Best wishes to RJ

Tyler Ennis will earn $23 million over five years. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
3

BUFFALO – If the Sabres couldn’t sign Tyler Ennis to a long-term deal, they would’ve given the slick center a one-year qualifying offer, general manager Tim Murray said this afternoon.

Ennis, a restricted free agent, inked a five-year, $23 million contract Thursday.

“It certainly wasn’t straightforward,” Murray said about getting the deal done.

Still, Murray believes “both sides were on the same page.”

“It was just how you got there,” he said inside the First Niagara Center.

Ennis just finished a two-year contract.

Right now, Ennis, …

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Sam Reinhart skates during today's three-on-three tournament. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – While no announcement is imminent, Sabres coach Ted Nolan is close to hiring some assistant coaches, general manager Tim Murray said.

“He’s talking to certain individuals, and he’s at a point where he’s talking contract with a couple individuals,” Murray said this afternoon inside the First Niagara Center. “Now, whether the money and term suits them, I don’t know that. We’re not there yet.”

Following the season, the Sabres fired or reassigned the coaches Nolan inherited.

In other news, top prospect …

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Tyler Ennis is the Sabres' No. 1 center. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – The five-year, $23 million commitment illustrates the Sabres’ strong belief in Tyler Ennis, their leading goal scorer and No. 1 center.

At 24 years old, the 5-foot-9 speedster has become a cornerstone for the rebuilding club.

The likable Ennis signed the new deal worth $4.6 million annually Thursday, becoming the Sabres’ third-highest cap hit behind defenseman Tyler Myers ($5.5 million) and winger Matt Moulson ($5 million).

Clearly, the Sabres believe Ennis will keep growing. He had a career-high 21 goals in …

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Maxwell Willman played high school hockey in Cape Cod. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Before development camp started this week, Chadd Cassidy knew nothing about Maxwell Willman. Heck, very few had heard of the winger until the Sabres drafted him 121st overall last month.

Willman mostly went unnoticed playing at Barnstable High School in Hyannis, Mass., a popular tourist town in Cape Cod. He nearly left the game to attend Quinnipiac University as a regular student. But Willman transformed himself into a prospect last year playing at Williston Northampton, a prep school in …

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Sam Reinhart should be ready for Friday's session. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Relax, Sabres fans. Sam Reinhart should be ready for Friday’s three-on-three tournament. The top prospect simply enjoyed a maintenance day from development camp today, a team spokesman said.

No reason was given.

The 18-year-old center, the second overall pick last month, took some hits during Tuesday’s scrimmage. The prospects stayed off the ice for team-building activities Wednesday.

The Sabres had power-skating drills today inside the First Niagara Center. Development camp ends Friday.

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Tyler Ennis had 21 goals last season. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – The Sabres officially announced slick center Tyler Ennis’ new contract this morning.

It’s a five-year, $23 million deal, according to multiple reports.

Ennis, the Sabres’ last notable restricted free agent, had a team-high 21 goals in 80 games last season. The 24-year-old has 69 goals and 166 points in 267 NHL games since 2009-10.

At $4.6 million a season, Ennis is the Sabres’ third-highest paid player behind defenseman Tyler Myers ($5.5 million) and winger Matt Moulson ($5 million).

Related: Instinctive game allows …

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The Sabres acquired Hudson Fasching in March. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
4

BUFFALO – NHL teams kept asking Hudson Fasching the same question during pre-draft interviews last year. Each time, the Sabres prospect gave them a weak answer.

“A lot of teams were saying, ‘What kind of role are you?’” the winger recalled Monday following the first session of development camp inside the First Niagara Center. “I wasn’t really sure. They were like, ‘Come on, you need to pick a role.’”

Shortly after the talks, the Los Angeles Kings picked the 6-foot-2, 212-pound Fasching …

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Tyler Ennis had a team-high 21 goals last season. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – The Sabres are close to signing leading scorer Tyler Ennis to a five-year contract worth around $23 million, according to the NHL Network’s Kevin Weekes.

The deal has an average annual value of $4.6 million, according to Weekes.

Ennis, the Sabres’ last notable restricted free agent, had 21 goals and 43 points in 80 games last season. The center has 69 goals and 166 points in 267 NHL games since 2009-10.

The 24-year-old would become the Sabres’ third-highest paid player behind …

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Rasmus Ristolainen (right) battles Brean Lemieux during Tuesday's scrimmage. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

BUFFALO – While other Sabres prospects have packed on weight this summer, defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen has “lost a couple pounds.”

“Fat, not any muscles,” the 19-year-old Finn said following Tuesday’s development camp scrimmage inside the First Niagara Center.

The 6-foot-4, 207-pound Ristolainen showcased some muscle early in the contest, hitting top prospect Sam Reinhart.

“I don’t watch who I’m hitting,” Ristolainen said. “If I get a chance, I hit. That’s all.”

Later on, Ristolainen and agitating winger Brendan Lemieux jawed at the end of …

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Justin Kea and Anthony Florentino fight Tuesday. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Early in Tuesday’s Blue-White Sabres scrimmage, defenseman Anthony Florentino, who has a penchant for hitting, leveled forward Justin Kea inside the First Niagara Center.

In the second period, the prospects fought.

“Everybody’s got their niche in the game,” Rochester coach Chadd Cassidy, who’s running the camp, said about the fight. “They got to find a way to kind of get noticed. I think if there’s one thing we’ve preached to the guys, it’s play your game and play it like …

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