Draft Day

Archive:
Ullmark

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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Linus Ullmark struggled late in the season in Rochester. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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ROCHESTER – In the midst of a nine-game AHL winless stretch in which Buffalo Sabres prospect Linus Ullmark allowed 37 goals, the rookie goalie received a much-needed confidence boost.

When a bruised finger prevented goalie Chad Johnson from playing April 9, the Sabres recalled the struggling Swede from the Americans hours before their season finale against the New York Islanders.

In his first NHL start since Jan. 12, Ullmark helped the Sabres win 4-3 in overtime. The victory, Ullmark’s only win at …

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Matt Ellis will have options if he retires. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

ROCHESTER – Physically, Matt Ellis said, he hasn’t felt this good in four or five years. At 34 years old, having just finished his 14th pro season, the popular former Buffalo Sabres forward believes he could keep playing.

“I definitely feel like I got lots left in the tank,” Ellis said Thursday inside the Blue Cross War Memorial.

Still, Ellis understands he could be nearing retirement. This season, his first out of the NHL in 10 years, he played only 56 times …

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Andrey Makarov became a spare part late this season. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
4

ROCHESTER – It rarely happens. In fact, it might have been a first. Five days after posting a 30-save shutout, the Americans scratched a healthy Andrey Makarov for their next game, Friday’s 5-0 loss to Albany.

Top Buffalo Sabres goalie prospect Linus Ullmark started the home finale. Nathan Lieuwen, just back from his three-week NHL stint, backed up the Swede.

The loquacious Makarov, 22, watched from the stands wearing a suit.

Two years ago, Makarov was developing into the Buffalo Sabres’ best young …

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Chad Johnson talks Sunday. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

BUFFALO – Chad Johnson often talks about his desire to be a starting goalie, so not surprisingly, the Sabres veteran has already examined the jobs that could be open when he hits unrestricted free agency July 1.

“It’s hard not to,” Johnson said Sunday as the Sabres held their end-of-season meetings. “I try to stay as in the moment (as possible). I’m not going say which teams, but there’s four teams that need goaltenders or starting goaltenders or don’t have guys …

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Robin Lehner recently underwent ankle surgery. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Sabres goalie Robin Lehner knew his pain threshold would be tested when he returned in mid-January from the high right ankle sprain he suffered opening night.

“Since that day it’s been pain, it’s been swelling after every practice, every game,” Lehner said Sunday as the Sabres held their end-of-season meetings inside the First Niagara Center.

After missing more than three months, Lehner started 20 times, often performing like the No. 1 goalie the Sabres sorely wanted. Still, his tender ankle …

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Jack Eichel wants to rest a bit this offseason.©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – When center Ryan O’Reilly joined his new teammates seven months ago, the stench leftover from consecutive 30th-place finishes – the culture of losing, you might call it – still surrounded the Sabres.

“I think you could sense it a bit, for sure,” O’Reilly said this morning as the Sabres held their end-of-season meetings inside the First Niagara Center. “I think there’s a lot of habits, when you look at winning teams, they do that make them successful. I think …

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Ryan O'Reilly was named team MVP Friday. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – In his first season as coach, Dan Bylsma has experienced so much excitement surrounding the Sabres he wonders how crazy it would feel if his team becomes a contender again.

The Sabres, of course, will miss the playoffs for the fifth straight season. Still, to a rabid fan base yearning for postseason hockey, the progress the Sabres have made this season – they’ve improved 25 points with newcomers Jack Eichel, Ryan O’Reilly and others – offers strong hope for …

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Chad Johnson has won seven of his last eight starts. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

BUFFALO – Having traveled around the NHL in a secondary role for years, Sabres goalie Chad Johnson usually gets pegged as a career backup.

Johnson, after all, is just months away from turning 30 years old. Goalies usually grab the No. 1 job by their mid-20s. The Calgary native has played for five teams, including four in the last three years. He had never played more than 27 games in a season before this year.

But in just his third full campaign, …

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Sabres goalie Chad Johnson stops Ottawa's Bobby Ryan on Friday. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – In the span of six months, Sabres goalie Chad Johnson has been a backup, a starter, part of a platoon with rookie Linus Ullmark and a backup again.

For this weekend at least, with Robin Lehner sidelined, Johnson is the Sabres’ top netminder again.

Johnson started Friday’s 3-1 win over the Ottawa Senators inside the First Niagara Center, his fifth straight victory, and will get another nod tonight in Toronto against the Maple Leafs, Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said.

Lehner could …

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