Matej Pekar loves to be an agitater. ©2019, Micheline Veluvolu, Rochester Americans

Sabres prospect Matej Pekar thrilled to earn spot in NHL exhibition game

BUFFALO – Matej Pekar acknowledged he had been thinking about this opportunity. Sure, it’s just an NHL preseason game. But for the Sabres prospect, tonight’s exhibition represents another small milestone.

“It’s happening,” Pekar said after he prepared for the Sabres’ road contest against the Columbus Blue Jackets, his preseason NHL debut. “I just have to be ready for it.”

While Pekar, 19, is probably a longshot to crack the Sabres, his mix of skill and ... Read the full article

Henri Jokiharju won two gold medals last season. ©2019, Hickling Images

Henri Jokiharju impressed Sabres GM Jason Botterill before up-close look

BUFFALO – Sabres general manager Jason Botterill knew of Henri Jokiharju’s talents before he watched the defenseman up close during Team Finland’s run to a gold medal at the World Championship in the spring.

So even if Botterill hadn’t run Team Canada’s entry in Slovakia, the Sabres still might’ve dished winger Alexander Nylander to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Jokiharju on July 9.

“It certainly helps things out to see a player play on ... Read the full article

Rasmus Ristolainen compiled an NHL-worst minus-41 rating last season. ©2019, Janet Schultz

Sabres want to put Rasmus Ristolainen in ‘positions to have success’

BUFFALO – General manager Jason Botterill said he wasn’t surprised or disappointed defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen indicated in a Finnish interview last week he has asked the Sabres to be traded.

“There’s always stories coming out when players go back and … there’s stories from other organizations coming out of Finland and stuff, too,” Botterill said during Saturday’s Sabres Fan Fest inside KeyBank Center, an event that celebrated the team’s 50th anniversary season. “So those are ... 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

Colin Miller gives the Sabres five right-handed defensemen. ©2019, Hickling Images

Colin Miller’s acquisition could be start of busy summer for Sabres

BUFFALO – The Sabres’ acquisition of defenseman Colin Miller from the Vegas Golden Knights for two draft picks Friday night will only fuel speculation more moves are coming soon.

Right-shot defenseman are coveted by NHL teams. The Sabres now possess five of them, a high number they must trim to create more balance on their defense pairs.

Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, of course, is a righty. After six seasons of losing in Buffalo, a ... Read the full article

Jack Hughes is the presumptive first overall pick. ©2019, Hickling Images

Sabres will have strong options early at NHL Draft

VANCOUVER – The first two picks of tonight’s NHL Draft have been set for months. Unless something wild transpires inside Rogers Arena, the New Jersey Devils will select Jack Hughes first overall and the New York Rangers will grab Kaapo Kakko second.

The 2019 draft really begins with the third pick, when the Chicago Blackhawks go on the clock.

Drafts, of course, are always unpredictable. Youngsters pegged as surefire high picks inevitably fall.

But the ... Read the full article

Chris Taylor has coached Rochester two seasons. ©2019, Micheline Veluvolu, Rochester Americans

Coach Chris Taylor will likely stay put with Amerks

BUFFALO – When the Sabres began their coaching search last month, general manager Jason Botterill and his assistants, Steve Greeley and Randy Sexton, talked a lot about pursuing experienced NHL candidates.

“But we also wanted to make sure we opened it up,” Botterill said Wednesday inside KeyBank Center after the Sabres announced Ralph Krueger as their new coach. “Through this process it wasn’t always out in the media, but we looked at a lot of ... Read the full article

Jeff Skinner scored a career-high 40 goals in 2018-19. ©2019, Hickling Images

Sabres notes: GM Jason Botterill knows Jeff Skinner interested to see coach

BUFFALO – Sabres general manager Jason Botterill understands 40-goal winger Jeff Skinner needed to know something important before making a huge decision.

“If you’re going to sign a long-term contract with an organization, you kind of want to know who the head coach is,” Botterill said Wednesday after announcing Ralph Krueger as the 19th head coach in franchise history.

Skinner, who turns 27 on Thursday, can become an unrestricted free agent July 1. Until ... Read the full article

Lawrence Pilut played 33 games with the Sabres in 2018-19. ©2019, Hickling Images

Sabres’ Lawrence Pilut undergoes shoulder surgery, out five to six months

BUFFALO – Sabres defenseman Lawrence Pilut underwent successful shoulder surgery and will be sidelined five to six months, the team announced this morning.

Just five weeks into the offseason, two Sabres defensemen – Zach Bogosian had his hip repaired last month – have had surgery and will likely miss training camp and the start of the regular season. Like Pilut, Bogosian needs five to six months to recover.

The Sabres’ dwindling depth, of course, will ... Read the full article

Brandon Montour joined the Sabres on Feb. 24. ©2019, Hickling Images

Sabres’ Brandon Montour to represent Canada at World Championship

Buffalo Sabres defenseman Brandon Montour was among 22 players Hockey Canada named to its roster today for the upcoming World Championship in Slovakia.

Montour, 25, will be joining Sabres winger Sam Reinhart, 23, on Team Canada. Reinhart said earlier this month he planned to represent his country.

Sabres general manager Jason Botterill, who must hire a coach to replace Phil Housley, is running Canada’s entry with Ron Francis and Ron Hextall. Montour has never represented ... Read the full article