On with the summer

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McCabe

Jack Eichel was held scoreless Friday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – The 17,115 Sabres fans who chose a hockey scrimmage – or, more appropriately, an opportunity to watch center Jack Eichel – over spending a beautiful Friday night in July outdoors probably don’t regret their decision.

For $10, they watched their newest star up close, saw center Sam Reinhart score twice and were treated to a five-on-five development camp exhibition with some unusual intensity.

“That was probably one of the most fun games of hockey I think I’ve ever played in …

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Zemgus Girgensons could have a long career with the Sabres. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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SUNRISE, Fla. – How good have the Buffalo Sabres drafted in recent years? Judge for yourself below.

Since most drafts don’t start paying dividends for a few years, here’s a look at the Sabres’ selections from 2007-12 and some notable hits and misses. Sixteen of Buffalo’s 45 draft choices over that time – 36 percent – have made the NHL.

The Sabres have eight picks at this weekend’s NHL Draft, including the No. 2 selection, which they will use to select mega-prospect …

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Matt Ellis (37) skates Monday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – To Sabres center Matt Ellis, the AHL’s experiment with three-on-three overtime this season has created “a really exciting brand” of hockey.

The extra space allows players to freewheel all over the ice and have fun. Systems become an afterthought.

“The speed and the skill really shines through, the amount of open ice,” Ellis, who played 38 games in Rochester this season, said Monday prior to the Sabres’ 4-3 shootout loss to the Washington Capitals. “It’s incredible to see it, and …

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Mikhail Grigorenko has spent most of this season in Rochester. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – For once, center Mikhail Grigorenko can relax a little bit. Eighteen games are left in the Sabres’ trying season. The NHL’s weakest lineup needs reinforcements.

Sabres coach Ted Nolan wouldn’t commit to Grigorenko staying for the rest of the year. But the Russian should get a long look after getting recalled from Rochester again Thursday.

This could be Grigorenko’s best opportunity since his rookie season two years ago.

Grigorenko, the 12th pick in 2012, was excited when he spotted a white …

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Alex Biega made his NHL debut Feb. 16. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Alex Biega had finally cracked an NHL roster. For 10 days in December, the defenseman earned a fatter paycheck and practiced with the Vancouver Canucks.

But, oddly enough, the 26-year-old former Sabres prospect never played. He got tantalizingly close to game action once, dressing for the pregame warm-up.

“It wasn’t frustrating, but I guess I was antsy just to get in,” Biega said by phone Wednesday after the Canucks landed in Buffalo. “I wanted to get that opportunity to play. …

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Jake McCabe played twice this week. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – The Sabres sent defenseman Jake McCabe to the Rochester Americans this afternoon, meaning Nikita Zadorov will likely return from a two-game benching Thursday.

McCabe played twice during his first NHL recall this season. The Amerks host Syracuse tonight.

Sabres coach Ted Nolan sat Zadorov because the 19-year-old was late to a team meeting Sunday morning. The Sabres host the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday.

Update: The NHL has fined Sabres goalie Michal Neuvirth $2,000 for diving/embellishment in Sunday’s 2-1 shootout loss to …

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Nikita Zadorov will likely sit out tonight. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Each time Nikita Zadorov violates a team rule, it’s important to remember the Sabres defenseman wasn’t drafted by Tim Murray. The gruff general manager isn’t tied to the Russian.

Sure, Zadorov, the 16th pick in 2013, is an elite prospect. At just 19 years old, he’s already a big contributor to the Sabres. Zadorov recently compiled seven points in seven games. The Sabres scored only 16 times in that stretch. He could be a franchise cornerstone very soon.

But Murray’s …

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Nikita Zadorov will likely sit another game. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – For the second time in less than a month, Sabres defenseman Nikita Zadorov stood up before his teammates and apologized for breaking a rule.

On Sunday morning, the Sabres benched the 19-year-old Russian for showing up to a meeting late.

“I just feel sorry this happened. … I couldn’t do that,” Zadorov said this afternoon inside the First Niagara Center. “It was my mistake, 100 percent, no excuses, couldn’t do that. I spoke with the team, I said, ‘I’m sorry, …

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Jake McCabe made his NHL season debut Sunday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Sabres coach Ted Nolan offered no details about Nikita Zadorov’s benching Sunday, only saying the defenseman was getting scratched for violating team rules, another episode in the 19-year-old’s turbulent rookie season.

“We had a number of discussions, and another thing happened this morning,” Nolan said prior to the Sabres’ 2-1 shootout loss to the Nashville Predators inside the First Niagara Center. “We’ll talk to him again.”

The Sabres needed Zadorov badly against the NHL’s best team. Three defensemen are ailing.

Josh …

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Nikita Zadorov was suspended last month. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Sabres defenseman Nikita Zadorov will be scratched for tonight’s game against the Nashville Predators for “team reasons,” coach Ted Nolan said this morning.

The 19-year-old Zadorov, whose maturity has been a problem all season, was suspended last month after his flight back to Buffalo following the NHL All-Star break was oversold.

“It’s just part of the growing process,” Nolan said inside the First Niagara Center. “We’ll just have to deal with him. He’s a 19-year-old. Sometimes you’re mature in certain …

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