Brian Gionta retired Monday. ©2018, Hickling Images

Former Sabres captain Brian Gionta helped change hockey

BUFFALO – Twenty years ago, diminutive players like Brian Gionta – the ones teams list at, say, 5-foot-9 but are clearly much smaller – rarely received a chance in the NHL.

Sure, once in a while an undersized talent would break through. But for the most part, the league coveted size.

Then in the early 2000s, a few small forwards – Gionta, Daniel Briere and Martin St. Louis – started seizing their chances and morphing ... Read the full article

Zach Bogosian sat out practice earlier this week. ©2018, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres notes: Zach Bogosian being eased along after hip surgery

BUFFALO – The Sabres have a plan for Zach Bogosian. Instead of throwing the oft-injured defenseman right into the fray, they’re easing him into training camp.

Bogosian, 28, underwent hip surgery last winter and hasn’t played a game Jan. 9. So the Sabres held him out of practice earlier this week before letting him skate on his own.

Bogosian practiced with his teammates again Thursday inside HarborCenter.... Read the full article

Sean Malone looked impressive early in training camp. ©2018, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres forwards Conor Sheary, Sean Malone out with injuries

BUFFALO – Sabres winger Conor Sheary, a newcomer expected to skate on a top line, is week-to-week after suffering an upper-body injury during Friday’s practice.

“In the first day (of training camp), he took a hit the wrong way, and we’re just making sure we’re on top of that,” said Sabres coach Phil Housley, who is dealing with three notable injuries just five days into camp.

Center Sean Malone will miss six weeks after ... Read the full article

Johan Larsson is one of the longest-tenured Sabres. ©2018, Hickling Images

Poor season forced Sabres’ Johan Larsson to change

BUFFALO – Instead of talking about Johan Larsson’s rough season, Sabres coach Phil Housley chose to praise the Swedish center for the transformations he has made.

Larsson struggled mightily in 2017-18, enduring his worst NHL campaign. How bad was he? His wretched minus-30 was the fourth-worst rating among NHL forwards. He scored two of his career-low four goals into empty nets.

But Larsson, 26, accepted Housley and general manager Jason Botterill’s challenge to change ... Read the full article

Zach Bogosian is one of the longest-tenured Sabres. ©2018, Hickling Images

Sabres feel change, excitement as new season opens

BUFFALO – The open communication among the Sabres and the accountability it has generated is new and welcome.

In the recent past, problems often festered and the Sabres usually imploded at the first hint of adversity. Some players clearly felt uncomfortable discussing any issues with each other.

Then following last season’s dreadful 31st-place finish, coach Phil Housley challenged the Sabres. He wanted self-reflection. He wanted them to change before the new season, which kicked off ... Read the full article

Jeff Skinner has scored 30 goals three times. ©2018, Hickling Images

Jeff Skinner acquisition shows Sabres believe they can win now

Before Thursday’s acquisition of slick winger Jeff Skinner, so many of the Buffalo Sabres’ trades throughout their seemingly endless rebuild focused on the future. Deals would often net them prospects or draft picks, a sign winning wasn’t imminent.

But Sabres general manager Jason Botterill made a different swap to nab the three-time 30-goal scorer from the Carolina Hurricanes. For one of the few times in recent years, the Sabres dealt futures for a proven commodity.... Read the full article

Jeff Skinner offers the Sabres more scoring. ©2018, Hickling Images

Sabres acquire Jeff Skinner from Hurricanes

The Buffalo Sabres pulled off a rare August trade early tonight, acquiring three-time 30-goal scorer Jeff Skinner from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for forward prospect Cliff Pu, a second-round pick in 2019 and third- and sixth-round selections in 2020.

The trade for Skinner, who’s entering the final season of his contract, gives the Sabres another proven scorer at wing. The Sabres, the NHL’s lowest-scoring team last season, needed to replace the offense they lost ... Read the full article

Ryan O'Reilly was due a big bonus Sunday. ©2018, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres notes: Ryan O’Reilly’s price likely going up

BUFFALO – If the Sabres pay Ryan O’Reilly his $7.5 million bonus by midnight, the dynamic of any potential trade for the center would change, general manager Jason Botterill said.

Speaking earlier in the day on a conference call, Botterill explained based on his conversations with other teams, paying the money would mean the Sabres have a new asking price.... Read the full article

Matej Pekar likes to agitate opponents. ©2018, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres prospects Matej Pekar, Casey Mittelstadt battle on ice

BUFFALO – After Matej Pekar hit Casey Mittelstadt in the head during Saturday’s three-on-three development camp tournament, the agitator sensed an opportunity.

“That’s my shot to kind of piss him off, get in his head and try to win the game for the team,” Pekar said after camp ended inside HarborCenter. “I guess it worked out.”

Pekar, the 94th overall pick a week ago, kept going after Mittelstadt, irking the Sabres’ top forward prospect. The ... Read the full article

Conor Sheary thinks he can help the Sabres. ©2018, Hickling Images

Conor Sheary sees fit with Sabres

BUFFALO – In adding Conor Sheary from the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Sabres filled a glaring hole in their lineup. The bottom-feeding club sorely needed a speedy winger capable of scoring goals, especially at five-on-five.

The Sabres now have a left winger they can utilize beside top center Jack Eichel. Having scored only four of his 48 NHL goals on the power play, Sheary owns a track record of producing offense at even strength.... Read the full article