Los Angeles' Jeff Carter pursues Rasmus Ristolainen last season. ©2019, Hickling Images

Rasmus Ristolainen might be Sabres’ biggest trade chip

VANCOUVER – Rasmus Ristolainen has certainly showcased flashes of brilliance as the Buffalo Sabres’ workhorse defenseman.

Remember when he torched superstar Brent Burns in November to extend the Sabres’ winning streak to 10 games? What about the time he took over a game in 2015-16 against the Calgary Flames, scoring a hat trick in just a 12-minute span?

Three years ago, the Finn appeared to be taking his first steps into stardom. The Sabres, ... Read the full article

Don Granato has an extensive coaching resume. ©2019, Hickling Images

Sabres hire Don Granato, Mike Bales as assistant coaches

BUFFALO – The Sabres have hired Don Granato and Mike Bales as assistant coaches on new head coach Ralph Krueger’s staff, the team announced this morning.

The Sabres also officially announced Krueger will retain assistant Steve Smith, a former NHL defenseman he had on his staff with the Edmonton Oilers.

Granato, 51, has coached at all levels – junior, college, pro and NHL – over his 26-year career. He spent the last two seasons ... Read the full article

Mike Bales won two Stanley Cups in Pittsburgh. ©2019, Hickling Images

Reports: Sabres to hire Mike Bales as goalie coach, retain Steve Smith

The Buffalo Sabres will hire Mike Bales as their new goalie coach and retain assistant coach Steve Smith, according to multiple reports.

Bales, 47, resigned as goalie coach of the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday. The Buffalo News, The Athletic and Sportsnet all reported Bales is bound for Buffalo.

Former Sabres coach Phil Housley hired Smith, a three-time Stanley Cup winner as a player, to run his defense last year. Ralph Krueger, Housley’s replacement, ... Read the full article

Jeff Skinner was all smiles Tuesday. ©2019, Hickling Images

Comfort helped convince Jeff Skinner to sign long-term contract with Sabres

BUFFALO – For eight seasons, Sabres winger Jeff Skinner only knew one organization. He grew up with the Carolina Hurricanes, joining them as a teenager and quickly becoming the face of the franchise. He felt a certain comfort there.

So his transition here could’ve been tough. Everything was new. Even the best players often need time to acclimate.

“It was a lot of change and there was a lot of adjustments, I think,” Skinner said ... Read the full article

Jeff Skinner will be 34 when his contract ends. ©2019, Hickling Images

Rewards of Jeff Skinner’s long-term contract outweigh risks for Sabres

Jason Botterill sensed he would be asked a question about 40-goal scorer Jeff Skinner’s new long-term contract, so the Buffalo Sabres general manager decided to answer it himself.

“Probably one of the next questions is going to be about giving an eight-year contract to a 27-year-old,” Botterill said of Skinner’s $72 million deal on a conference call Saturday, a day after awarding the hefty contract. “But there’s always going to be risk sometimes in doing ... Read the full article

Ralph Krueger talks Wednesday. ©2019, Hickling Images

Sabres coach Ralph Krueger arrives in Buffalo ready for new challenge

BUFFALO – Ralph Krueger spent the last five years running a soccer team in England, so on Wednesday, his first full day in his new city as Sabres coach, he was having NHL games loaded on a laptop.

“To look a little bit deeper,” Krueger, who was hired May 15, said during a news conference in the KeyBank Center atrium.

In addition to getting up to speed on the Sabres, Krueger, 59, must examine how ... Read the full article

Jeff Skinner scored 40 goals in his first season in Buffalo. ©2019, Hickling Images

Ralph Krueger believes Jeff Skinner wants to stay with Sabres

BUFFALO – Shortly after being named coach last month, Ralph Krueger called winger Jeff Skinner, the 40-goal scorer the Sabres are trying to re-sign to a long-term contract.

Krueger said after a long and productive conversation – “I could feel his unbelievable passion for the game,” he said – he hung up the phone believing Skinner, 27, wants to return to the Sabres.

“His tone in his voice when it came to the past ... Read the full article

Chris Taylor has coached Rochester two seasons. ©2019, Micheline Veluvolu, Rochester Americans

Coach Chris Taylor will likely stay put with Amerks

BUFFALO – When the Sabres began their coaching search last month, general manager Jason Botterill and his assistants, Steve Greeley and Randy Sexton, talked a lot about pursuing experienced NHL candidates.

“But we also wanted to make sure we opened it up,” Botterill said Wednesday inside KeyBank Center after the Sabres announced Ralph Krueger as their new coach. “Through this process it wasn’t always out in the media, but we looked at a lot of ... Read the full article

Ralph Krueger coached the Edmonton Oilers one season. ©2019, Hickling Images

World Cup coaching gig helped lead Ralph Krueger to Sabres

BUFFALO – Three years ago, in the midst of his tenure as chairman of Southampton F.C., an English Premier League team, new Sabres coach Ralph Krueger briefly returned to his roots.

Krueger, who hadn’t been behind a bench since the Edmonton Oilers fired him in 2013, took a job coaching Team Europe’s entry at the World Cup of Hockey.

While Krueger wanted to remain in his role in Southampton, the short hockey gig reignited his ... Read the full article

Jeff Skinner scored a career-high 40 goals in 2018-19. ©2019, Hickling Images

Sabres notes: GM Jason Botterill knows Jeff Skinner interested to see coach

BUFFALO – Sabres general manager Jason Botterill understands 40-goal winger Jeff Skinner needed to know something important before making a huge decision.

“If you’re going to sign a long-term contract with an organization, you kind of want to know who the head coach is,” Botterill said Wednesday after announcing Ralph Krueger as the 19th head coach in franchise history.

Skinner, who turns 27 on Thursday, can become an unrestricted free agent July 1. Until ... Read the full article