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Mark Pysyk figured he was in the Sabres' plans. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Fresh off his first full NHL season, Mark Pysyk figured he was in the Sabres’ long-term plans. With the defenseman skating regular minutes in 55 games, the team improved 27 points, moving from last overall to 23rd.

“I wasn’t really banking on anything happening,” Pysyk told the Times Herald by phone Sunday.

Then Saturday morning, as Pysyk slept, his phone began lighting up with calls and texts. Eventually, his fiancé informed him the Sabres had just traded him to the …

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Rasmus Ristolainen has been a strong pick for the Sabres. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – To thrive in the modern NHL, teams must build through the draft. It’s that simple. The days of loading up with veteran players through free agency or trades are long gone. The league belongs to the 20-somethings now, and if teams draft poorly, they’re doomed.

How good are the Sabres at drafting? Judge for yourself below. Since drafts usually don’t start paying dividends for a few years, here’s a look at their selections from 2008-13. Eighteen of Buffalo’s 47 …

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Andrey Makarov became a spare part late this season. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
4

ROCHESTER – It rarely happens. In fact, it might have been a first. Five days after posting a 30-save shutout, the Americans scratched a healthy Andrey Makarov for their next game, Friday’s 5-0 loss to Albany.

Top Buffalo Sabres goalie prospect Linus Ullmark started the home finale. Nathan Lieuwen, just back from his three-week NHL stint, backed up the Swede.

The loquacious Makarov, 22, watched from the stands wearing a suit.

Two years ago, Makarov was developing into the Buffalo Sabres’ best young …

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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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Jason Kasdorf turned pro last month. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – To Sabres goalie Jason Kasdorf, who will make his NHL debut in tonight’s home finale against the Columbus Blue Jackets, experiencing some nerves before games feels good.

“I’m just kind of naturally that way,” an excited Kasdorf said this morning. “Even for college games, I’d get nervous for them. It’s just who I am.”

Kasdorf, who said he slept well last night, will likely feel some extra nerves tonight, when he becomes the fourth goalie to start for the Sabres …

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Robin Lehner played only 21 games this season. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Sabres goalie Robin Lehner has undergone successful season-ending surgery on his right ankle, the club announced this afternoon.

Lehner, 24, suffered a high ankle sprain opening night and recently jammed the tender ankle into the post twice in a week. The Swede hasn’t played since March 16.

Sabres coach Dan Bylsma recently said Lehner has been resting and rehabbing the ankle. Lehner was supposed to see the team doctors on Saturday, but the Sabres never offered an update until today.

After …

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Chad Johnson has won seven of his last eight starts. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

BUFFALO – Having traveled around the NHL in a secondary role for years, Sabres goalie Chad Johnson usually gets pegged as a career backup.

Johnson, after all, is just months away from turning 30 years old. Goalies usually grab the No. 1 job by their mid-20s. The Calgary native has played for five teams, including four in the last three years. He had never played more than 27 games in a season before this year.

But in just his third full campaign, …

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Robin Lehner kicks out a shot by Edmonton's Taylor Hall on March 1. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Robin Lehner could play again this season. The Sabres will allow their starting goalie to rest and rehab the ankle injury he just aggravated twice in a week, coach Dan Bylsma said.

Lehner suffered a high right ankle sprain opening night and has been dealing with it since returning in January.

Right now, shutting the Swede down isn’t in the team’s thought process, Bylsma said.

“(A) high ankle sprain is just one you deal with for a long time,” he said …

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Robin Lehner's ankle is still tender. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – When Sabres goalie Robin Lehner returned from a high ankle sprain in January, he knew the injury that shelved him more than three months would linger the rest of the season.

That right ankle, Lehner has recently learned, is still very tender.

The Swede has jammed it into the post twice in the last week, Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said, including in Wednesday’s 3-2 overtime loss to Montreal.

Lehner missed today’s practice inside HarborCenter with something Bylsma called “slightly more than …

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Jack Eichel (15) battles with Montreal's Alex Galchenyuk on Friday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

BUFFALO – Just like the old days. For stretches Friday, it felt like five or 10 years ago as the Sabres’ talent overwhelmed the NHL’s best club, the undefeated Montreal Canadiens.

After falling behind 2-0 early, the Sabres roared back, tying the entertaining tilt just over halfway through. The crowd inside the First Niagara Center sensed something special could happen.

Then, just as quickly as it started, the Sabres imploded for the first time this season, allowing five unanswered to close an …

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