Lawrence Pilut (20) signed a two-year, entry-level contract with the Sabres earlier this month. ©2018, HV71

Coach: Sabres’ Lawrence Pilut aggressive, talented defenseman

Buffalo Sabres newcomer Lawrence Pilut tries to approach everything – “On the ice, in the gym, wherever you are,” said Johan Lindbom, the defenseman’s former coach – with a gung-ho mentality.

That helped the Swede morph from an undrafted, unheralded youngster into one of Europe’s best defensemen, creating an opportunity to sign a two-year, entry-level NHL contract earlier this month.

That aggressive mindset might endear Pilut, 22, to his new coaches and fans in Buffalo ... Read the full article

Casey Nelson played 37 NHL games this season. ©2018, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres re-sign Casey Nelson to contract extension

BUFFALO – The Sabres have re-signed defenseman Casey Nelson, arguably their biggest surprise during a dreary 2017-18 season, to a two-year, $1.625 million contact extension, the team announced today.

He would’ve become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Nelson, 25, exceeded expectations after beginning the season buried on the depth chart. When the Sabres summoned him from the AHL in mid-January, he became the 13th defender to dress for them this season.

But Nelson ... Read the full article

Phil Housley needs a defenseman like Rasmus Dahlin. ©2018, Hickling Images

Sabres notes: Phil Housley likely has ace defenseman in Rasmus Dahlin

TORONTO – Over Phil Housley’s first season as coach, the Sabres rarely showcased the aggressive style the slick Hall of Fame defenseman wants to implement in Buffalo.

The NHL’s worst team didn’t possess the talent to play fast and move the puck from the blue line the way Nashville Predators did during Housley’s successful stint as an assistant coach.... Read the full article

Rasmus Ristolainen always plays big minutes. ©2018, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres’ Rasmus Ristolainen only knows losing at NHL level

BUFFALO – Rasmus Ristolainen normally offers little insight. Whether the defenseman’s talking about himself or the Sabres, his answers are short and, well, pretty bland.

But after the Sabres completed another miserable season earlier this month, Ristolainen, 23, opened up a bit and talked about how the constant losing he has experienced has taken its toll on him.... Read the full article

Zach Bogosian played only 18 games last season. ©2018, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres’ Zach Bogosian on injuries: ‘I’ve had a tough go’

BUFFALO – Since Zach Bogosian joined the Sabres on Feb. 11, 2015, the defenseman has missed a whopping 114 games – 42 percent of his team’s outings – to injuries.

This season, Bogosian’s 10th in the NHL, was supposed to be his breakout campaign. If anyone could unlock his potential, it would be new Sabres coach Phil Housley, right?

Well, Housley, a Hall of Fame defenseman, never really had an opportunity. Bogosian played only ... Read the full article

Jack Eichel spoke like a leader last week. ©2018, Hickling Images

Youngster Jack Eichel could be Sabres’ captain next season

BUFFALO – When the Sabres chose to rotate four alternates this season instead of awarding the prestigious ‘C’ to a single player, they likely started center Jack Eichel’s ascension to the captaincy.

The Sabres, of course, couldn’t name Eichel their captain last October. He was entering just his third NHL season and still prone to bouts of immaturity. He had never worn a letter, either.

So they let him sport an ‘A’ with veterans Zach ... Read the full article

Josh Gorges played only 34 games this season. ©2018, Hickling Images

Sabres’ Josh Gorges will think about future after decompressing

BUFFALO – Right now, Josh Gorges isn’t thinking about hockey. Following the roughest season of his 13-year career, the Sabres defenseman is decompressing by spending time with his family.

Gorges, 33, needs to get away for a bit. At the right time, the graying veteran, who will become an unrestricted free agent this summer, plans to evaluate his uncertain future.

“Kind of see what’s in store,” he said Monday as the Sabres cleaned out their ... Read the full article

Phil Housley won 25 games as a rookie coach. ©2018, Hickling Images

Sabres notes: GM Jason Botterill supports coach Phil Housley

BUFFALO – It’s unlikely legendary coaches Toe Blake or Scotty Bowman could’ve done much with the Sabres this season. A dearth of talent helped them finish 31st overall.

Still, following such a miserable campaign, the question had to be asked: will Phil Housley be general manager Jason Botterill’s coach again next season?

“One-hundred percent Phil Housley will be our coach next year,” Botterill said Wednesday inside KeyBank Center. “I have certainly enjoyed working with Phil ... Read the full article

Jason Botterill isn't used to losing. ©2018, Hickling Images

Awful season leaves Sabres GM Jason Botterill seething

BUFFALO – Jason Botterill is usually measured in his comments, keeping his emotions in check. But discussing the Sabres’ wretched 31st-place finish made the rookie general manager seethe.

The Sabres hired Botterill from Pittsburgh, where he won three Stanley Cups in 10 seasons and never missed the playoffs.

So a lost season in which the Sabres won 25 games and earned a meager 62 points is humbling for Botterill.... Read the full article

Despite a hot stretch during the winter, Chad Johnson ended this season with some weak statistics. ©2018, Hickling Images

Goalie Chad Johnson’s second stint with Sabres went poorly

BUFFALO – If Chad Johnson had known the Sabres would struggle so much this season, the goalie likely would’ve looked for work elsewhere.

“I wouldn’t have put my career in a situation like that after having a lot of success and doing well,” Johnson said Monday as the Sabres cleaned out their lockers and held exit interviews inside KeyBank Center.

Thanks to two strong seasons, Johnson, 31, enjoyed some options during free agency last summer. ... Read the full article