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

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

Alexander Nylander spent three seasons in the Sabres organization. ©2019, Micheline Veluvolu, Rochester Americans

Trading Alexander Nylander was inevitable for Sabres

BUFFALO – Following another underwhelming season, it felt like only a matter of time before the Sabres cut their losses and traded winger Alexander Nylander.

Through three years as a pro, Nylander, the eighth overall pick by the Sabres’ old regime in 2016, has mostly been a bust.

Sure, the Swede has occasionally showcased his slick skills. Still, he hasn’t consistently displayed the tenacity to match them.

Nylander, 21, couldn’t develop into a dominant ... Read the full article

The Sabres drafted Alexander Nylander eighth overall in 2016. ©2019, Micheline Veluvolu, Rochester Americans

Sabres trade Alexander Nylander to Blackhawks for Henri Jokiharju

BUFFALO – The Sabres traded winger Alexander Nylander to the Chicago Blackhawks today for defenseman Henri Jokiharju, a swap of former first-round picks.

The deal is hardly surprising. Following another underwhelming season in which he battled injuries, Nylander’s days in the organization seemed numbered.

The Swede, the eighth overall pick by the team’s old regime in 2016, never showcased the tenacity to match his array of talents.... 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

Victor Olofsson had zero points in the short series. ©2019, Micheline Veluvolu, Rochester Americans

Promising season over for Amerks after sweep by Marlies

TORONTO – Fresh off a 99-point regular season, the Rochester Americans looked poised to start a long playoff run deep into the spring.

The Buffalo Sabres’ top affiliate possessed a strong mix of prospects and veterans, terrific scoring balance and perhaps the AHL’s best depth.

It was hard to find a weakness on the Amerks, a team constructed to win the Calder Cup.

For an organization that hasn’t won anything on any level in a ... Read the full article

Toronto's Chris Mueller, a West Seneca native, tries to convert a chance in front of Rochester goalie Scott Wedgewood on Friday. ©2019, Micheline Veluvolu, Rochester Americans

Amerks can’t convert early chances, fall to Marlies in playoff opener

ROCHESTER – For the opening 25 minutes of Friday’s first-round playoff opener, the Americans blitzed the Toronto Marlies, beating goalie Kasimir Kaskisuo four times.

Of course, the puck never actually went in the net. The Amerks rattled it off the post or crossbar four times. They missed empty nets, a breakaway and pumped 15 shots on goal in the first period.

So instead of seizing a commanding lead, the Amerks let the Marlies hang around ... Read the full article

Jeff Skinner was the Sabres' first 40-goal scorer in 10 years. ©2019, Hickling Images

Sabres’ Jeff Skinner needs time to think about future

BUFFALO – Sabres winger Jeff Skinner needs time to decompress following a grueling 82-game season before he starts thinking about his next contract.

Sure, the 40-goal scorer said he loves playing in Buffalo. Despite the Sabres’ sorry season – coach Phil Housley was fired Sunday – he believes they’re heading in the right direction.

But Skinner, who can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, made sure his contract took a backseat during the season.... Read the full article

Jack Eichel blamed the players, not Phil Houlsey. ©2019, Janet Schultz

Sabres surprised by Phil Housley’s firing, believe players at fault

BUFFALO – Just days before Phil Housley’s dismissal, captain Jack Eichel was adamant the Sabres’ woes should be pinned on the players, not the coach.

Eichel’s words, which he repeated this morning, couldn’t save Housley, who was fired Sunday after the Sabres’ sorry finish.

“It’s on us in the room,” Eichel said as the Sabres cleaned out their lockers and held end-of-season-meetings inside KeyBank Center. “We’re the product on the ice. It’s unfortunate that ... Read the full article

Jason Pominville scored his 16th goal this season Thursday. ©2019, Janet Schultz

Fans, teammates celebrate Jason Pominville in rare Sabres win

BUFFALO – The crowd kept roaring. For more than a minute late in Thursday’s 5-2 win, the fans saluted one of their favorites, winger Jason Pominville, after he capped off an emotional day by scoring perhaps his last goal for the Sabres.

The noise wouldn’t stop after Pominville, 36, was announced as the scorer, so after receiving a signal from his teammates, one of the greatest players in franchise history skated to center ice ... Read the full article