The Eichel Era

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Ellis

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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Jack Eichel's excited for his pro "debut." ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Since arriving in Buffalo last week, Sabres prospect Jack Eichel has been “doing the media tour and doing a million things.” The 18-year-old center just wants to play a hockey game, something he hasn’t done in months.

Eichel will get his wish tonight, when the Sabres host what is quickly becoming a huge summer event, the annual development camp scrimmage at 7 p.m. inside the First Niagara Center.

The Sabres have already sold more than 10,000 tickets at $10 each. …

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Matt Ellis joined the Sabres in 2008. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

BUFFALO – Matt Ellis will be back for an eighth season with the Sabres organization.

The Rochester Americans signed the popular forward to a one-year AHL contract today. The respected 33-year-old, a veteran of 356 NHL games, spent parts of two seasons as Amerks captain before getting recalled. He could wear the ‘C’ in 2015-16.

Ellis has split the last three seasons between Buffalo and Rochester, playing 95 games in each league. He started the last two seasons in the AHL before …

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Andrej Sekera might get snatched up early in free agency. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – For a rebuilding team fresh off two consecutive 30th-place finishes, the Sabres’ shopping list entering free agency, which opens today at noon, is relatively small. A weekend of wheeling and dealing at the NHL Draft pretty much set the roster for the upcoming season.

The Sabres have two goalies, four forward lines and almost a full defense corps. Not bad for a team that finished 2014-15 using a patchwork lineup filled with AHL players.

General manager Tim Murray’s main target …

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Sabres general manager Tim Murray is offering Mikhail Grigorenko a two-way contract. ©2015, Margaret Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
9

BUFFALO – General manager Tim Murray knows 21-year-old center Mikhail Grigorenko is frustrated the Sabres are offering a two-way contract. The restricted free agent dislikes the deal so much he’s reportedly fielding offers from the KHL, a league in his native Russia.

“I hear rumors,” Murray said Thursday during a news conference inside the First Niagara Center to discuss next week’s NHL Draft.

Clearly, the Sabres and Grigorenko’s camp have vastly different opinions of the youngster, the No. 12 pick in 2012.

“We …

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