George McPhee can stock Vegas with strong talent. ©2017, Hickling Images, Olean Times Herald

NHL Expansion Draft has evolved; Sabres could lose William Carrier

BUFFALO – Seventeen years ago, as president and general manager of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Doug MacLean spent almost a year preparing for the NHL Expansion Draft.

“Hundreds and hundreds of hours went into it,” MacLean, now an analyst for Sportsnet, told the Times Herald by phone Saturday.... Read the full article

William Carrier was one of the Sabres' biggest surprises last season. ©2017, Hickling Images, Olean Times Herald

Sabres leave big salaries unprotected for expansion draft

BUFFALO – As expected, the Sabres have left underachieving, high-priced veterans Zach Bogosian and Matt Moulson unprotected for Wednesday’s NHL Expansion Draft.

But they also left winger William Carrier, perhaps the Sabres’ biggest surprise as a rookie last season, unprotected for the Vegas Golden Knights, according to a list the league released this morning. Could that move be a side deal general manager Jason Botterill worked out with counterpart George McPhee to lay off ... Read the full article

Nolan Patrick participated in fitness testing at the NHL Scouting Combine today. ©2017, Hickling Images, Olean Times Herald

Top prospect Nolan Patrick grew up rooting for Sabres

BUFFALO – Growing up in Winnipeg, top prospect Nolan Patrick’s allegiance changed whenever his uncle, former NHL player and coach James Patrick, switched teams. So for most of his childhood, he rooted for the Sabres.

“Buffalo was my favorite team growing up,” Patrick said this afternoon following fitness testing at the NHL Scouting Combine inside HarborCenter. “I watched them a lot. It was mostly my favorite team just because he was coaching there, so I ... Read the full article

Mike Sullivan worked in player development and coached in the AHL before being promoted to Pittsburgh. ©2017, Hickling Images, Olean Times Herald

Sabres GM Jason Botterill wants coach with Mike Sullivan’s traits

BUFFALO – When Sabres general manager Jason Botterill interviewed Mike Sullivan for Pittsburgh’s AHL coaching vacancy two years ago, thoughts of the candidate’s unsuccessful run as an assistant in Vancouver were fresh in his mind.

“I had an impression,” Botterill said Thursday of Sullivan, who spent a tumultuous season with the Canucks in 2013-14 beside embattled coach John Tortorella.

But Sullivan changed that impression. The former Boston Bruins coach had just spent a year as ... Read the full article

Tim Murray was fired Thursday. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres need to find new GM soon

BUFFALO – Given the speed at which the offseason moves, the Sabres must find a new general manager soon, perhaps in the next month, to replace Tim Murray, who was fired with coach Dan Bylsma on Thursday.

Of course, given owner Terry Pegula’s track record, would the Sabres even hire a GM first?

Remember, Pegula hired Pat LaFontaine as the team’s president of hockey operations in November 2013. LaFontaine lasted less than four months ... Read the full article

Paul Byron began his career with the Sabres. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Paul Byron, Sabres’ Tyler Ennis share special memories of early days

BUFFALO – Paul Byron and Tyler Ennis laughed and sounded nostalgic remembering their days growing up together as rookie roommates in the Sabres organization.

Byron, according to Ennis, is “not very good at video games.”

“A liar,” said a smiling Byron called Ennis on Wednesday.

These days, Byron and Ennis are happy NHL veterans.... Read the full article

Tyler Ennis had a 23-game goal drought. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Tyler Ennis feeling healthy again

BUFFALO – It’s the surest sign Tyler Ennis has regained some of his slick form after undergoing early-season groin surgery and struggling for months. The speedy Sabres winger has started showcasing his old burst.

Just over halfway into Wednesday’s 2-1 win, a rebound squirted into the slot between two Montreal Canadiens defensemen. Ennis read the play perfectly, zooming in and beating them to the loose puck.

A split-second later, Ennis scored his first goal since ... Read the full article

Kyle Okposo is a popular teammate. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Reports: Kyle Okposo hospitalized in intensive care; Sabres beat Canadiens

BUFFALO – Sabres winger Kyle Okposo is hospitalized and in intensive care at Buffalo General Hospital, according to two reports.

Okposo, 28, is in the Neuro Surgical ICU, according to WGR. The Buffalo News also confirmed the report.

Prior to Wednesday’s 2-1 win against the Montreal Canadiens, Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said he was “very concerned” about Okposo, who has undergone testing and been out of the lineup since last week.... Read the full article

Brian Gionta (left) receives a silver stick from Sabres general manager Tim Murray on Monday. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres captain Brian Gionta honored for 1,000th game

BUFFALO – Sabres winger Tyler Ennis said undersized NHL players – a “brotherhood,” he called them – share “an unspoken bond.”

Small players, of course, have the odds stacked against them. Only they can truly understand what they endured to make the league.

Fifteen or 20 years ago, it was even tougher for them to crack the NHL. That’s why Ennis, who’s listed at 5-foot-9, grew up idolizing diminutive stars, including 5-foot-7 Sabres captain Brian ... Read the full article

Tyler Ennis loved watching Brian Gionta growing up. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres captain Brian Gionta an inspiration to Tyler Ennis

BUFFALO – Sabres winger Tyler Ennis said undersized NHL players – a “brotherhood,” he called them – share “an unspoken bond.”

Small players, of course, have the odds stacked against them. Only they can truly understand what they endured to make the league.

Fifteen or 20 years ago, it was even tougher for them to crack the NHL. That’s why Ennis, who’s listed at 5-foot-9, grew up idolizing diminutive stars, including 5-foot-7 Sabres captain Brian ... Read the full article