Zemgus Girgensons is beginning his ninth season. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres coach Don Granato excited to name new alternate captains

BUFFALO – In naming wingers Zemgus Girgensons and Kyle Okposo alternate captains, coach Don Granato did more than choose the Sabres’ longest-tenured players.

Granato wanted two veterans who possess the ability to make everyone around them better.

“They’re confident within their role in the NHL,” Granato said following Tuesday’s practice inside KeyBank Center. “I mean, what’s coming at them, they have a great sense of objective, and because of that, their confidence. And they have ... Read the full article

JJ Peterka scored three goals in five preseason games. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres prospect JJ Peterka makes strong case to stick in NHL

BUFFALO – If the Sabres assign rookie JJ Peterka to the minors this week, his stint with the Rochester Americans could be short. The German arrived here last month nearly an NHL-ready prospect, having spent two seasons playing pro hockey against men.

Sabres coach Don Granato has watched Peterka, who scored in Saturday afternoon’s 3-1 preseason win over the Detroit Red Wings, acclimate quickly to North American hockey.

“He absorbs what’s in front of him, ... Read the full article

Zemgus Girgensons also played in the 2014 Olympics. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres notes: Zemgus Girgensons thrilled to represent Latvia at Olympics

BUFFALO – When Sabres center Zemgus Girgensons represented Latvia in an Olympic-qualifying tournament late in the summer, NHL players hadn’t committed to participating in the 2022 Beijing Games.

“But I still decided to go over and compete in the qualification because even if I wasn’t going, what it means to other players back home to go is a big thing,” said Girgensons, who played for Latvia in the 2014 Sochi Games, the last time the ... Read the full article

Injuries limited Kyle Okposo to only 35 games last season. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Kyle Okposo vows youthful Sabres will be enthusiastic, full of belief

BUFFALO – During Thursday’s 90-minute practice, some Sabres raised their voices and told coach Don Granato to put away his whistle. They wanted to keep the drill going.

“You’re about to blow the whistle, and they want one more rep, one more rep,” Granato said inside KeyBank Center.

To Granato, his players’ enthusiasm two weeks into training camp reassures him he and his staff are giving them what they need and want.

This camp, the ... Read the full article

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen played two preseason games. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres notes: Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen enjoyed ‘great’ training camp

BUFFALO – On the surface, goalie prospect Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen’s preseason looks disappointing. Instead of forcing the Sabres to keep him, they demoted the Finn to the minors 10 days before opening night.

Luukkonen, 22, compiled a 0-2-0 record in two starts, allowing five goals in each game.

Still, coach Don Granato said Luukkonen, one of seven players the Sabres sent to the Rochester Americans on Tuesday, enjoyed “a great camp.”

“In a progressive way,” Granato ... Read the full article

Tage Thompson played center Monday. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres’ Tage Thompson working to unleash ‘incredible potential’

BUFFALO – Over his 145-game NHL career, Sabres forward Tage Thompson has only showcased glimpses of what coach Don Granato called his “incredible potential.”

“Which is different than actual potential,” Granato said prior to Monday’s 5-3 preseason loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. “He can do things in moments but we need him to sustain more and to do it more consistently.”

Thompson, 23, has enjoyed little consistency over his three years here, often getting ... Read the full article

Vinnie Hinostroza scored a career-high 16 goals in 2018-19. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Don Granato’s honesty helped Vinnie Hinstroza choose Sabres

BUFFALO – When Don Granato hung up the phone that day in July, he believed Vinnie Hinostroza wouldn’t be excited about the opportunities the Sabres could offer him.

Granato refuses to oversell players. He was blunt with Hinostroza, a winger he coached with the Chicago Blackhawks, and challenged him. He told him he couldn’t make any promises and earning ice time wouldn’t be easy.

But Granato’s transparency turned out to be a big selling point. ... Read the full article

Victor Olofsson might be a first-liner for Buffalo. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres to dress lineup with established talent against Penguins

BUFFALO – Ten Sabres – much of their established talent – will be making their preseason debut tonight at KeyBank Center.

So some of the line combinations and defense pairings the Sabres will be showcasing against the Pittsburgh Penguins could be utilized in the regular season.

Top center Casey Mittelstadt pivoted Jeff Skinner and Victor Olofsson this morning. On defense, Rasmus Dahlin skated beside Henri Jokiharju, his partner late last season.

Coach Don Granato said ... Read the full article

Mark Pysyk spent his first four NHL seasons in Buffalo. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Mark Pysyk enjoying return to Sabres: ‘Going to be a fun team to watch’

BUFFALO – Sometimes, Mark Pysyk said, it seems like he only left the Sabres a week ago. Other times, however, he acknowledged it feels like it has been a long time.

The Sabres, who signed a one-year, $900,000 contract to return, left in 2016. Only one teammate from the affable defenseman’s first run here, center Zemgus Girgensons, is still with the team.

“I see him walking around, the way he plays, his body takes a ... Read the full article

Will Butcher could enjoy a leading role in Buffalo. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres’ Will Butcher has special chance to reignite sputtering career

BUFFALO – Adrenaline and excitement buoyed defenseman Will Butcher through his season debut. In his first outing in nearly five months, the Sabres ran the newcomer ragged, skating him more than 28 minutes.

While Butcher, 26, said he felt fine during Tuesday’s 5-4 shootout win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, the heavy workload caught up with him later.

“Yeah, it was a lot of minutes,” Butcher said following Wednesday’s sessions of training camp inside KeyBank ... Read the full article