Zemgus Girgensons has played four seasons with the Sabres. ©2017, Hickling Images, Olean Times Herald

Sabres re-sign Zemgus Girgensons to two-year contract

BUFFALO – The Sabres locked up their last restricted free agent today, signing forward Zemgus Girgensons to a two-year, $3.2 million contract.

Girgensons, 23, compiled seven goals and 16 points in a career-high 75 games last season, his fourth NHL campaign. The Latvian has 37 goals and 86 points in 277 career contests.... Read the full article

Nathan Beaulieu spent four years in Montreal. ©2017, Hickling Images, Olean Times Herald

Sabres re-sign Nathan Beaulieu to two-year contract

BUFFALO – The Sabres have re-signed defenseman Nathan Beaulieu to a two-year, $4.8 million contract, the team announced today.

Beaulieu, a restricted free agent, had an arbitration hearing scheduled for Friday.

With Beaulieu’s deal done, the Sabres only have one unsigned RFA, forward Zemgus Girgensons.

The Sabres acquired Beaulieu, 24, from the Montreal Canadiens on June 17 for a 2017 third-round pick.

Beaulieu has played 225 NHL games over four seasons, compiling seven goals, ... Read the full article

Evan Rodrigues (71) tries to grab the puck between Philadelphia's Nick Cousins and Valtteri Filppula on March 7. ©2017, Hickling Images, Olean Times Herald

Sabres re-sign Evan Rodrigues to two-year contract

BUFFALO – The Sabres have re-signed forward Evan Rodrigues to a two-year, $1.3 million contract, the team announced this afternoon.

With Rodrigues locked up, the Sabres have two unsigned restricted free agents: defenseman Nathan Beaulieu and forward Zemgus Girgensons.

Rodrigues, who turns 24 on Friday, enjoyed a breakout campaign as a center last season, playing regularly with the Sabres for the final two months. In 30 NHL games, the Boston University product compiled four goals ... Read the full article

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

Taylor Fedun played 27 NHL games last season. ©2017, Hickling Images, Olean Times Herald

Sabres sign Taylor Fedun to two-year contract

BUFFALO – The Sabres added defense depth today, re-signing Taylor Fedun to a two-year, two-way contract.

The 29-year-old could’ve become an unrestricted free agent Saturday.

Fedun split last season between the NHL and AHL, compiling career-high seven assists and seven points in 27 games, all career highs.

The Princeton product also had five goals and 23 points in 29 appearances with the Rochester Americans.

Fedun showcased some of his offensive prowess on the power play ... 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

Johan Larsson played 36 games this season. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Johan Larsson’s absence hurt Sabres

BUFFALO – When center Johan Larsson suffered two season-ending dislocations New Year’s Eve, the Sabres quietly experienced a critical blow to their playoff hopes.

While the absences of some higher-profile forwards – Jack Eichel and Kyle Okposo, for example – garnered more attention, the Sabres struggled to replace Larsson’s tenacious two-way game.

Without Larsson, who dislocated his elbow and wrist, the Sabres became a “different team,” said Marcus Foligno, the Swede’s regular winger on ... Read the full article

Jack Eichel was the Sabres' leading scorer this season. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Disappointing season leaves Sabres’ Jack Eichel seething

BUFFALO – Jack Eichel looked like he would’ve rather been anywhere else. The Sabres center was restless throughout his six-minute chat with the media Monday, mostly giving terse statements and looking around as he stood at a podium.

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 ... Read the full article

C.J. Smith played his final NCAA game last week. ©2017, UMass Lowell

Rookie C.J. Smith contributes in Sabres’ loss to Islanders

BUFFALO – The play will be seared in Sabres rookie C.J. Smith’s memory the rest of his life.

Halfway through Smith’s NHL debut, Sunday afternoon’s 4-2 loss to the New York Islanders, the speedy winger grabbed Evander Kane’s pass just outside the blue line and zoomed into the zone on a two-on-one.

Smith then dished a backhand saucer pass to Kane, who beat goalie Jaroslav Halak for his team-leading 27th goal. Just 10:08 into his ... Read the full article

Brian Gionta scored his 289th NHL goal Monday. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres reward captain Brian Gionta with win over Panthers

BUFFALO – In the days leading to Brian Gionta’s 1,000th NHL game, the Sabres were a little nervous, even “walking on eggshells,” coach Dan Bylsma said.

No one wanted to talk about their captain’s milestone.

“Didn’t want to jinx it, so to speak,” Bylsma said after Gionta fittingly scored the winning goal in Monday’s 4-2 win against the Florida Panthers.

But the Sabres loosened up, and following an emotional pregame ceremony honoring Gionta’s achievement, ... Read the full article