Johan Larssson was limited to 36 games last season. ©2017, Hickling Images, Olean Times Herald

Sabres sign Johan Larsson to two-year contract

BUFFALO – The Sabres locked up one of their restricted free agents today, signing center Johan Larsson to a two-year, $2.95 million contract.

Larsson, 24, compiled six goals and 11 points in 36 games before a dislocated elbow and wrist ended his season Dec. 31. Before getting hurt, Larsson usually pivoted the Sabres’ third line, showcasing a tenacious two-way game.... Read the full article

Davis Payne most recently spent time with Los Angeles. ©2017, Hickling Images, Olean Times Herald

Sabres hire Davis Payne as associate coach

BUFFALO – The Sabres have hired Davis Payne as the associate coach on new head coach Phil Housley’s staff, the team announced today.

In Payne, Housley, who has never been an NHL head coach, has a top assistant with NHL head coaching experience. Payne led the St. Louis Blues over three seasons from 2009 to 2011.

The 46-year-old most recently served as an assistant with the Los Angeles Kings for five seasons, winning a Stanley ... Read the full article

Chad Johnson spent last season in Calgary. ©2017, Hickling Images, Olean Times Herald

Sabres face challenges adding talent in free agency

BUFFALO – For a team fresh off a last-place finish, the Sabres have a high number of contracts, including a few bloated ones, in place for next season.

Counting restricted free agents expected to be back, the Sabres already have about 19 players who could be regulars in 2017-18. Veterans Zach Bogosian, Josh Gorges and Matt Moulson combine for more than $14 million of salary cap space.

Bad teams usually don’t approach the cap, but ... Read the full article

Taylor Fedun played 27 NHL games last season. ©2017, Hickling Images, Olean Times Herald

Sabres sign Taylor Fedun to two-year contract

BUFFALO – The Sabres added defense depth today, re-signing Taylor Fedun to a two-year, two-way contract.

The 29-year-old could’ve become an unrestricted free agent Saturday.

Fedun split last season between the NHL and AHL, compiling career-high seven assists and seven points in 27 games, all career highs.

The Princeton product also had five goals and 23 points in 29 appearances with the Rochester Americans.

Fedun showcased some of his offensive prowess on the power play ... Read the full article

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

Johan Larsson played 36 games this season. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Johan Larsson’s absence hurt Sabres

BUFFALO – When center Johan Larsson suffered two season-ending dislocations New Year’s Eve, the Sabres quietly experienced a critical blow to their playoff hopes.

While the absences of some higher-profile forwards – Jack Eichel and Kyle Okposo, for example – garnered more attention, the Sabres struggled to replace Larsson’s tenacious two-way game.

Without Larsson, who dislocated his elbow and wrist, the Sabres became a “different team,” said Marcus Foligno, the Swede’s regular winger on ... Read the full article

Evan Rodrigues grew up cheering for the Maple Leafs. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Toronto debut special for Sabres rookie Evan Rodrigues

TORONTO – Growing up in Etobicoke, about a 20-minute drive from the Air Canada Centre, Alexander Mogilny’s talents mesmerized Buffalo Sabres rookie Evan Rodrigues.

By the early 2000s, long after his dynamic 76-goal season with the Sabres in 1992-93, Mogilny was still an electrifying presence for some strong Maple Leafs teams.

“He was always trying something new,” Rodrigues said Saturday prior to the Sabres’ 3-1 win against the Leafs. “He always made some real ... Read the full article

Tonight will be Evan Rodrigues' fifth NHL game. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres recall Evan Rodrigues again; Cody Franson out 2-3 weeks

TORONTO – This afternoon, hours before his fifth NHL game, Buffalo Sabres rookie Evan Rodrigues couldn’t stop smiling.

“He’s always all smiles,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said inside the Air Canada Centre.

True, Rodrigues, 23, always seems to be grinning. But tonight’s tilt, which will be broadcast across Canada on “Hockey Night in Canada,” is extra special for Rodrigues, who grew up a Maple Leafs fan in Etobicoke, about 20 minutes from Toronto.

“It’s going ... Read the full article

Evander Kane broke four ribs opening night. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Evander Kane one of NHL’s hottest scorers

BUFFALO – Looking back, Sabres winger Evander Kane acknowledges that, yes, he probably rushed back to the lineup after breaking four ribs opening night.

Following an 11-game absence over three weeks, Kane returned and generated almost nothing. Seven weeks ago, he was one of the NHL’s biggest disappointments, still goalless in 12 appearances as the calendar turned to December.

But these days, Kane is scorching, having scored 12 times in the last 21 games ... Read the full article

Robin Lehner has played 27 games this season. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres goalie Robin Lehner out against Flyers; Update: Derek Grant on waivers

BUFFALO – The flu bug going around the Sabres dressing room has hit goalie Robin Lehner, so the Swede will miss tonight’s tilt against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Backup Anders Nilsson will sub, his third start in four games. Expect a goalie, most likely Linus Ullmark, to be recalled. Sabres coach Dan Bylsma wouldn’t confirm Ullmark was coming up, however.

Update: Ullmark has officially been recalled.

Bylsma said no other players are sick.

With ... Read the full article