Chad Johnson spent last season in Calgary. ©2017, Hickling Images, Olean Times Herald

Sabres face challenges adding talent in free agency

BUFFALO – For a team fresh off a last-place finish, the Sabres have a high number of contracts, including a few bloated ones, in place for next season.

Counting restricted free agents expected to be back, the Sabres already have about 19 players who could be regulars in 2017-18. Veterans Zach Bogosian, Josh Gorges and Matt Moulson combine for more than $14 million of salary cap space.

Bad teams usually don’t approach the cap, but ... Read the full article

Nathan Beaulieu was a healthy scratch in April. ©2017, Hickling Images, Olean Times Herald

Nathan Beaulieu excited for fresh opportunity with Sabres

BUFFALO – Officially, defenseman Nathan Beaulieu’s six-year tenure in Montreal’s organization ended Saturday. But the Sabres’ newest acquisition knew almost two months ago he would be leaving the Canadiens.

On April 22, the Canadiens’ healthy scratch of Beaulieu for their final first-round playoff game against the New York Rangers signaled the end.

“That was kind of the cherry on top the situation was over with,” Beaulieu said this afternoon on a conference call. “I ... 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

The Sabres can negotiate a new contract with Jack Eichel on July 1. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres want to pursue contract extension for Jack Eichel

BUFFALO – When Tim Murray spoke to Jack Eichel on Wednesday, the general manager told his young star the Sabres would improve after a last-place finish.

“I made the promise to him that I would do the best that I could to make the team around him better and that we would be a longtime playoff team,” Murray said of his exit meeting with Eichel.

Eichel, 20, hasn’t handled the Sabres’ struggles well. The center ... Read the full article

Dan Bylmsa could have an ultimatum next season. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Dan Bylsma, players take blame for Sabres’ poor season

BUFFALO – Two seasons removed from a deep rebuild, the Sabres never expected to be a Stanley Cup contender, coach Dan Bylsma said.

Still, they never thought they would rank among the NHL’s bottom-feeders again.

Instead of building off their 27-point improvement in 2015-16, they imploded down the stretch this season, finishing last in the Atlantic Division and missing the playoffs – their big goal – by a whopping 17 points.... Read the full article

Jack Eichel wasn't in a talkative mood today. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Coach Dan Bylsma ‘going forward’ with Sabres after disappointing season

BUFFALO – Jack Eichel looked like he would’ve rather been anywhere else. The Sabres center was fidgety throughout his six-minute chat with the media this afternoon, mostly giving short answers.

Eichel, 20, isn’t handling the Sabres’ last-place finish in the Atlantic Division – they also ended 2016-17 an embarrassing 15th in the 16-team Eastern Conference – very well.

“It’s tough,” a seething Eichel said inside KeyBank Center as the Sabres held end-of-season meetings. “You’re not ... Read the full article

The Sabres want to give Alexander Nylander a look. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres prospect Alexander Nylander debuts against Maple Leafs, brother

BUFFALO – Why now? Why did the Sabres recall top forward prospect Alexander Nylander on Monday of all days, with the Toronto Maple Leafs and his brother, slick rookie William Nylander, in town?

On one hand, the night was unforgettable. NHL debuts are always special, but could you imagine doing it against your brother? On the other hand, the pressure on Alexander Nylander, 19, only increased with his high-scoring sibling in town with the scorching ... Read the full article

Alexander Nylander was recalled this morning. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Debut against brother will be special for Sabres’ Alexander Nylander

BUFFALO – Why now? Why did the Sabres recall top forward prospect Alexander Nylander today of all days, with the Toronto Maple Leafs and his brother, slick rookie William Nylander, in town?

On one hand, the night will be unforgettable. NHL debuts are always special, but could you imagine doing it against your brother? On the other hand, the pressure on Alexander Nylander, 19, will only increase.... Read the full article

Alexander Nylander has spent the entire season in the AHL. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres recall prospect Alexander Nylander from Amerks

BUFFALO – Top Sabres forward prospect Alexander Nylander, the eighth overall pick in 2016, could be recalled from the Rochester Americans and make his NHL debut in tonight’s tilt against his brother, William, and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Update: Nylander has been recalled.

Nylander, 19, was held out Sunday afternoon’s 2-1 road win against the Albany Devils. The Buffalo News reported the Sabres will summon the Swede from the AHL club.... Read the full article

C.J. Smith, shown here with the USHL's Chicago Steel, will make his NHL debut this afternoon. ©2017, MJB Images, Chicago Steel

Sabres rookie C.J. Smith ready for NHL debut

BUFFALO – Thursday, Sabres newcomer C.J. Smith’s first day in the NHL, was “extremely overwhelming,” the rookie winger said.

“I didn’t get to soak it in as much as I wanted to,” Smith said Saturday inside HarborCenter.

Smith signed his entry-level contract in the morning, practiced with his new teammates shortly after and had to take a test online – the finance major is still enrolled at UMass Lowell, where he spent three seasons – ... Read the full article