Free Agency Approaching

Tim Murray could have a busy summer ahead of him. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
2

BUFFALO – In his two and a half years as general manager, Tim Murray has developed a well-deserved reputation for wheeling and dealing to rebuild the Sabres, a team the previous regime gutted into a laughingstock.

So it’s only natural to assume Murray, who has the Sabres positioned to contend for their first playoff spot since 2011, will be active again at the NHL Draft his team is hosting this weekend, starting with tonight’s first round.

The Sabres improved 27 points last …

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Pierre-Luc Dubois should be picked early tonight. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Once ultra-talented forwards Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi are nabbed early tonight, the NHL Draft might really get interesting.

Sure, after the Toronto Maple Leafs select Matthews, there’s speculation the Winnipeg Jets could pass on Laine, the presumptive No. 2 pick, and go for Puljujarvi, another Finn, leaving Laine for the Columbus Blue Jackets. But those three players will almost certainly go first.

What could happen next on the First Niagara Center floor is unclear. In past years, …

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Bobs Woods coached with Anaheim before going to junior hockey. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Sabres coach Dan Bylsma filled one of the openings on his staff today, hiring Bob Woods as an assistant.

Woods, 48, just spent two seasons as the coach and general manager of the junior Saskatoon Blades, a Western Hockey League club. Prior to that, he was as an NHL assistant under Bruce Boudreau for six years in Washington and Anaheim.

Before his NHL run, Woods coached with the AHL Hershey Bears for five years, including a year and a half …

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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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Olli Juolevi will be picked early Friday. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Ask Olli Juolevi a question about his talents, and the London Knights defenseman’s response might surprise you.

In an age in which elite athletes are often taught to give vague, vanilla answers, Juolevi has no problem saying what he really feels.

For example, Juolevi, even though he has some stiff competition from Jakob Chychrun and Mikhail Sergachev, recently said he expects to be the first defenseman chosen in Friday’s NHL Draft the Sabres are hosting inside the First Niagara Center.

What …

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Auston Matthews gave up baseball about five years ago. ©2016, Margaret Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Had Auston Matthews kept playing baseball, perhaps the presumptive No. 1 overall pick by the Toronto Maple Leafs in Friday’s NHL Draft could have enjoyed a different career.

“I was a pretty tall kid,” Matthews said this afternoon after taking batting practice at Coca-Cola Field prior to the Bisons game. “I guess you never know.”

Matthews’ father, Brian, pitched collegiately before an injury ended his career, so he comes from a baseball family. Still, even growing up in Arizona, hockey …

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Tim Murray has already been active this offseason. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

BUFFALO – If Tim Murray wants to lure winger Jimmy Vesey to the Sabres, the general manager has a strong recruiter in center Jack Eichel, who’s currently playing summer hockey with the Hobey Baker Award winner in their native Massachusetts.

Eichel, of course, is one of the NHL’s supreme young talents, and, months before his 20th birthday, already a terrific ambassador for the Sabres and the city.

Failing to utilize Eichel might be foolish.

“We might potentially use Jack as a tool,” Murray …

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Auston Matthews should visit Buffalo with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Nov. 3. ©2016, Margaret Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – After the Sabres open their season Oct. 13 at home against the Montreal Canadiens, they start a four-game road trip – longer than any swing they had last season – three days later against Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers.

That’s just one notable stretch of the 82-game 2016-17 schedule the NHL released Tuesday.

The Sabres, who went 19-17-5 on the road last season, better get comfortable playing away from the First Niagara Center early, as eight of their first …

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Jack Eichel and the Sabres open the season Oct. 13. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – After the Sabres open their season Oct. 13 at home against the Montreal Canadiens, they start a four-game road trip – longer than any swing they had last season – three days later against Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers.

That’s just one notable stretch of the 82-game 2016-17 schedule the NHL released this afternoon.

The Sabres, who went 19-17-5 on the road last season, better get comfortable playing away from the First Niagara Center early, as eight of their …

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Tim Murray talks this morning. ©2016, Margaret Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – If Tim Murray wants to lure winger Jimmy Vesey to the Sabres, the general manager has a strong recruiter in center Jack Eichel, who’s currently playing summer hockey with the Hobey Baker Award winner in their native Massachusetts.

“We might potentially use Jack as a tool,” Murray said this morning, less than a day after acquiring Vesey’s rights from the Nashville Predators. “I guess I would be a tool not to.”

The Sabres traded a 2016 third-round pick, 76th overall, …

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