The Eichel Era

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Sekera

Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his first-period goal Tuesday. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – As much as Jack Eichel and Connor McDavid tried to downplay the hype, say that Tuesday’s first-ever meeting between the top two picks was really about their teams, in the end, the rookies ended up being the talk of the Edmonton Oilers’ 2-1 overtime triumph against the Sabres.

The game almost played out like it had been scripted, with McDavid, the phenom Sabres fans coveted before the Oilers won the NHL Draft Lottery last year, scoring the slick winner …

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Connor McDavid (97) downplayed hype before his first game in Buffalo. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Dan Bylsma, as he loves to do, kept accompanying his words with a sly grin. The so-called rivalry between phenoms Jack Eichel and Connor McDavid is a “made-up” scenario, the Sabres coach said Tuesday.

The Sabres’ 2-1 overtime loss to McDavid’s Edmonton Oilers was the first-ever NHL meeting between the “generational talents” drafted first and second overall last year. The rookies barely know each other.

How could they truly be rivals?

“The hype is produced,” Bylsma told a packed media room …

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Andrej Sekera might get snatched up early in free agency. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – For a rebuilding team fresh off two consecutive 30th-place finishes, the Sabres’ shopping list entering free agency, which opens today at noon, is relatively small. A weekend of wheeling and dealing at the NHL Draft pretty much set the roster for the upcoming season.

The Sabres have two goalies, four forward lines and almost a full defense corps. Not bad for a team that finished 2014-15 using a patchwork lineup filled with AHL players.

General manager Tim Murray’s main target …

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Cory Conacher is looking for a new team. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

BUFFALO – The short Sabres careers of winger Cory Conacher and defenseman Jamie McBain are over.

The rebuilding club passed on giving them qualifying offers as restricted free agents, making them free to sign with any team.

The Sabres also didn’t qualify defensemen Nick Crawford and Matt MacKenzie, who played in Rochester, and goalie Connor Knapp, who played two NHL games last season.

Sabres general manager Tim Murray said Monday morning McBain, who struggled his one season here, wouldn’t be coming back. Murray …

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Jamie McBain played one season with the Sabres. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Defenseman Jamie McBain’s short Sabres career is over.

The 26-year-old restricted free agent won’t be given a qualifying offer, general manager Tim Murray said this morning inside the First Niagara Center.

McBain struggled much of last season, compiling six goals, 17 points and a minus-13 rating in 69 appearances. The Sabres acquired him in the Andrej Sekera trade with Carolina a year ago today.

What about the other RFAs?

Murray said “maybe” when asked about winger Cory Conacher and defenseman Matt MacKenzie. …

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Joel Armia hasn't played in a regular-season NHL game yet. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
3

Since most NHL Entry Drafts don’t start paying dividends for a few years, here’s a look at the Buffalo Sabres’ first-round picks from 2006-11 and some notable hits and misses. Fourteen of Buffalo’s 43 draft choices over that time have made the NHL.

The Sabres have eight picks this weekend in Philadelphia, including the No. 2 selection.

2011

First-round pick: center Joel Armia, 16th overall

Armia endured a rough season in 2013-14, his first in North America. The 21-year-old broke his hand during an …

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Phil Varone (84) spent some of his NHL debut beside Carolina goalie Anton Khudobin. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
2

BUFFALO – The voice on the other end of the phone was excited. For a moment, Tony Varone thought his son, Sabres center Phil Varone, had been in a car accident.

“I said, ‘Is everything OK?’” the elder Varone recalled a day later inside the First Niagara Center.

Phil Varone, who nearly shunned the Sabres to play hockey for the University of New Brunswick in 2011, was calling with good news, though.

“He said, ‘Yes, yes, I just got called up!’” Tony Varone …

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Andrej Sekera (4) and Nathan Gerbe left the Sabres after last season. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – At first, Nathan Gerbe said, he didn’t understand why the Sabres waived and bought him out in early July. The diminutive winger had no inkling they had given up on him after five seasons.

“I didn’t know it was coming, that’s for sure,” Gerbe said Thursday prior to the Carolina Hurricanes’ 5-3 win inside the First Niagara Center. “No one spoke to me about it. So I think you get a little shocked. But it’s a business and you …

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Tyler Myers can't play until next Tuesday. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – On Monday, hours before the NHL suspended Tyler Myers three games for an illegal check to Dainius Zubrus’ head, the Sabres defenseman said his hulking stature wouldn’t make him change his aggressive style.

“I don’t want to change my game just because of how tall I am,” the 6-foot-8 Myers said after the Sabres prepared for tonight’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes inside the First Niagara Center. “It’s just something that comes with the territory.”

Still, Myers better start exercising …

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Joel Armia saw plenty of action Thursday. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
2

BUFFALO – This wasn’t a three-minute YouTube package of European highlights or a summer development camp scrimmage. This was slick Sabres prospect Joel Armia finally skating in some NHL action.

The hype surrounding Armia has been building since the Sabres selected the Finnish winger 16th overall in 2011. Yet few fans had seen the 20-year-old, who spent the last three seasons playing at home in SM-liiga, up close prior to Thursday’s exhibition home opener, a 5-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes …

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