Matt Ellis skates in his final NHL game April 11, 2015. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Former Sabre Matt Ellis happy in retirement, excited for future

BUFFALO – As last season unfolded, popular former Sabres forward Matt Ellis sensed the inevitable end to his long and unlikely career.

At times, Ellis, 35, said he felt like a spare part with the Rochester Americans, a victim of age and a changing game. AHL veteran rules often forced him to sit out as a healthy scratch. The adversity, he believes, tested his character and how badly he wanted to keep playing.

“There ... Read the full article

William Carrier skates Thursday with a parachute a development camp. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres prospect William Carrier close to making NHL

BUFFALO – By around mid-March, it looked imminent. William Carrier, the often overshadowed Sabres prospect, was about to earn his first NHL recall from the Rochester Americans.

In a 21-game stretch, Carrier scored nine goals and 20 points. Before his torrid run, Carrier had compiled only 11 goals and 31 points in his first 94 AHL contests.

“One good game, two good games – it just starts rolling out,” Carrier said Thursday following a development ... Read the full article

Derek Grant has been a productive AHL player. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres add forward depth with Derek Grant

BUFFALO – The Sabres have added forward depth on the second day of free agency, signing center Derek Grant to a one-year, two-way contract.

The 6-foot-3, 202-pound Grant, 26, will likely be ticketed for the AHL Rochester Americans.

The Michigan State product has three assists in 40 NHL games with the Ottawa Senators and Calgary Flames. Grant has often been a top-level AHL scorer, compiling 88 goals and 162 points in 292 games since 2010-11.... Read the full article

Kyle Okposo was sold on Buffalo early. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Kyle Okposo sees Stanley Cup in Sabres’ future

BUFFALO – The conversation lasted maybe 15 minutes. General manager Tim Murray wanted to gauge Kyle Okposo’s interest, and the free agent wanted to hear what the Sabres could offer him.

When Murray began telling him how underrated the city is, Okposo stopped him and said he knows all about Buffalo and likes it. The nine-year veteran wanted to learn more about the organization.

So after Murray talked about the Sabres and the bright future ... Read the full article

Dan Catenacci has played three seasons in the AHL. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Dan Catenacci paid dues to earn first NHL recall

BUFFALO – In his first three AHL seasons, Sabres winger Dan Catenacci has developed what he believes is a strong relationship with his coaches. So the youngster was shocked when Randy Cunneyworth summoned him to his office Friday and the entire Rochester Americans’ staff began berating him.

What was the beef? Something Catenacci called a “nothing play” in the previous game.

“They started yelling at me,” he said Monday following practice inside the First Niagara ... Read the full article

Tim Schaller has played 17 NHL games this season. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres send forwards to Amerks

BUFFALO – The Sabres sent forwards Cal O’Reilly, Tim Schaller and Phil Varone to the Rochester Americans today, the start of the NHL All-Star break.

The Amerks host the Syracuse Crunch tonight.

O’Reilly, 29, has one assist in five NHL games this season. Schaller, 25, has one goal and three points in 17 appearances. Varone, 25, has one goal in four games.

O’Reilly is eligible again to play in the AHL All-Star Game on ... Read the full article

Tim Schaller scores his first-period short-handed goal Saturday. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres throttle Capitals, end home skid

BUFFALO – Count the Sabres’ exciting 4-1 shellacking of the high-powered Washington Capitals on Saturday as perhaps the most impressive victory felt in these parts in years.

The 29th-ranked Sabres ended a five-game home losing streak while manhandling the league-leading Capitals, who roared into the First Niagara Center having won five straight contests and 14 of the last 16.

This one was never in doubt and had a little bit of everything. First-period ... Read the full article

Dan Bylsma (right) took over the Sabres' coaching job this season. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres still work in progress halfway through season

BUFFALO – Sabres coach Dan Bylsma noticed almost immediately, way back in September, and it surprised him. Training camp had just started with an overhauled roster – about 10 new faces, in fact – yet his players were already forming close bonds.

“They enjoy being a part of this team and part of this group,” Bylsma said Thursday inside the First Niagara Center. “It has developed. It is a part of what we are. … ... Read the full article

Ramus Ristolainen hasn't scored a goal in 11 games. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Rasmus Ristolainen struggling

BUFFALO – For a portion of today’s practice, Rasmus Ristolainen watched the Sabres go through their drills from bench. Was coach Dan Bylsma sending the struggling defenseman a message?

“Not at all,” Bylsma said inside the First Niagara Center.

Bylsma said “there was nothing to read into it” and he was simply trying out some new pairings. Still, Ristolainen, the Sabres’ ace defenseman all season, has been struggling beside partner Josh Gorges.

Ristolainen, 21, is ... Read the full article

Ryan O'Reilly leads the Sabres in goals and points. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Ryan O’Reilly grateful for NHL All-Star berth, opportunity with Sabres

BUFFALO – Right away, everything has clicked for center Ryan O’Reilly. In just half a season here, the 24-year-old has quickly become the Sabres’ MVP and perhaps their most popular player.

O’Reilly plays more minutes than any other NHL forward. He leads the Sabres in scoring and has 17 points in the last 17 games. No one in the league has taken more faceoffs. Following losses, he regularly takes responsibility for his performance and ... Read the full article