It’s over

Archive:
Vanek

The Sabres could draft Sam Reinhart this June. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Chalk up one more loss for the Sabres this season.

The rebuilding club couldn’t retain the No. 1 overall pick during Tuesday’s NHL Draft Lottery in Toronto. Instead, the Florida Panthers moved up one spot to the top selection.

The Sabres will pick second in June. Thanks to their 30th ranking this season, the Sabres had a 25 percent chance of keeping the top pick, more than any other team. The Panthers had an 18.8 percent chance.

Earlier Tuesday, Sabres general …

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Nathan Lieuwen made his NHL debut on Sunday. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – A day after his surprising NHL debut, everything had settled down a bit for Sabres rookie Nathan Lieuwen.

Lieuwen said his body felt OK after playing three games in three days, a rarity for a goalie. He even remembered some of the action he faced Sunday. Memories were a blur following his 22-minute, 10-save relief appearance in the Sabres’ 2-0 loss to Montreal.

“I could remember a few more things this morning,” a smiling Lieuwen said Monday inside the First …

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Nathan Lieuwen watches the play Sunday. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Fresh off two weekend appearances with Rochester, goalie Nathan Lieuwen learned early Sunday he had earned his first recall to the Sabres.

Newcomer Michal Neuvirth was injured, so the 22-year-old would be backing up Jhonas Enroth inside the First Niagara Center.

“I was shocked. I was nervous. Everything,” a smiling Lieuwen said after stopping all 10 shots he faced in his NHL debut, a 2-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens. “I couldn’t stop smiling all morning.”

Lieuwen wasn’t expecting to play. …

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Thomas Vanek played his first game back in Buffalo on Sunday. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Back in the summer, Thomas Vanek had a simple, straightforward question for the Sabres. The slick winger wanted to know what direction the team was going.

“No one really had an answer,” Vanek said Sunday prior to the Montreal Canadiens’ 2-0 win against Sabres, his first game back here. “That’s when I kind of made up my mind July 1 (unrestricted free agency) was probably a goal of mine.”

The Sabres, of course, traded Vanek, their co-captain, to the New …

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Nathan Lieuwen will dress tonight. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Former Sabres star Thomas Vanek couldn’t quite explain what he felt walking into the First Niagara Center for the first time as an opponent this afternoon.

“It was actually a different feeling, for sure,” said Vanek, now a member of the Montreal Canadiens. “It’s just I can’t explain it. I felt pretty good all day. As soon as I walked in here I started to get a little of the jitter.”

Vanek, an unrestricted free agent following the season, hasn’t …

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Cory Conacher was never drafted and played in the ECHL briefly. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – There was no straight path to the NHL for Cory Conacher. About 10 years ago, after the AAA Burlington Cougars cut him, the diminutive Sabres winger figured his hockey career was over.

“You always run into a certain coach that just doesn’t like your physical stature,” Conacher recalled Friday, “and that’s kind of I think what happened.”

But the 5-foot-8 Conacher had a chip on his shoulder that would help buoy him to the NHL.

“I like proving people wrong,” he …

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Steve Ott (9) will be an unrestricted free agent following the season. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
2

BUFFALO – The hospitality Steve Ott and his family have experienced from the community has been incredible, the captain said. Win or lose, the locals still love their Sabres.

Of course, the Sabres have done a lot of losing during Ott’s first year here.

The warm welcome and the struggles have left Ott imagining the Sabres’ resurgence. Right now, they’re rebuilding, still the NHL’s worst team.

But the 31-year-old, an unrestricted free agent following the season, wants to stick around.

“I can only imagine …

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Matt Moulson will be an unrestricted free agent following the season. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
5

BUFFALO – Thirty games into what could be a very short Sabres career, Matt Moulson said he’s given a lot of thought to a future he can’t control yet.

The winger, quietly one of the NHL’s top goal scorers for years, would be coveted as an unrestricted free agent this summer. But before that, if the Sabres want to deal the 30-year-old, he’d be in high demand as a rental prior to the March 5 trade deadline.

Moulson said he can’t worry …

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Drew Stafford (left) and Cody Hodgson celebrate the Sabres' only goal Sunday. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Just under eight minutes into the Sabres’ 3-1 loss Sunday, winger Drew Stafford created one of the struggling team’s few highlight-reel goals this season by stealing the puck from Detroit’s Darren Helm above the left circle and dishing to an open Cody Hodgson in the slot.

The center then waited for Jonas Gustavsson to go down before tucking the puck past the outstretched goalie.

It was only the Sabres’ 41st goal in their 25th game. That’s a paltry 1.6 per …

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Luke Adam is one of the AHL's top scorers this season. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
3

BRIGHTON – Whatever’s going on with the Buffalo Sabres right now, well, Luke Adam doesn’t care about it. Whatever general manager Darcy Regier or coach Ron Rolston are saying, the 23-year-old Rochester Americans winger isn’t worried about it.

“I’m not focused on what the Sabres are doing,” Adam said Tuesday inside Bill Gray’s Iceplex. “Frankly, I don’t care what’s going on up there, what people are saying or how everything’s going.”

Adam, whose scorching eight-goal, 12-point start has made him one of …

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