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Alexander Nylander hasn't worn a Sabres jersey on the ice yet. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
2

BUFFALO – Watching a top prospect skate in a Sabres jersey for the first time, even in a development camp setting, is a special experience for fans always eager to welcome new talent.

For the next six days, starting with today’s session inside HarborCenter, the Sabres’ rabid fan base will receive its first glimpses of Swedish winger Alexander Nylander, the eighth overall pick June 24 at the First Niagara Center, sporting blue and gold on the ice.

Nylander, of course, will be …

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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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Hudson Fasching could make his NHL debut later this week. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – When Hudson Fasching chose to play his junior season instead of signing with the Sabres, the winger said the opportunity to develop leadership skills enticed him back for another year at the University of Minnesota.

In his final NCAA campaign, Fasching, 20, served as one of four alternate captains on a team with only three seniors. Golden Gophers coach Don Lucia also leaned on Fasching more than ever, utilizing the 6-foot-2, 216-pound power forward in every role.

“I think that …

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Hudson Fasching played three seasons in the NCAA. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – The Sabres signed winger Hudson Fasching to a three-year, entry-level contract Monday, adding to their stable of talented forward prospects.

The 20-year-old will start with the Sabres immediately, according to multiple reports, meaning the first year of his deal will likely be used this season.

Fasching just finished his junior season at the University of Minnesota, scoring a team-high 20 goals, including seven game-winners, and 38 points in 37 games. The Sabres’ best NCAA prospect compiled 46 goals and 94 …

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Hudson Fasching will be a junior next season. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
2

BUFFALO – At 6-foot-2 and 207 pounds with perhaps the broadest shoulders in development camp, Sabres prospect Hudson Fasching looks built for pro hockey at just 19 years old.

But the American, who scored 14 goals as a freshman during the University of Minnesota’s run to the 2014 national championship game, recently announced he will return to the Gophers for his junior season.

Why?

“It was kind of about being an experienced player,” Fasching said Monday inside the First Niagara Center.

The opportunity to …

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Jack Eichel will be the talk of development camp. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – The thousands of Sabres fans who visit the First Niagara Center this week to watch the team’s prospects should leave with at least one special, indelible memory. For the first time up close on home ice, they’ll get to see slick center Jack Eichel.

Sure, it’s only a summer development camp. But watching Eichel in Sabres gear just two weeks after he was drafted second overall will likely never be forgotten.

Of course, Eichel will be the focus and talk …

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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
0

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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Alex Biega made his NHL debut Feb. 16. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

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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Rasmus Ristolainen put his stick in his face Monday. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – As players trickled off the ice Monday following practice, Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen suddenly bolted down the hallway holding his nose and went to the trainer’s room.

What happened?

Ristolainen apparently got caught in a rut on the ice, and his stick hit him in the face as he fell backward. The youngster will be OK, Sabres coach Ted Nolan said.

It’s a good thing, because the Sabres are running low on defensemen. They practiced Monday with only five healthy ones. …

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The Sabres acquired Hudson Fasching in March. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
5

BUFFALO – NHL teams kept asking Hudson Fasching the same question during pre-draft interviews last year. Each time, the Sabres prospect gave them a weak answer.

“A lot of teams were saying, ‘What kind of role are you?’” the winger recalled Monday following the first session of development camp inside the First Niagara Center. “I wasn’t really sure. They were like, ‘Come on, you need to pick a role.’”

Shortly after the talks, the Los Angeles Kings picked the 6-foot-2, 212-pound Fasching …

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