCHESTER – It rarely happens. In fact, it might have been a first. Five days after posting a 30-save shutout, the Americans scratched a healthy Andrey Makarov for their next game, Friday’s 5-0 loss to Albany.

Top Buffalo Sabres goalie prospect Linus Ullmark started the home finale. Nathan Lieuwen, just back from his three-week NHL stint, backed up the Swede.

The loquacious Makarov, 22, watched from the stands wearing a suit.

Two years ago, Makarov was developing into the Buffalo Sabres’ best young …

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Justin Bailey just scored his 20th goal. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

ROCHESTER – Before Americans winger Justin Bailey started his first pro season, he set a significant goal for himself. The Williamsville native wanted to score 20 times, a tough number for anyone, let alone a rookie, to reach in this low-scoring era.

“I think it’s something that in the beginning I strived to accomplish,” Bailey said Thursday inside the Blue Cross War Memorial after the AHL club prepared for tonight’s home finale against the Albany Devils.

After his first month, Bailey, 20, …

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Phil Varone scored his fifth NHL goal Saturday. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Just 18 days ago, when the Rochester Americans made their yearly visit to the First Niagara Center, Phil Varone watched as a healthy scratch. At that point, almost halfway through his fifth professional season, the forward appeared to be on the outs with the Sabres organization.

Despite playing 28 NHL games last year and earning a contract worth $200,000 in the minors, Varone’s poor play and the Amerks’ glut of veterans helped him get benched five times recently.

But Varone, …

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Phil Varone has been a healthy scratch this season. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

ROCHESTER – One of the oddest situations in the minors is unfolding with the AHL Americans, the Buffalo Sabres’ high-priced affiliate. The club has too many veterans, meaning some notable talent earning six figures has been forced to sit out to comply with league development rules.

The Amerks scratched Jerry D’Amigo and Patrick Kaleta, two forwards with 379 games of NHL experience, Friday. Forward Matt Ellis, an alternate captain less than a year removed from regular NHL duty, sat out for …

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Jean Dupuy already has 10 points with Rochester. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
2

ROCHESTER – The biggest early-season surprise on the farm hasn’t been Justin Bailey, Nick Baptiste or Evan Rodrigues – three talented AHL rookie forwards many believe will play for the Buffalo Sabres someday.

While the prospects have contributed to the Americans at times, another first-year pro has outplayed them all. Remember this name: Jean Dupuy.

Who? Just 23 games into his career, Dupuy, an undrafted center from the Ontario Hockey League’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, looks like he could have a future …

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Josh Gorges was hurt in his preseason debut. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Josh Gorges almost revealed what had sidelined him for a week of training camp.

Almost.

“Just a quick cleanup in my,” the Sabres defenseman said this morning before pausing briefly, “lower body.”

Yes, Gorges, who underwent microfracture surgery in February, has already undergone a minor procedure this season. He said he was injured nine days ago going into the corner against the Ottawa Senators.

While Gorges skated this morning and feels good, he won’t play in tonight’s preseason finale against the Columbus …

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Patrick Kaleta has played only seven AHL games since 2008. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Patrick Kaleta will be back for his 10th season in the Sabres organization.

The Rochester Americans have signed the veteran winger to a one-year AHL contract, the team announced today. Kaleta, 29, will attend Sabres training camp on a professional tryout.

The Angola native has only played seven AHL games in the last seven seasons. That short stint early in 2013-14 ended when Kaleta, on an assignment to clean up his game, tore his ACL.

Kaleta’s reputation as oft-injured and reckless …

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Nick Baptiste scored 32 goals last season. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

BUFFALO – OK, it’s time for a quick development camp quiz, Sabres fans.

Name the only youngster in hockey who has already played alongside slick centers Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, the top two picks in the 2015 NHL Draft.

It’s Sabres prospect Nick Baptiste, the 69th overall selection in 2013.

“I’m a lucky guy,” Baptiste said Thursday. “They’re both so fantastically good.”

Now, name the most prolific career scorer among the 46 players in camp.

It’s Baptiste, a 19-year-old who scored 106 goals in …

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