Free Agency Approaching

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Pominville

Jack Eichel (15) fends off Minnesota's Marco Scandella on Saturday afternoon. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Finally, thanks to rookie Jack Eichel’s score, it appeared the Sabres’ first shootout goal in months would help them eke out a win after blowing a late lead against the Minnesota Wild.

Eichel, just 66 games into his career, already has a commanding on-ice presence. His exploits create excitement and momentum, and his first NHL shootout goal in four tries had the capacity crowd of 19,070 fans inside the First Niagara Center buzzing Saturday afternoon.

Still, it wasn’t enough to …

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Sam Reinhart (23) celebrates his first-period goal Sunday afternoon. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Many days, long after most of their Sabres teammates have finished practicing, center Ryan O’Reilly and winger Sam Reinhart stay on the ice and work on tip drills.

O’Reilly, an adroit passer, has probably fed Reinhart thousands of pucks this season, helping the rookie quickly morph into a supreme net-front presence.

The chemistry they’ve quickly developed was on display 17:14 into the Sabres’ 4-1 win Sunday afternoon against the Colorado Avalanche, when Reinhart redirected O’Reilly’s long slap pass from the …

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Phil Varone has been a healthy scratch this season. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

ROCHESTER – One of the oddest situations in the minors is unfolding with the AHL Americans, the Buffalo Sabres’ high-priced affiliate. The club has too many veterans, meaning some notable talent earning six figures has been forced to sit out to comply with league development rules.

The Amerks scratched Jerry D’Amigo and Patrick Kaleta, two forwards with 379 games of NHL experience, Friday. Forward Matt Ellis, an alternate captain less than a year removed from regular NHL duty, sat out for …

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Lindy Ruff's Stars lead the NHL with 15 wins. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – A scorching start buoyed by the NHL’s best offense. Young superstar talent. Terrific depth.

When did the Dallas Stars’ Lindy Ruff have all that before? Nine years ago, when Ruff coached a slick young Sabres team to the 2006-07 Eastern Conference final following a 113-point regular season.

Back then, Ruff had a stacked club led by co-captains Daniel Briere and Chris Drury and young talent like Brian Campbell, Ryan Miller, Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek.

These days, Ruff has reigning scoring …

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Randy Cunneyworth talks Wednesday. ©2015, Micheline Veluvolu, Rochester Americans
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
4

ROCHESTER – For three years, wherever Randy Cunneyworth went, he was asked the same question.

“I don’t think there was a person I came across that didn’t mention, ‘Are you going to get back into coaching or not?’” Cunneyworth recalled Wednesday after being introduced as the Rochester Americans’ new coach inside the Blue Cross War Memorial.

Cunneyworth enjoyed his player development job with the Buffalo Sabres – “I’m into whatever I’m doing,” he said – but coaching was “always prevalent on my …

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Randy Cunneyworth was Montreal's interim coach for 50 games in 2011-12. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
2

BUFFALO – As the summer dragged on and the Rochester Americans’ coaching job remained open, one name kept popping up in rumors: Randy Cunneyworth, who had coached the Sabres’ AHL affiliate for eight seasons before moving up to the NHL.

Cunneyworth appeared to be the logical choice. The 54-year-old, a noted talent developer, was already a special assistant and a player development coach with the Amerks. He’s familiar with Buffalo’s prospects and the organization.

Sure enough, the Sabres general manager Tim Murray …

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Johan Larsson (22) battles Pittsburgh's Ben Lovejoy for the puck April 11. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – The Sabres have re-signed center Johan Larsson to a one-year, $800,000 contract, according to a Swedish newspaper report.

The Sabres now only have one unsigned restricted free agent, winger Jerry D’Amigo.

Larsson finished last season as the Sabres’ No. 1 center, scoring four goals and 14 points in his final 20 games. The 22-year-old Swede, however, struggled earlier when he played on checking lines. He scored six goals and 16 points in 39 total NHL games last season. He also …

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Ted Nolan thinks fans will cheer for the Sabres tonight. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
2

BUFFALO – Deep down, Sabres coach Ted Nolan probably knows the scene inside the First Niagara Center could get ugly for tonight’s anticipated matchup with the Arizona Coyotes, a contest between the NHL’s two worst teams.

With a prized, potentially franchise-changing prospect – either Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel – essentially guaranteed with a loss, fans could do the unthinkable – root against the 30th-place Sabres, who trail Arizona by five points with nine games left. There have been some odd …

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The Sabres could call on Matt Hackett often down the stretch. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – In less than a year, Sabres prospect Matt Hackett morphed from Ryan Miller’s possible heir apparent into an afterthought, the fifth goalie on the rebuilding team’s depth chart.

Hackett struggled last year in Rochester, posting career-worst numbers. Then the 25-year-old tore up his knee during a late-season recall, shelving him for nine months.

As Hackett rehabbed, Jhonas Enroth and Michal Neuvirth battled for the Sabres’ starting job. In Rochester, Nathan Lieuwen and Andrey Makarov tried to build off of strong …

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Chris Stewart has 11 goals this season. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – The Sabres have traded winger Chris Stewart to the Minnesota Wild for a 2017 second-round pick.

The 27-year-old, a free agent following the season, has 11 goals and 25 points in 61 games this season.

According to Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Mike Russo, the Sabres are picking up half of Stewart’s salary.

The trade deadline has passed. Stay tuned for more details.

The Sabres have become regular deadline partners with Minnesota, sending the Wild Jason Pominville in 2013 and Matt Moulson and Cody McCormick …

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