C.J. Smith played 11 NHL games last season. ©2019, Micheline Veluvolu, Rochester Americans

AHL star C.J. Smith intent on sticking with Sabres this season

BUFFALO – Only about 10 Sabres forwards have roster spots locked up, meaning in a training camp filled with competition, the best battles might be taking place up front.

Among the players fighting for the four or so remaining slots are journeymen (Jean-Sebastien Dea, for example), NHL veterans (Vladimir Sobotka) and prized prospects (Victor Olofsson).

Then there’s C.J. Smith, an older (he turns 25 on Dec. 1) and often overlooked ... Read the full article

Linus Ullmark finished poorly last season after a fast start. ©2019, Hickling Images

Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark upbeat following tough season

BUFFALO – Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark figured he was better equipped to handle the grind of a seven-month, 82-game NHL season.

Ullmark, after all, thrived while carrying the load in his final two AHL seasons, playing 99 games before graduating to the NHL.

“But it’s a totally different thing, totally different beast to tame when you get up here in ‘The Show,’” Ullmark said Friday following the opening sessions of training camp inside KeyBank Center.... Read the full article

Ralph Krueger wants Sabres hockey to be recognizable. ©2019, Hickling Images

Coach Ralph Krueger wants Sabres to establish early identity

BUFFALO – In just three or four weeks, coach Ralph Krueger would like the Sabres’ brand of hockey to be easily identifiable.

“You underline the fact that we’re playing like this, this is Sabres hockey,” Krueger said Friday following the first sessions of training camp inside KeyBank Center.

That, of course, is no easy task for a new coach, let alone one that inherited a laughingstock.

The Sabres haven’t possessed a positive identity in a ... Read the full article

Rasmus Ristolainen has endured six losing seasons wth the Sabres. ©2019, Hickling Images

Rasmus Ristolainen upbeat for new season, ‘ready to go’ with Sabres

BUFFALO – Rasmus Ristolainen paused for a few seconds to collect his thoughts. All summer long, it felt like the Sabres could trade the defenseman at any moment.

But there was Ristolainen on Thursday, sporting his blue No. 55 Sabres hoody and a backwards hat fielding questions from the media inside KeyBank Center.

Is the Finn surprised he’s still in Buffalo?

“I’ve been here six years and I’ve seen this business,” Ristolainen said after veterans ... Read the full article

Ralph Krueger takes an interest in his players. ©2019, Hickling Images

Coach Ralph Krueger makes strong early impression on Sabres

BUFFALO – Marcus Johansson hung up the phone and wanted to join the Sabres. Sure, signing with them would offer him a significant role as a top forward and an annual salary of $4.5 million.

But something else lured Johansson, 28, to the Sabres as a free agent: new coach Ralph Krueger.

“It was just my impression from speaking to (Krueger),” Johansson said this morning after training camp opened inside KeyBank Center. “So it was ... Read the full article

Rasmus Ristolainen talks this morning. ©2019, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Rasmus Ristolainen mum on if he requested trade

BUFFALO – Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen walked into the media room this morning inside KeyBank Center and couldn’t help himself.

“You’ve been waiting for this, eh?” Ristolainen said to a room full of reporters and cameras.

Just about all of Buffalo has been waiting to hear from Ristolainen, whose future here has been in question all summer.

“I’m happy to be back,” Ristolainen said after veterans reported today for their training camp physicals.... Read the full article

Rasmus Ristolainen sounds like a guy who wants a change of scenery. ©2019, Janet Schultz

Sabres’ Rasmus Ristolainen back in Buffalo, but for how long?

BUFFALO – Rasmus Ristolainen rarely says much. On a good day, if you see the Sabres defenseman, he might answer a question by offering a couple vanilla sentences.

So if Ristolainen talks to the media today after training camp opens, we probably won’t learn much about his conversations with the Sabres over the summer or how he spent the last five months.

Does Ristolainen, 24, feel like he needs a change of scenery? Did he ... Read the full article

Ralph Krueger (center) is flanked by Sabres owner Terry Pegula (right) and vice president of media relations Chris Bandura on June 5. ©2019, Hickling Images

Sabres’ Ralph Krueger expects to begin training camp with Rasmus Ristolainen

BUFFALO – In the lockout-shortened season Ralph Krueger spent as an NHL coach in 2012-13, teams held abbreviated training camps in January.

So the Sabres coach has never ran a regular big league camp. Almost seven years ago, his Edmonton Oilers quickly convened for a camp that lasted less than a week.

Still, having spent most of his coaching career in international hockey, Krueger, 60, has ran plenty of camps.

“I have a big national ... Read the full article

Sam Reinhart has never played an NHL playoff game. ©2019, Janet Schultz

Sabres’ Sam Reinhart excited to play for new coach Ralph Krueger

BUFFALO – Since the Sabres drafted high-scoring winger Sam Reinhart second overall in 2014, the team has employed four coaches, a ridiculous number.

Not surprisingly, Reinhart, who has played 331 regular-season NHL games, has never sniffed the postseason.

But last spring, Reinhart, 23, played some meaningful contests as Team Canada captured a silver medal at the World Championship in Slovakia. In 2016, fresh off his rookie season, he won a gold medal at the tournament.... Read the full article

The Sabres hired Ralph Krueger in May. ©2019, Hickling Images

Sabres to open training camp Sept. 12

BUFFALO – The Sabres will open their main training camp Sept. 12, when veterans report for physicals and testing, then hold their first on-ice sessions a day later at KeyBank Center, the team announced today.

The Sabres’ first camp under new coach Ralph Krueger will be a little different than past years. Most of camp will be held at KeyBank Center instead of Harborcenter, the team’s practice facility. Only three sessions – Sept. 15, 16 ... Read the full article