Dmitry Kulikov was injured in the preseason. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Overcoming back injury tough for Sabres’ Dmitry Kulikov

BUFFALO – These days, Sabres defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, a young veteran at just 26 years old, said he feels like an old man when he wakes up.

A lower-back bruise has been dogging the Russian for four months, forcing him out of the lineup three times and costing him 26 games.

Kulikov has dealt with the pain through a daily treatment regimen, and Thursday’s 2-1 overtime loss against New York Rangers was his fourth ... Read the full article

Dmitry Kulikov has played 23 games this season. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Dealing with back injury difficult for Sabres’ Dmitry Kulikov

BUFFALO – These days, Sabres defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, a young veteran at just 26 years old, said he feels like an old man when he wakes up.

A lower-back bruise has been dogging the Russian for four months, forcing him out of the lineup three times and costing him 26 games.

Kulikov has dealt with the pain through a daily treatment regimen, and tonight’s tilt against New York Rangers will be his fourth straight ... Read the full article

Sam Reinhart smiles after scoring Saturday afternoon. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Sam Reinhart finally scores first goal

BUFFALO – As the seven-game mark approached, Sabres forward Sam Reinhart figured after all his missed opportunities, his first goal would be fluky.

“The way the year has been going, that’s the way the first one had to go in, because the chances have been there,” Reinhart said after scoring a power-play goal late in Saturday afternoon’s 3-0 win against the Florida Panthers inside KeyBank Center.

Sure enough, 8:48 into the third period, Reinhart tried ... Read the full article

Mark Pysyk was a first-round pick in 2010. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Former Sabres regular Mark Pysyk happy with Panthers

BUFFALO – Being back here felt “weird,” Mark Pysyk, clad in Florida Panthers workout gear, said Saturday morning as he took a break from preparing for his first game as a visitor at KeyBank Center.

Pysyk, 24, grew up with the Sabres, developing from a first-round pick in 2010 into an NHL defenseman.

“The last six years I’ve been coming here for … everything,” Pysyk said prior to the Sabres’ 3-0 win against ... Read the full article

Dmitry Kulikov (left) chases down new Sabres teammate Zemgus Girgensons with Florida in 2014-15. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Dmitry Kulikov finally joins Sabres

BUFFALO – Coach Dan Bylsma noticed it right away. So did some others on the ice for Wednesday’s practice, the Sabres’ first training camp session with defenseman Dmitry Kulikov.

“A couple comments on the D-man (being) able to get the puck up to the forwards with Dmitry,” Bylsma said inside KeyBank Center. “It’s good to see.”

The Sabres acquired Kulikov from the Florida Panthers on June 25 for a slew of reasons, including his ... Read the full article

Cody Franson suffered a season-ending injury Feb. 19. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres need more defense depth

How remarkably healthy did the Buffalo blue line stay in 2015-16? The Sabres recalled a defenseman as an injury replacement just once.

Think about that. Over the course of the grueling six-month, 82-game season, the Sabres only dipped into the AHL on March 18, when they summoned Chad Ruhwedel to sub for Carlo Colaiacovo prior to their 72nd contest. Ruhwedel played that night and was quickly returned to the Rochester Americans.

The Sabres almost ... Read the full article

Kyle Okposo will sign a lucrative contract. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres won’t find elite talent in free agency

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 ... Read the full article

Dmitri Kulikov thought he would stay in Florida. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Dmitry Kulikov excited by opportunities Sabres offer

BUFFALO – When the Sabres examined defenseman Dmitry 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 ... Read the full article

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

Dmitry Kulikov on joining Sabres: ‘Change is sometimes for the best’

BUFFALO – When the Florida Panthers acquired Keith Yandle’s rights last week, Dmitry 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 ... Read the full article

Mark Pysyk figured he was in the Sabres' plans. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Mark Pysyk surprised by trade from Sabres to Panthers

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 ... Read the full article