Free agency time

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McNabb

Jack Eichel will be the talk of development camp. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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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
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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Alex Biega made his NHL debut Feb. 16. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
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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Rasmus Ristolainen put his stick in his face Monday. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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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
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
4

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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Zemgus Girgensons spent all last season with the Sabres. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Some experts are already predicting the Sabres, a team three months removed from the worst NHL season in recent memory, will be legitimate Stanley Cup contenders in a few years.

Why? Their prospect pool might be the deepest in hockey.

Seven first-round picks are participating in the team’s development camp this week. Seven of the 41 prospects played in the NHL last season, including center Zemgus Girgensons, who spent the entire campaign with the Sabres.

Fans can get their first glimpses …

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Nick Deslauriers played 17 games with the Sabres in 2013-14. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – The Sabres have re-signed winger Nick Deslauriers to a one-way, two-year contract.

The deal is worth $1.25 million, according to capgeek.com. The 23-year-old would’ve become a restricted free agent this summer.

Deslauriers, acquired from Los Angeles in the March 5 Brayden McNabb trade, compiled one goal and 18 penalty minutes in his first 17 NHL games. He played 10 total games in Rochester following the season.

“Nick was able to step in and compete in every situation we put him in,” …

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The Sabres recalled Nathan Lieuwen today. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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The Sabres recalled goalie Nathan Lieuwen from Rochester today. What’s the 22-year-old endured to make the NHL?

A lot.

I wrote this in July 2011 just a couple of weeks after the Sabres drafted him.

LEWISTON – Yeah, Nathan Lieuwen thought the worst. The Buffalo Sabres goalie prospect is only human, you know. He knew the two scary concussions that had derailed his promising junior hockey career could potentially force him to retire as teenager.

“It crossed my mind,” Lieuwen, the 167th pick by …

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Nicolas Deslauriers has never played in the NHL. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – The Sabres have recalled wingers Luke Adam and Nicolas Deslauriers from Rochester on an emergency basis. They could play tonight in Florida.

Forwards Zemgus Girgensons and Chris Stewart left Thursday’s 3-1 in Tampa Bay after suffering lower-body injuries and are likely out against the Panthers.

Interim coach Ted Nolan said the Sabres probably wouldn’t summon anyone because winger Cory Conacher, a waiver acquisition, was set to join the club and they have center Zenon Konopka as a spare.

Adam has 24 …

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Matt Moulson played less than one season with the Sabres. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Tim Murray said he began his first NHL trade deadline day as a general manager with no expectations, unsure which direction the rebuilding Sabres might go.

By the end Wednesday, Murray had made three notable deals, trading familiar names like Matt Moulson, Cody McCormick and Brayden McNabb while acquiring NHL talent and prospects. He also grabbed Canisius product Cory Conacher off waivers.

Murray, who sent franchise goalie Ryan Miller and captain Steve Ott to St. Louis on Friday, called it …

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