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Nikita Zadorov has played one game this season. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – With Sam Reinhart sent back to junior today, Sabres general manager Tim Murray can concentrate on another teenage prospect, defenseman Nikita Zadorov.

“I don’t want to start juggling five balls,” Murray said this morning inside the First Niagara Center.

The Sabres have essentially been stashing Zadorov on their roster until they find a place for him to play. The 19-year-old has played only one of the first 11 games.

Since Zadorov doesn’t have a release from his Russian team, the Sabres …

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Chris Stewart began his NHL career in 2008-09. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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TORONTO – Incredibly, Tuesday’s 4-0 loss to the Maple Leafs, Chris Stewart’s 392nd NHL game, was his first appearance in his hometown.

Toronto was the only city the 26-year-old Buffalo Sabres winger hadn’t played in.

How did that happen?

Stewart played in the Western Conference with Colorado and St. Louis before the Sabres acquired him in March.

“My first year I got healthy scratched here, and then the lockout year we didn’t play the East, and then the one time I got traded to …

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Sam Reinhart has played five NHL games. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – The Sabres will scratch top prospect Sam Reinhart for the first time tonight against the Boston Bruins.

It wasn’t hard to see this move coming. The slick center, the No. 2 pick in June, has been skating limited minutes on the fourth line. Reinhart played only seven minutes, nine seconds in Friday’s 1-0 loss to Florida.

The 18-year-old has zero goals, two shots and a minus-1 rating in his first five NHL games.

“Why do you sit out anybody?” Sabres coach …

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Gary Bettman speaks to the media Monday. ©2014, Margaret Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
4

BUFFALO – The Sabres officially have the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. They plan to bid on an NHL All-Star game. The team has already secured the league’s scouting combine for the next two years.

Hmmm, what other big event could be in the works?

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said owner Terry Pegula and his wife, Kim, mentioned Monday the Sabres would be interested in hosting another outdoor game.

The Sabres had the first Winter Classic in 2008 at Ralph Wilson Stadium, a venue …

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Michal Neuvirth had a rough preseason. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – The Sabres will make one lineup change for this afternoon’s tilt against the Anaheim Ducks, but it won’t be on defense.

Sabres coach Ted Nolan said goalie Michal Neuvirth, who endured an awful preseason, will make his first start this season. The Sabres also play Tuesday in Carolina, so Jhonas Enroth needs some rest.

“Neuvy’s been well-rested,” Nolan said inside the First Niagara Center. “He’s got some great work in the last few days. So he should be ready to …

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Cody Hodgson switched positions late last season. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – A year ago, the thought of Cody Hodgson playing anywhere but center would have seemed absurd.

The Sabres had few viable options down the middle. Tyler Ennis was still bouncing between two forward spots. Zemgus Girgensons was just beginning his NHL career as a winger.

Besides, Hodgson had just signed a six-year, $25.5 million contract extension to be the No. 1 pivot.

But late in the season, following an evaluation period, the team’s new regime mapped out the future. Ennis had …

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Cody McCormick missed today's practice. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Forward Cody McCormick missed today’s practice but could accompany the Sabres to Chicago for Saturday’s game against the Blackhawks.

Sabres coach Ted Nolan officially called McCormick’s absence a maintenance day. He skated 10 minutes, 46 seconds in Thursday’s 3-1 season-opening loss to Columbus.

Brian Flynn subbed on his line between Nick Deslauriers and Torrey Mitchell.

In other news, the Sabres switched two centers today, putting 18-year-old rookie Sam Reinhart back between Marcus Foligno and Chris Stewart. Zemgus Girgensons went between Cody …

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Nick Deslauriers was a defenseman until last season. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – The whole season, Sabres winger Nick Deslauriers said, “was pretty crazy.”

Barely a year ago, Deslauriers was a defenseman in Los Angeles’ organization. Three years into his career, he hadn’t played an NHL game. Then a forward shortage forced the Kings to make him a winger.

Suddenly, Deslauriers became a goal scorer up front, compiling 16 in 60 games for AHL Manchester.

That scoring prowess, coupled with his usual nasty edge, caught the Sabres’ attention. They acquired the relatively unknown prospect …

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Sam Reinhart said he's not too nervous about his NHL debut. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – On the outside, top Sabres prospect Sam Reinhart was a cool customer this morning. The 18-year-old calmly answered questions about his NHL debut in tonight’s season opener against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

“I’m pretty relaxed now,” Reinhart said inside the First Niagara Center. “It seems like a usual morning. But there’s no question it’s the biggest so far of my life, so I’m pretty excited.”

Sabres coach Ted Nolan knows Reinhart, the No. 2 pick in June, will be nervous …

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Mikhail Grigorenko skates this morning. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Two weeks into training camp, center Mikhail Grigorenko remains the Sabres’ biggest surprise. Two more impressive outings could earn the Russian prospect a roster spot.

“He’s been looking really good,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said this morning inside the First Niagara Center. “He’s strong on the puck. He’s been making some really good plays. So the biggest thing right now is keep seeing him do it.”

Grigorenko has two more preseason opportunities, tonight against the Washington Capitals and Friday in …

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