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

Rasmus Asplund was a second-round pick in 2016. ©2017, Hickling Images, Olean Times Herald

Report: Sabres prospect Rasmus Asplund to stay in Sweden next season

Rasmus Asplund, perhaps the Buffalo Sabres’ top center prospect, will play in Sweden again next season.

The Sabres, who recently hired general manager Jason Botterill and still need to find a coach, want contract flexibility, Asplund, 19, told Värmlands Folkblad, a Swedish news service.

So the 33rd overall pick in 2016 will play a fourth pro season with Färjestad BK, a team in the Swedish Hockey League.... Read the full article

Dan Bylsma lasted two seasons as coach. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres start over again by firing GM Tim Murray, coach Dan Bylsma

BUFFALO – Now what? In a stunning move, general manager Tim Murray and coach Dan Bylsma are gone, victims of the Sabres’ last-place finish.

Tanking, gutting the roster and starting from scratch were supposed to transform the Sabres into perennial contenders.

Instead, they’ve remained a laughingstock. So on Thursday, 11 days after the Sabres completed a disappointing 78-point season in which they regressed, owner Terry Pegula fired Murray and Bylsma.

Obviously, missing the playoffs by ... Read the full article

Tim Murray was hired in January 2014. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres must find direction after firing GM Tim Murray, coach Dan Bylsma

BUFFALO – Now what? In a stunning move, general manager Tim Murray and coach Dan Bylsma are gone, victims of the Sabres’ last-place finish.

Tanking, gutting the roster and starting from scratch were supposed to transform the Sabres into perennial contenders.

Instead, they’ve remained a laughingstock. So on Thursday, 11 days after the Sabres completed a disappointing 78-point season in which they regressed, owner Terry Pegula fired Murray and Bylsma.

Obviously, missing the playoffs by ... Read the full article

A lower-back bruise limited Dmitry Kulikov all season. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres saw late glimpses of Dmitry Kulikov’s talents

BUFFALO – Three weeks ago, after months of waiting, Sabres general manager Tim Murray finally caught some glimpses of defenseman Dmitry Kulikov’s slick talents.

First, manning a point on the power play, Kulikov fed Jack Eichel a “perfect one-time pass right on the tape,” Murray said.

“Right where it should be, and it’s a goal,” he said Wednesday during his end-of-season news conference inside KeyBank Center.... Read the full article

Jack Eichel would've been a surefire Olympic pick for Team USA. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres players think NHL should stay in Olympics

BUFFALO – Having led Team USA at the Sochi Games in 2014, Dan Bylsma has what he called a “feeling about the Olympics” as both a coach and a fan.

“Most of my feelings are from a fan perspective,” the Sabres coach said today, a day after the NHL announced its players wouldn’t be participating in the 2018 Pyeongchang Games.

As a fan, Bylsma said he likes “it when the best players are playing in ... 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

Rasmus Ristolainen is happy he can play again. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres ready to welcome Rasmus Ristolainen back to lineup

BUFFALO – In 74 games this season, defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen has averaged just under 27 minutes of playing time, the Sabres’ highest total. All together, the workhorse has spent almost 2,000 minutes on the ice in his fourth NHL campaign.

So while a three-game suspension for hitting Pittsburgh’s Jake Guentzel disappointed Ristolainen, 22, the short break from the rigors of a long year was welcomed.

“I got a good rest,” Ristolainen said of his absence. ... Read the full article

Brian Gionta (left) receives a silver stick from Sabres general manager Tim Murray on Monday. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres captain Brian Gionta honored for 1,000th game

BUFFALO – Sabres winger Tyler Ennis said undersized NHL players – a “brotherhood,” he called them – share “an unspoken bond.”

Small players, of course, have the odds stacked against them. Only they can truly understand what they endured to make the league.

Fifteen or 20 years ago, it was even tougher for them to crack the NHL. That’s why Ennis, who’s listed at 5-foot-9, grew up idolizing diminutive stars, including 5-foot-7 Sabres captain Brian ... Read the full article

Dmitry Kulikov scores his second goal this season Saturday. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Dmitry Kulikov turns corner

BUFFALO – To Sabres coach Dan Bylsma, the worst appears to be behind defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, who has struggled throughout an injury-plagued season.

Fresh off a nine-game absence, Kulikov enjoyed his finest outing all season in Saturday’s 5-2 win over Toronto, scoring a power-play goal and feeding Jack Eichel for another score on the man advantage.

But before Kulikov returned from an upper-body injury, Bylsma could tell the Russian, who has battled a ... Read the full article