Free Agency Time

Archive:
Pysyk

Kyle Okposo will sign a lucrative contract. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – The pickings are so slim in NHL free agency this year, perhaps the most coveted player available, Kyle Okposo, has never cracked the 30-goal or 70-point marks.

Okposo, of course, is a talented winger. The Minnesota native is coming off a 22-goal, 64-point season with the New York Islanders. He has 139 goals and 369 points in 529 NHL games over nine years, including three 20-goal seasons and two 60-point campaigns.

Yes, Okposo has been productive over the years. But …

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Dmitri Kulikov thought he would stay in Florida. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – When the Sabres examined defenseman Dmitri Kulikov as a potential trade target, the team’s decision-makers studied video of the Florida Panthers’ first-round playoff series.

While the Panthers lost to the lower-seeded New York Islanders in six games, Kulikov’s performance wowed them. In critical tilts, the Russian thrived playing a No. 1 shutdown role against the Isles’ top talent.

Those outings helped convince the Sabres they needed to pursue the Russian, who believes he found something extra in himself to “push …

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Dmitri Kulikov is excited by his new opportunity. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – When the Florida Panthers acquired Keith Yandle’s rights last week, Dmitri Kulikov was initially excited the team had an offensive defenseman in its arsenal.

But three days later, the Panthers signed Yandle to a seven-year, $44.45 million contract. With the NHL Draft just a day away, Kulikov, 25, said he was starting to have doubts he would stay in Florida.

“I was comfortable in Florida,” Kulikov, who was traded to the Sabres on Saturday at the draft, said this afternoon …

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Mark Pysyk figured he was in the Sabres' plans. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Fresh off his first full NHL season, Mark Pysyk figured he was in the Sabres’ long-term plans. With the defenseman skating regular minutes in 55 games, the team improved 27 points, moving from last overall to 23rd.

“I wasn’t really banking on anything happening,” Pysyk told the Times Herald by phone Sunday.

Then Saturday morning, as Pysyk slept, his phone began lighting up with calls and texts. Eventually, his fiancé informed him the Sabres had just traded him to the …

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Dmitri Kulikov fills a big need for the Sabres. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – In acquiring Dmitri Kulikov from the Florida Panthers on Saturday morning, the Sabres added the versatile, left-handed defenseman they coveted and filled perhaps their biggest need.

“We have a need for a left-shot D,” Sabres general manager Tim Murray said after the NHL Draft ended.

There are, of course, other holes, including up front, where the Sabres must add more scoring, either through trades or free agency.

“The best that are available at any position I’m going to listen to,” Murray …

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Sabres draft pick Rasmus Asplund (left) walks Saturday with Chris Bandura, the team's director of media relations. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – The trade was almost complete. The Sabres and Florida Panthers had agreed to swap defensemen Mark Pysyk and Dmitri Kulikov as the main components.

But the sides hadn’t worked out draft picks yet. Originally, general manager Tim Murray wanted to give the Sabres’ first third-round pick, 69th overall, to his counterpart, Tom Rowe, at the NHL Draft.

Murray went back to Rowe on Saturday morning and offered his last third-rounder, 89th overall, and said he wanted to flip-flop second-round picks. …

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Rasmus Asplund played with Alexander Nylander is Sweden. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Early in the winter at the world junior championship, NHL Draft prospect Rasmus Asplund centered Alexander Nylander, the winger the Sabres drafted eighth overall Friday.

Clearly, the Sabres liked the chemistry the two showcased together representing Sweden, as they drafted Asplund, 18, with the 33rd pick this morning inside the First Niagara Center.

“He was one of the guys I had the best chemistry with in my whole career,” an excited Asplund said.

The 5-foot-11, 176-pound Asplund scored four goals and …

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Dmitri Kulikov is a left-handed defenseman. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – The Sabres swapped defensemen and draft picks with the Florida Panthers this morning, trading Mark Pysyk and the 38th and 89th selections to the Florida Panthers for Dmitri Kulikov and the 33rd pick.

The Sabres used that selection to take Swedish center Rasmus Asplund, who centered Alexander Nylander, the eighth overall pick by Buffalo, at the world junior championship.

Kulikov, 25, could be the left-handed defenseman Sabres general manager Tim Murray covets. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Russian has 28 goals and 138 …

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Rasmus Ristolainen has been a strong pick for the Sabres. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – To thrive in the modern NHL, teams must build through the draft. It’s that simple. The days of loading up with veteran players through free agency or trades are long gone. The league belongs to the 20-somethings now, and if teams draft poorly, they’re doomed.

How good are the Sabres at drafting? Judge for yourself below. Since drafts usually don’t start paying dividends for a few years, here’s a look at their selections from 2008-13. Eighteen of Buffalo’s 47 …

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Carlo Colaiacovo enjoys mentoring young players. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

BUFFALO – Carlo Colaiacovo’s goal when he signed a one-year contract in July was pretty straightforward. Following three seasons of sporadic duty, the veteran defenseman wanted to become an everyday player again with the Sabres.

“When I signed in Buffalo, I believed that opportunity was there for me, and obviously things change,” Colaiacovo said last week.

Things changed a lot on the blue line in a hurry.

The Sabres signed Cody Franson days before training camp started. Jake McCabe, a prospect on the …

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