Free agency time

Ryan O'Reilly spent six seasons in Colorado. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Sabres center Ryan O’Reilly’s ready to tackle a new challenge. During his first six NHL seasons, the 24-year-old wasn’t viewed as one of the Avalanche’s leaders. Colorado stars Matt Duchesne, Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon often overshadowed him.

But O’Reilly, acquired in a blockbuster deal Friday at the NHL Draft, will have a new role next season. The Sabres want him to be one of the guys to shepherd a team filled with youngsters.

“I think it’s going to be …

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Cody Hodgson struggled throughout 2014-15. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
2

BUFFALO – Cody Hodgson’s Sabres career is over.

The team put the struggling winger on unconditional waivers today, meaning the final four seasons of his six-year, $25.5 million contract will be bought out for one-third the remaining value.

The 25-year-old endured perhaps the worst year of any NHL forward in 2014-15, mustering only six goals and 13 points in 78 games, a stunning 14-goal, 31-point drop in six more appearances.

Hodgson scored one goal in a 47-game stretch from Oct. 28 to Feb. …

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Arturs Irbe spent one season in Buffalo. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Goalie coach Arturs Irbe won’t return for a second season with the Sabres, new coach Dan Bylsma told WGR this morning.

Bylsma said he talked to some potential coaches at the NHL Draft over the weekend and one could be hired in the next week.

The loquacious Irbe was the only coach Sabres general manager Tim Murray retained after firing former coach Ted Nolan on April 12. Murray said then he would leave Irbe’s future up to the new coach.

The …

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Devante Stephens was drafted in the fifth round. ©2015, Margaret Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
3

SUNRISE, Fla. – For a few days during his year away from the NHL, Buffalo Sabres coach Dan Bylsma helped out a former teammate, Kelowna Rockets coach Dan Lambert, and ran some practices for the Western Hockey League team.

At least one youngster, Devante Stephens, a 6-foot-1, 171-pound defenseman the Sabres drafted in the fifth round, 155th overall on Saturday, caught his eye. Bylsma didn’t know it then, but Buffalo had a strong interest in the 18-year-old.

Stephens sat out early last …

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Tim Murray talks to the media Saturday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
4

SUNRISE, Fla. – Tim Murray isn’t one for reflection. The gruff Buffalo Sabres general manager usually focuses on one task before quickly moving to the next one.

But at some point today, after an arduous NHL Draft weekend in which he added major assets, Murray will hop on a plane home to Buffalo and feel a sense of satisfaction.

Murray enjoyed arguably the best two days of any GM by drafting future cornerstone Jack Eichel second overall, acquiring coveted center Ryan O’Reilly …

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Joe Cecconi couldn't hide his excitement Saturday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

SUNRISE, Fla. – Youngstown native Joe Cecconi said he started getting “a little bit scared” as the NHL Draft wore on Saturday. The defense prospect still hadn’t been picked almost halfway through the fifth round.

“I was like something might not happen, I might not get chosen,” a smiling Cecconi said after the Dallas Stars selected him 133rd overall inside the BB&T Center. “But seeing Dallas was up and they called my name, the dream has started.”

Cecconi, who spent last season …

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Brendan Guhle enjoyed his visit to Buffalo. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

SUNRISE, Fla. – Brendan Guhle left the NHL Scouting Combine earlier this month in Buffalo feeling good about his future. The defenseman had some impressive pre-draft workouts and felt he interviewed well with the Sabres. He also enjoyed seeing sights around the city during his brief stay.

The 6-foot-1, 184-pound Guhle left Buffalo feeling good about his chances of returning.

Lucky for him, he’ll be visiting again real soon. The Sabres selected the 17-year-old in the second round, 51st overall, with their …

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Dan Bylmsa was all smiles this morning.©2015, Margaret Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

SUNRISE, Fla. – Coach Dan Bylsma and general manager Tim Murray disagree over how much the Buffalo Sabres improved in about a whirlwind nine-hour span Friday.

Murray, in keeping with his personality, would only say the Sabres got a little bit better.

“I said, ‘Tim, I think we got more than a little bit better,’” Bylsma said this morning at the NHL Draft inside the BB&T Center. “He said, ‘No, we just got a little bit better.’ That’s certainly true. From the …

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Jack Eichel said Friday was emotional. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
1

SUNRISE, Fla. – For more than two months, Jack Eichel wouldn’t say much about his future. Of course, the 18-year-old knew the Buffalo Sabres would select him second overall at the NHL Draft. But the Boston University superstar played it cool, saying things like “if the Sabres draft him.”

But deep down, Eichel had a special feeling about the Sabres. He felt a warm welcome from the community and fans when the Sabres hosted the NHL Combine earlier this month.

So when …

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Ryan O'Reilly might get a new contract soon. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
2

SUNRISE, Fla. – If the Buffalo Sabres win the Stanley Cup someday, remember Friday as the perhaps one of the most pivotal days in the franchise’s 45-year history.

In addition to drafting center Jack Eichel second overall, the rebuilding team swung two significant trades, including a blockbuster deal with the Colorado Avalanche that brought center Ryan O’Reilly to Buffalo.

After two wretched seasons in which they finished 30th and became the NHL’s laughingstock, the Sabres sent a strong message to the rest …

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