Scott Wedgewood quietly enjoyed a terrific season in Rochester. ©2019, Micheline Veluvolu, Rochester Americans

Former Sabres, Amerks have landed new contracts all over

On a Rochester Americans team loaded with scorers and high-end AHL talent, goalie Scott Wedgewood’s exploits often got overshadowed.

But for much of the 2018-19 campaign, Wedgewood was the Amerks’ backbone, tending some of the league’s best goal.

After Christmas, Wedgewood won 16 of his first 21 appearances. Overall, he enjoyed a career season, compiling 28 victories and five shutouts in 48 games.

Still, it was evident Wedgewood, 26, would be moving on. The seven-year ... Read the full article

Henri Jokiharju spent 2017-18 with the Portland Winterhawks. ©2019, Hickling Images

Henri Jokiharju believes joining Sabres ‘a great opportunity’

BUFFALO – In January, defenseman Henri Jokiharju earned a gold medal at the World Junior Championship on a Finnish squad that featured Sabres prospects Oskari Laaksonen and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen.

Jokiharju grew up with Laaksonen, another defenseman, in Tampere, and is one of his best friends. Jokiharju and Luukkonen, a youngster tabbed as Buffalo’s goalie of the future, played together with Team Finland at tournaments as teenagers.

After World Juniors, Jokiharju, 20, probably figured he ... Read the full article

Andrew Hammond has earned the nickname "The Hamburglar." ©2019, Hickling Images

Season spent in minors special for Sabres goalie Andrew Hammond

BUFFALO – Last season, for the first time in his six-year career, new Sabres goalie Andrew Hammond didn’t play a single NHL game.

Even as an undrafted rookie in 2013-14, Hammond earned 35 minutes of big league action. In 2017-18, a tough campaign in which he bounced around and started just one regular-season contest, he won a playoff game for the Colorado Avalanche.

But last year, the affable Hammond, 31, spent the entire season with ... Read the full article

Curtis Lazar has spent most of his pro career in the NHL. ©2019, Hickling Images

Sabres sign Andrew Hammond, Curtis Lazar and others for depth

BUFFALO – As general manager Jason Botterill promised, the Sabres added a third goalie shortly after free agency opened Monday, signing veteran Andrew Hammond.

Hammond, whose one-year, one-way deal is worth $700,000, is best known for compiling a 20-1-2 record as a rookie with the Ottawa Senators in 2014-15 and earning “The Hamburglar” nickname.

Overall, Hammond, 31, has put together a 27-15-6 mark with a 2.31 goals-against average, a .923 save percentage and four shutouts ... Read the full article

Andrew Hammond enjoyed an amazing rookie season with Ottawa in 2014-15. ©2019, Hickling Images

Sabres add depth, sign Andrew Hammond, Curtis Lazar and others

BUFFALO – As general manager Jason Botterill promised, the Sabres added a third goalie today, signing veteran Andrew Hammond to a one-year, $700,000 contract.

Hammond, 31, is best known for compiling a 20-1-2 record as a rookie with the Ottawa Senators in 2014-15.

Overall, Hammond has put together a 27-15-6 mark with a 2.31 goals-against average, a .923 save percentage and four shutouts in 56 career NHL outings.

Hammond spent last season with the Iowa ... Read the full article

Matt Duchene will land a huge contract in free agency. ©2019, Hickling Images

Trades, not free agents, likely Sabres’ best option for improving roster

BUFFALO – The Sabres must examine every option to improve their weak roster, so, yes, general manager Jason Botterill acknowledged, they’ve discussed some of the top free agents on the market.

It’s no secret center Matt Duchene would fill a glaring need as the No. 2 pivot behind Jack Eichel.

For a few years, even as the Sabres kept struggling, their greatest strength was up the middle.

Most teams are lucky to have one top ... Read the full article

Erik Portillo has some gaudy equipment. ©2019, Micheline Veluvolu, Rochester Americans

Sabres goalie prospect Erik Portillo stands out on ice

BUFFALO – You can’t miss Erik Portillo on the ice. In addition to being one of three Sabres prospects listed at 6-foot-6 on the roster, the Swede sports the gaudiest equipment of any of the six goalies in development camp.

European teams love plastering advertising everywhere, and Portillo’s Frölunda gear features plenty. Even the back of his pants have two McDonald’s logos.

But fans attending this morning’s three-on-three tournament, the conclusion of the four-day camp ... Read the full article

Oskari Laaksonen won a gold medal in January. ©2019, Hickling Images

Oskari Laaksonen quietly one of Sabres’ best prospects

BUFFALO – Barely two years ago, unless you had spent time scouring the Finnish junior leagues for draft talent, the name Oskari Laaksonen wasn’t familiar to you.

NHL Central Scouting and other notable services didn’t even rank the Finnish defenseman. Googling his name would return some stats, that’s about it.

So when the Sabres grabbed Laaksonen 89th overall at the NHL Draft in 2017, going way off the board in the third round, the selection ... Read the full article

Jason Botterill thinks Rasmus Ristolainen can keep developing. ©2019, Hickling Images

Sabres GM Jason Botterill knows teams will ask about Rasmus Ristolainen

VANCOUVER – Buffalo Sabres general manager Jason Botterill knows plenty of teams would like to pry away a 6-foot-4 defenseman capable of gobbling up minutes and producing points like Rasmus Ristolainen.

“We understand there’s going to be inquiries about him,” Botterill said Friday morning, hours before the NHL Draft inside Rogers Arena. “We’re open as an organization to continuing to try to find ways to improve our team. But we realize and we’re very ... Read the full article

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen turned pro last month. ©2019, Hickling Images

Sabres goalie prospect Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen named OHL’s MVP

Top Buffalo Sabres goalie prospect Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen said his hip started bothering him at the World Junior Championship in late December and early January.

Playing so many games and practicing so often during the short tournament can be tough on players.

“That’s usually when you notice something isn’t right,” Luukkonen, 20, said on a conference call today after being named the Ontario Hockey League’s MVP.

Still, Luukkonen’s hip hardly affected his play.

The former second-round ... Read the full article