Best wishes to RJ

Archive:
Ott

Sam Reinhart skates last week at the NHL Prospects Tournament. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – If you love roster battles, the next three weeks of Sabres training camp should be fun.

About 34 players have a legitimate chance to crack the opening-night lineup. They have a prized prospect, slick center Sam Reinhart, vying for a spot. The starting goalie job is up for grabs. Defense spots are open. Nine or 10 guys will be competing for three fourth-line spots.

Players report for physicals today. The first on-ice session is Friday. Incredibly, the Sabres play their …

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Chris Stewart has played only five games with the Sabres. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – When Chris Stewart’s disappointing 15-goal season ended in April, the Sabres winger decided to stay put for the summer. Instead of returning home to Toronto, Stewart settled in a suburb and began preparing for what he called “another biggest season of my career.”

“I’ve been saying (that) for the last three, four years now,” Stewart, who hasn’t cracked the 20-goal mark since 2010-11, said last week after skating inside the Riverside Ice Rink.

This time, it’s true. Stewart, 27, is …

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Brian Gionta was Montreal's captain four seasons. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – To most observers, it’s a formality. At some point before the season begins Oct. 9, the Sabres will name Brian Gionta their new captain.

Awarding Gionta the prestigious ‘C’ makes sense. The 35-year-old, the rebuilding club’s oldest and most experienced player, just served four seasons as Montreal’s captain. He won the Stanley Cup with New Jersey in 2003.

By any measure, the winger’s the Sabres’ most qualified candidate.

Still, Gionta, who signed a three-year, $12.75 million contract July 1, said he …

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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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Tim Murray (left) wants to sign veterans to support youngsters like Sam Reinhart. ©2014, Margaret Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – The Sabres have a pretty simple free agency plan. The rebuilding club wants to add some respected veterans, preferably skilled ones who can mentor the team’s youngsters and are willing to take a short term, perhaps just a year or two.

Yes, the Sabres need to add salary badly when the market opens at noon today. After all, they’re a stunning $20,580,834 under the floor. But reaching that mark, a touchy subject for general manager Tim Murray, isn’t the …

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The Sabres named new captains before last season. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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On Oct. 1, the Buffalo Sabres unveiled their new leadership crew, co-captains Steve Ott and Thomas Vanek and alternate Christian Ehrhoff.

Nine months later, all three are gone.

Vanek was dealt later that month. Ott went in February. Ehrhoff was bought out Sunday.

Looking for a picture that can capture the Sabres’ radical transformation? Look above.

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Florida selected Aaron Ekblad No. 1. ©2014, Margaret Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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PHILADELPHIA – The Buffalo Sabres’ chances of winning the Connor McDavid sweepstakes could be taking a small hit.

General manager Tim Murray said Friday the NHL will likely alter its draft lottery next year.

What’s going to happen?

Murray said the odds of the league’s worst team getting the No. 1 pick will drop from 25 percent to about 19 or 20 percent. The tradeoff? The 30th team can’t fall past the No. 2 spot.

The Sabres, despite a league-low 52 points last season, …

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Tim Murray knows the Sabres will be in contention for a lottery pick again. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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PHILADELPHIA – Some notes from Buffalo Sabres general manager Tim Murray’s chat with the media today prior tonight’s NHL Entry Draft:

– Murray said changes are probably coming to the NHL Draft Lottery next year, which could hurt the Sabres greatly. The NHL Board of Governors discussed the alterations Thursday.

The odds of the league’s worst team getting the No. 1 pick will drop from 25 percent to about 19 or 20 percent, Murray said. The tradeoff? The 30th team can’t fall …

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Thomas Vanek played 47 games with the New York Islanders before getting traded to Montreal. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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The New York Islanders will be keeping the No. 5 pick in June’s NHL Entry Draft and giving the Buffalo Sabres their first-round selection next year to complete the Thomas Vanek trade, the club announced today.

The Isles had until June 1 to decide.

There had been some speculation the Isles would want to have their 2015 pick for a chance at Connor McDavid, arguably the biggest prospect since Sidney Crosby.

The Sabres now have three 2015 first-round picks. In addition to their …

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Ryan Miller played 25 total games with St. Louis. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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The conditional draft pick the Buffalo Sabres received from the St. Louis Blues in the blockbuster Ryan Miller-Steve Ott trade won’t become this year’s first-rounder.

The Blues signed backup goalie Brian Elliott to a three-year extension today, effectively ending Miller’s short run with the club.

The Sabres will likely receive a 2016 third-round selection now.

Clearly, the Blues, a team built to win the Stanley Cup this season, weren’t going to re-sign Miller after their disappointing first-round exit. But today’s news more or …

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