Free Agency Approaching

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Rochester Americans

Mark Pysyk figured he was in the Sabres' plans. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

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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Austin Osmanski was thrilled the Sabres drafted him. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – By late Saturday morning, as the seven-round NHL Draft crept toward the end, East Aurora’s Austin Osmanski and his 50 or 60 supporters started getting nervous.

At one point, Osmanski, 18, joked to his father, Kevin, who was sitting beside him, they should leave. But deep down, the defenseman was really worried he wouldn’t be selected by anyone, let alone the hometown Sabres.

Osmanski responded to his aunt’s attempt to lighten the mood with a blank stare. When the final …

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Pierre-Luc Dubois should be picked early tonight. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Once ultra-talented forwards Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi are nabbed early tonight, the NHL Draft might really get interesting.

Sure, after the Toronto Maple Leafs select Matthews, there’s speculation the Winnipeg Jets could pass on Laine, the presumptive No. 2 pick, and go for Puljujarvi, another Finn, leaving Laine for the Columbus Blue Jackets. But those three players will almost certainly go first.

What could happen next on the First Niagara Center floor is unclear. In past years, …

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Bobs Woods coached with Anaheim before going to junior hockey. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Sabres coach Dan Bylsma filled one of the openings on his staff today, hiring Bob Woods as an assistant.

Woods, 48, just spent two seasons as the coach and general manager of the junior Saskatoon Blades, a Western Hockey League club. Prior to that, he was as an NHL assistant under Bruce Boudreau for six years in Washington and Anaheim.

Before his NHL run, Woods coached with the AHL Hershey Bears for five years, including a year and a half …

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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
0

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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Auston Matthews should visit Buffalo with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Nov. 3. ©2016, Margaret Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – After the Sabres open their season Oct. 13 at home against the Montreal Canadiens, they start a four-game road trip – longer than any swing they had last season – three days later against Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers.

That’s just one notable stretch of the 82-game 2016-17 schedule the NHL released Tuesday.

The Sabres, who went 19-17-5 on the road last season, better get comfortable playing away from the First Niagara Center early, as eight of their first …

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Brad Tapper will serve on Dan Lamber's first Rochester staff. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
2

The Rochester Americans have hired Lockport native Chuck Weber and former NHL winger Brad Tapper as assistants on new coach Dan Lambert’s staff, the Buffalo Sabres’ AHL affiliate announced today.

Former assistants Paul Fixter and Chris Taylor were let go last week by Lambert, who took over the Amerks last month.

Weber, 43, was the Amerks’ head coach in 2010-11, their last season with the Florida Panthers before the Sabres bought the team. He was later coach, associate coach and director of …

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Auston Matthews received a lot of attention Friday. ©2016, Margaret Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – This city, the site of the 2016 NHL Scouting Combine and Draft, will always hold a special place in Auston Matthews’ heart.

After the combine concludes today, hockey’s biggest prospect will return in three weeks, and barring a seismic, unexpected turn of events, the Toronto Maple Leafs will select Matthews No. 1 overall June 24 inside the First Niagara Center.

The pinnacle of his young career will always be tied to Buffalo.

The Arizona-born Matthews has enjoyed experiencing Buffalo this week, …

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Jay McKee was recently promoted. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

The tweets are gone now, most likely casualties of Jay McKee’s budding new career.

In between gigs a few years ago, before McKee, 38, quickly ascended up the junior coaching ladder, the popular former Buffalo Sabres defenseman often eschewed the mundane words and pictures many ex-athletes tweet and utilized Twitter to showcase his lively personality.

It was all, of course, harmless fun for McKee, who on May 12 was named coach of the Kitchener Rangers. Still, tweets like the ones that poked …

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Dave Barr spent one year with the Sabres. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – The Sabres now have two assistant coaching vacancies, as Dave Barr has left the team to join former teammate Gerard Gallant’s staff with the Florida Panthers, according to multiple reports.

Sabres coach Dan Bylsma’s first staff – one that appeared to mesh quickly and work well together – has only assistant Terry Murray and goalie coach Andrew Allen left. The team shifted assistant Dan Lambert to Rochester last month to coach the AHL Americans.

Bylsma hired Barr, 55, almost a …

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