The Eichel Era

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Kaleta

Patrick Kaleta has played only 26 games with Rochester. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
6

ROCHESTER – Patrick Kaleta smirked before pausing 10 seconds. The popular former Buffalo Sabres winger kept searching for the right word to describe his first full AHL season since 2006-07, his rookie year.

The oft-injured agitator, a veteran of 348 NHL games, never found one.

“Kind of hard to put a word on it,” Kaleta said Friday inside the Blue Cross War Memorial. “But with what I can kind of control playing-wise, I did what I needed to do. I’ll just leave …

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Ryan O'Reilly was named team MVP Friday. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – In his first season as coach, Dan Bylsma has experienced so much excitement surrounding the Sabres he wonders how crazy it would feel if his team becomes a contender again.

The Sabres, of course, will miss the playoffs for the fifth straight season. Still, to a rabid fan base yearning for postseason hockey, the progress the Sabres have made this season – they’ve improved 25 points with newcomers Jack Eichel, Ryan O’Reilly and others – offers strong hope for …

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Phil Varone scored his fifth NHL goal Saturday. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Just 18 days ago, when the Rochester Americans made their yearly visit to the First Niagara Center, Phil Varone watched as a healthy scratch. At that point, almost halfway through his fifth professional season, the forward appeared to be on the outs with the Sabres organization.

Despite playing 28 NHL games last year and earning a contract worth $200,000 in the minors, Varone’s poor play and the Amerks’ glut of veterans helped him get benched five times recently.

But Varone, …

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Phil Varone has been a healthy scratch this season. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

ROCHESTER – One of the oddest situations in the minors is unfolding with the AHL Americans, the Buffalo Sabres’ high-priced affiliate. The club has too many veterans, meaning some notable talent earning six figures has been forced to sit out to comply with league development rules.

The Amerks scratched Jerry D’Amigo and Patrick Kaleta, two forwards with 379 games of NHL experience, Friday. Forward Matt Ellis, an alternate captain less than a year removed from regular NHL duty, sat out for …

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Josh Gorges was hurt in his preseason debut. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Josh Gorges almost revealed what had sidelined him for a week of training camp.

Almost.

“Just a quick cleanup in my,” the Sabres defenseman said this morning before pausing briefly, “lower body.”

Yes, Gorges, who underwent microfracture surgery in February, has already undergone a minor procedure this season. He said he was injured nine days ago going into the corner against the Ottawa Senators.

While Gorges skated this morning and feels good, he won’t play in tonight’s preseason finale against the Columbus …

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Brendan Guhle will play his fourth preseason game tonight. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Brendan Guhle is no longer the impressive rookie getting a long look before going back to junior. Suddenly, the Sabres defense prospect, the 51st overall pick in June, has a real chance to be on the opening-night roster in nine days.

“Definitely there’s an opportunity,” said Guhle, who will play his fourth preseason game tonight. “There’s some injuries now, whatnot. I’m not looking too far ahead of myself.”

Four notable defensemen – Zach Bogosian, Josh Gorges, Jake McCabe and Chad …

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Rasmus Ristolainen (55) battles Arizona's Craig Cunningham last season. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen practiced today and should play in Tuesday’s preseason game against the Toronto Maple Leafs inside the First Niagara Center.

The Sabres suddenly need the Finn, who had been sidelined by an upper-body injury all of training camp, badly. Four defensemen are injured 10 days before opening night.

Zach Bogosian and Josh Gorges are both week-to-week with lower-body injuries, Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said inside HarborCenter. Bogosian was originally labeled day-to-day last week.

Jake McCabe, meanwhile, suffered an …

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Rasmus Ristolainen (55) battles the New York Rangers' Tanner Glass last season. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Rookie center Jack Eichel likely won’t play in the Sabres’ third preseason game Friday in Toronto against the Maple Leafs, coach Dan Bylsma said this morning.

Eichel, who had a goal and assist in his debut Monday, should play in Saturday’s road tilt against the Ottawa Senators. The Sabres will essentially use split squads for the next two games, Bylsma said.

Bylsma wants his regular goalies, Robin Lehner and Chad Johnson, to play two full preseason games. So far, both …

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Patrick Kaleta has some enemies around the league. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Dan Bylsma’s memories of winger Patrick Kaleta pestering his old Pittsburgh Penguins teams are too fresh. To the Sabres coach, the veteran agitator is still the enemy. Having him on his side is going to take some getting used to.

“I have a hard time not wanting to kill him,” Bylsma joked this afternoon inside the First Niagara Center. “But I’ve told him that. I let him know I’m trying to like you, I’m trying to put it behind …

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Patrick Kaleta wore his Sabres jersey inside out before he signed a contract Saturday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Instead of sporting a black NHLPA jersey or turning his Sabres sweater inside out again to conceal the crest, Patrick Kaleta dressed properly for his informal skate Monday, with the logo he has worn so proudly for nine seasons displayed on his chest.

A one-year AHL contract brought Kaleta, a free agent for 10 weeks, back to the organization he loves dearly on Saturday. The Sabres also gave the popular winger a professional tryout for NHL training camp, meaning …

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