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Rochester Americans

Mikhail Grigorenko has four goals this season. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Sabres prospect Mikhail Grigorenko needed some time to adjust. Getting demoted to the AHL wasn’t easy. The 20-year-center impressed during the NHL training camp, igniting speculation he could earn a roster spot.

But the rebuilding Sabres wanted the slick Russian to develop in Rochester, where he could receive loads of ice time, so they assigned him to the Americans on Oct. 6.

“It was probably tough a few days,” Grigorenko said Wednesday about acclimating to the AHL again. “It’s a …

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Nikita Zadorov (51) has been scratched all six games this season. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
7

BUFFALO – The complicated situation involving Sabres defenseman Nikita Zadorov, a healthy scratch all six games this season, could be resolved in the next 48 hours, the Russian’s agent said Sunday night.

The Sabres have essentially been stashing the 19-year-old prospect on their roster.

Here’s the issue: Zadorov, as a European, can’t be sent back to the London Knights, his junior team, because he doesn’t have a release from the Russian club that owns his rights. The Sabres don’t believe Zadorov’s ready …

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Sam Reinhart was selected No. 2 in June. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Naturally, Sabres center Sam Reinhart, the No. 2 pick in June, wants to play against Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad, the No. 1 pick, tonight.

The prospects don’t have much of a rivalry, though.

“Not the fact the fact that we’re one and two, it’s the fact that I know him very well,” Reinhart said this morning inside the First Niagara Center. “We’re pretty good friends.”

The two once roomed together at a Team Canada event. They also got to know …

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Patrick Kaleta practiced Thursday. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Patrick Kaleta’s face was mangled.

“Broke a bunch of things in there,” the oft-injured Sabres winger said Thursday following practice inside the First Niagara Center.

Kaleta said doctors inserted three plates and 14 screws after a shot hit him in the face during a Sept. 28 preseason game in Toronto. The 28-year-old has experienced blurred vision and migraines.

Still, less than three weeks after the scary incident, the Angola native is on the road back to game action. He skated with …

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Cody Hodgson switched positions late last season. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – A year ago, the thought of Cody Hodgson playing anywhere but center would have seemed absurd.

The Sabres had few viable options down the middle. Tyler Ennis was still bouncing between two forward spots. Zemgus Girgensons was just beginning his NHL career as a winger.

Besides, Hodgson had just signed a six-year, $25.5 million contract extension to be the No. 1 pivot.

But late in the season, following an evaluation period, the team’s new regime mapped out the future. Ennis had …

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Cody McCormick missed today's practice. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Forward Cody McCormick missed today’s practice but could accompany the Sabres to Chicago for Saturday’s game against the Blackhawks.

Sabres coach Ted Nolan officially called McCormick’s absence a maintenance day. He skated 10 minutes, 46 seconds in Thursday’s 3-1 season-opening loss to Columbus.

Brian Flynn subbed on his line between Nick Deslauriers and Torrey Mitchell.

In other news, the Sabres switched two centers today, putting 18-year-old rookie Sam Reinhart back between Marcus Foligno and Chris Stewart. Zemgus Girgensons went between Cody …

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Nick Deslauriers was a defenseman until last season. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – The whole season, Sabres winger Nick Deslauriers said, “was pretty crazy.”

Barely a year ago, Deslauriers was a defenseman in Los Angeles’ organization. Three years into his career, he hadn’t played an NHL game. Then a forward shortage forced the Kings to make him a winger.

Suddenly, Deslauriers became a goal scorer up front, compiling 16 in 60 games for AHL Manchester.

That scoring prowess, coupled with his usual nasty edge, caught the Sabres’ attention. They acquired the relatively unknown prospect …

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Ted Nolan coached the first game in the First Niagara Center almost 18 years ago. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Whether you’ve been in the NHL for 50 years or this is your first season, Sabres coach Ted Nolan said, “opening night’s always exciting.”

“Butterflies floating around like crazy,” Nolan said Wednesday after the Sabres prepared for tonight’s season opener against the Columbus Blue Jackets. “If it doesn’t happen, something’s going to be wrong.”

Tonight will be extra special for Nolan, who’s beginning his first full season as Sabres coach since 1996-97. He hasn’t coached an NHL team on opening …

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Sam Reinhart can play nine games before his entry-level contract begins. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – This could just be a brief, low-risk experiment. The Sabres have nine regular-season games to evaluate top prospect Sam Reinhart before the slick center’s entry-level contract kicks in.

Might as well use the trial, right?

Right now, Reinhart, the No. 2 pick in June, has a roster spot. The 18-year-old will make his NHL debut in Thursday’s season opener, Sabres coach Ted Nolan said.

The Sabres also have 19-year-old defenseman Nikita Zadorov on the roster. They must make some moves to …

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Mikhail Grigorenko impressed the Sabres during training camp. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Following an impressive training camp, 20-year-old Mikhail Grigorenko’s “real, real close” to making the NHL, Sabres coach Ted Nolan said.

“He’s knocking on the door,” Nolan said today after the Sabres sent the center to the AHL. “Right now, he needs just a little bit more seasoning.”

That seasoning will come in Rochester, where the Russian played 14 games late last season.

Grigorenko, who matured rapidly over the summer, made Nolan and general manager Tim Murray’s decision difficult.

“With Grigorenko and his …

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