Training Camp Edition

Tyler Ennis only played 23 games last season. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – In the more than three months Tyler Ennis spent recovering from a concussion last season, the Sabres’ longest-tenured player learned he needed to approach what he calls a “pretty special job” differently.

“It makes you really not only appreciate what you got, but want to do better the next time,” Ennis said this morning inside KeyBank Center after veterans reported to training camp for physicals.

That’s probably one reason why Ennis, who’s generously listed at 5-foot-9, spent the summer packing …

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Evander Kane (9) fights Alex Petrovic last season. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Evander Kane sounded guarded. When the Sabres winger was asked about his turbulent summer, which included charges following an incident at a local bar, he offered only a short reply or deflected the question.

“I’m not going to say too much,” Kane said this morning inside KeyBank Center after veterans reported to training camp for physicals. “I’m here, I’m in camp.”

Kane, 25, said he has “always felt” he needs to walk the straight and narrow line.

“Obviously, these situations are …

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Zemgus Girgensons was all over the ice last season. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – The Sabres team that will convene today for training camp physicals, the official start of the 2016-17 season, isn’t much different from the one that just finished seventh in the Atlantic Division.

Sure, there were some notable summer additions. Winger Kyle Okposo, who signed a seven-year, $42 million contract July 1, was arguably the best free agent available. Dmitri Kulikov gives the Sabres a sturdy veteran to skate beside No. 1 defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen.

Still, more than anything, the Sabres …

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Richie Dunn was active in Sabres Alumni events. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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Richie Dunn, a popular defenseman who played 327 games over two stints with the Buffalo Sabres, has died, the team announced this morning. He was 59.

The undrafted Dunn played five seasons for the Sabres beginning in 1977-78 before moving to the Calgary Flames and Hartford Whalers. He returned to the Sabres organization in 1985, playing his final 47 NHL games over the next four years.

Mostly, however, Dunn starred for the Rochester Americans, winning a Calder Cup in 1986-87. The Massachusetts …

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Hudson Fasching had a hectic spring with hockey and school. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Rookie Hudson Fasching applied a hockey philosophy to his schoolwork when he returned to the University of Minnesota in April following a seven-game stint with the Sabres.

Fresh off his first NHL action, Fasching, 21, had two and a half weeks to complete the semester and his entrepreneurial management degree before leaving school to represent Team USA at the World Hockey Championship in St. Petersburg, Russia.

“I was like, ‘OK, I’m just going to grind it out here. I’ll be …

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Linus Ullmark had highs and lows as a rookie. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Almost a year ago, just months removed from double hip surgery, Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark roared into NHL, winning four of his first six starts.

By early November, some fans wanted Ullmark to be the Sabres’ new starter. By January, the rookie was back in the minors. By March, he couldn’t even win an AHL game, losing eight straight decisions.

“My first half of the season was good,” Ullmark said Sunday following a session of rookie camp. “Then the (second) …

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Giorgio Estephan scored 30 goals last season. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – The most prolific goal scorer among Sabres prospects last season wasn’t top pick Alexander Nylander, 83-point man Eric Cornel or even Justin Bailey, whose fine play earned him his first NHL action.

Try Giorgio Estephan, a 2015 sixth-round selection, 152nd overall, who scored 30 goals and 74 points in only 59 games for the Western Hockey League’s Lethbridge Hurricanes in 2015-16.

If you haven’t heard much about Estephan, that might change soon. The 6-foot, 197-pound center has quietly developed into …

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Nick Baptiste scored 13 goals last season. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Sabres prospect Nick Baptiste understands coming off consecutive 40-goal junior seasons, his rookie campaign with the Rochester Americans looks a bit underwhelming.

“Whenever you go from 40 goals to 13, it’s obviously a pretty steep decline,” Baptiste said Friday after rookie camp opened inside HarborCenter. “But it’s a different league. It’s pro hockey. You’re playing against 30-year-old men versus 18-year-old boys. It’s a lot different.”

For two years, Baptiste, 21, was quietly one of the Ontario Hockey League’s most lethal …

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Justin Bailey enjoyed a terrific rookie season. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Sure, it’s just rookie camp, four days reserved for Sabres prospects before training camp. By the end of the month, most of the youngsters participating will be back in junior or the minors.

But with young talent relied on so heavily these days, the battle for NHL jobs really begins today, when camp opens inside HarborCenter.

Five prospects – forwards Justin Bailey, Hudson Fasching and Evan Rodrigues and goalies Jason Kasdorf and Linus Ullmark – have already played for the …

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Tyson Strachan spent all of 2014-15 in Buffalo. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
By Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

Two years ago, when the Sabres signed Tyson Strachan to a two-way contract, the defenseman ended up staying in Buffalo the entire season, playing 46 games.

Strachan, 31, never made it to the minors. This year, however, he should see regular duty with the Rochester Americans, as they inked the veteran to a one-year AHL contract today.

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Strachan adds some much-needed depth to Buffalo’s top affiliate. Only 10 defensemen in the organization have NHL experience.

Other than a two-game recall …

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