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

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

Sabres want to pursue Steven Stamkos

BUFFALO – In acquiring Dmitry 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 ... Read the full article

Sabres draft pick Rasmus Asplund (left) walks Saturday with Chris Bandura, the team’s director of media relations. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Swapping picks allows Sabres to draft Rasmus Asplund

BUFFALO – The trade was almost complete. The Sabres and Florida Panthers had agreed to swap defensemen Mark Pysyk and Dmitry 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... Read the full article

Rasmus Asplund played with Alexander Nylander is Sweden. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres pick Rasmus Asplund shares chemistry with Alexander Nylander

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 ... Read the full article

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

Sabres trade Mark Pysyk, picks to Panthers for Dmitry Kulikov

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 Dmitry 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 ... Read the full article