The Eichel Era

Archive:
Vanek

Jack Eichel (15) fends off Minnesota's Marco Scandella on Saturday afternoon. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Finally, thanks to rookie Jack Eichel’s score, it appeared the Sabres’ first shootout goal in months would help them eke out a win after blowing a late lead against the Minnesota Wild.

Eichel, just 66 games into his career, already has a commanding on-ice presence. His exploits create excitement and momentum, and his first NHL shootout goal in four tries had the capacity crowd of 19,070 fans inside the First Niagara Center buzzing Saturday afternoon.

Still, it wasn’t enough to …

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Thomas Vanek has 18 goals this season. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

BUFFALO – The upcoming World Cup of Hockey will be a much different international experience for veteran Thomas Vanek, a two-time 40-goal scorer with the Sabres.

Instead of hoping Austria can simply win a game to stay in the ‘A’ pool, the Minnesota Wild winger has a roster spot on Team Europe, a collection of top talent from seven countries.

“For me, it’s cool because actually I can go into one of those tournaments and compete at the (highest) level,” Vanek said …

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Sam Reinhart (23) celebrates his first-period goal Sunday afternoon. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Many days, long after most of their Sabres teammates have finished practicing, center Ryan O’Reilly and winger Sam Reinhart stay on the ice and work on tip drills.

O’Reilly, an adroit passer, has probably fed Reinhart thousands of pucks this season, helping the rookie quickly morph into a supreme net-front presence.

The chemistry they’ve quickly developed was on display 17:14 into the Sabres’ 4-1 win Sunday afternoon against the Colorado Avalanche, when Reinhart redirected O’Reilly’s long slap pass from the …

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Jean Dupuy already has 10 points with Rochester. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
2

ROCHESTER – The biggest early-season surprise on the farm hasn’t been Justin Bailey, Nick Baptiste or Evan Rodrigues – three talented AHL rookie forwards many believe will play for the Buffalo Sabres someday.

While the prospects have contributed to the Americans at times, another first-year pro has outplayed them all. Remember this name: Jean Dupuy.

Who? Just 23 games into his career, Dupuy, an undrafted center from the Ontario Hockey League’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, looks like he could have a future …

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Rasmus Ristolainen already has seven goals. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

As I wrote a week ago, before he scored the first hat trick by a Buffalo Sabres defenseman in almost 28 years, Rasmus Ristolainen is quickly becoming a star.

Ristolainen, 21, might be the Sabres’ best player. With three third-period goals Thursday in Calgary in the Sabres’ 4-3 loss to the Flames, he already has 21 points in 29 games, one more point than he compiled last season in 49 fewer games.

“He stepped up in a big way,” Sabres coach Dan …

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Lindy Ruff's Stars lead the NHL with 15 wins. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – A scorching start buoyed by the NHL’s best offense. Young superstar talent. Terrific depth.

When did the Dallas Stars’ Lindy Ruff have all that before? Nine years ago, when Ruff coached a slick young Sabres team to the 2006-07 Eastern Conference final following a 113-point regular season.

Back then, Ruff had a stacked club led by co-captains Daniel Briere and Chris Drury and young talent like Brian Campbell, Ryan Miller, Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek.

These days, Ruff has reigning scoring …

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Randy Cunneyworth talks Wednesday. ©2015, Micheline Veluvolu, Rochester Americans
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
4

ROCHESTER – For three years, wherever Randy Cunneyworth went, he was asked the same question.

“I don’t think there was a person I came across that didn’t mention, ‘Are you going to get back into coaching or not?’” Cunneyworth recalled Wednesday after being introduced as the Rochester Americans’ new coach inside the Blue Cross War Memorial.

Cunneyworth enjoyed his player development job with the Buffalo Sabres – “I’m into whatever I’m doing,” he said – but coaching was “always prevalent on my …

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Randy Cunneyworth was Montreal's interim coach for 50 games in 2011-12. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
2

BUFFALO – As the summer dragged on and the Rochester Americans’ coaching job remained open, one name kept popping up in rumors: Randy Cunneyworth, who had coached the Sabres’ AHL affiliate for eight seasons before moving up to the NHL.

Cunneyworth appeared to be the logical choice. The 54-year-old, a noted talent developer, was already a special assistant and a player development coach with the Amerks. He’s familiar with Buffalo’s prospects and the organization.

Sure enough, the Sabres general manager Tim Murray …

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Ryan O'Reilly's contract kicks in for 2016-17. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – That didn’t take long. A week after the Sabres acquired Ryan O’Reilly in a blockbuster trade with the Colorado Avalanche, they locked up their new No. 1 center with a max deal Friday, a whopping seven-year, $52.5 million contract extension.

It’s the biggest contract in franchise history, surpassing the seven-year, $50 million deal the Sabres gave winger Thomas Vanek in 2007 when they matched the Edmonton Oilers’ offer sheet.

The contract has a creative breakdown. According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, …

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Picking Jack Eichel will be the easy part for Tim Murray. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
2

BUFFALO – Tim Murray has joked he’ll make the easiest decision of his career before he walks to the NHL Draft podium Friday night inside the BB&T Center and, in his typical straightforward delivery, utters six words into the microphone: “The Buffalo Sabres select Jack Eichel.”

But after securing a potentially franchise-changing talent, the general manager might have an arduous two days ahead of him in Sunrise, Fla.

The Sabres have eight picks – 2, 21, 31, 51, 92, 122, 152, and …

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