Kyle Okposo played other sports growing up. ©2018, Hickling Images

Basketball, football helped pave path to NHL for Sabres’ Kyle Okposo

TORONTO – Kyle Okposo nearly ended his hockey career as a rambunctious child when he knocked over his family’s Christmas tree. Years later, the Buffalo Sabres winger briefly gave up the sport, choosing instead to focus on basketball and football.

Tonight’s tilt against the Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre will be Okposo’s 667th NHL game. In his 10-year, career, he has been an NHL All-Star and scored 171 goals and 456 points. Two ... Read the full article

Tom Ward has an impressive high school resume. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres hire Tom Ward as assistant coach; Dan Catenacci re-signed

BUFFALO – The Sabres have hired Tom Ward, a top prep coach who groomed Sidney Crosby, Kyle Okposo and other future NHL players at Shattuck-St. Mary’s, as the final assistant on Dan Bylsma’s staff, the team announced this afternoon.

Ward, 52, spent the last 18 seasons as the head coach of the boys prep team at the Minnesota high school, winning nine USA Hockey National Championships and finishing as runner-up twice.

Shattuck is known for ... Read the full article

Jamie McBain signed with Los Angeles last month. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Kings’ Jamie McBain finally settled following season with Sabres

BUFFALO – No one wanted Jamie McBain.

When the Sabres refused to tender a qualifying offer to the restricted free agent in June, the defenseman found zero suitors on the open market. Late in the summer, McBain received a tryout in Arizona’s training camp. After the Coyotes let him go, he went home to Minnesota.

“It was a long summer, especially October, just sitting there watching all the games,” McBain, who joined the Los ... Read the full article

Rasmus Ristolainen put his stick in his face Monday. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres notes: Rasmus Ristolainen escapes freak injury

BUFFALO – As players trickled off the ice Monday following practice, Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen suddenly bolted down the hallway holding his nose and went to the trainer’s room.

What happened?

Ristolainen apparently got caught in a rut on the ice, and his stick hit him in the face as he fell backward. The youngster will be OK, Sabres coach Ted Nolan said.

It’s a good thing, because the Sabres are running low on defensemen. ... Read the full article

Nikita Zadorov has been a regular scratch. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres notes: GM Tim Murray undecided on Nikita Zadorov’s future

PITTSBURGH – With Sam Reinhart sent back to junior Friday, Buffalo Sabres general manager Tim Murray can concentrate on another teenage prospect, defenseman Nikita Zadorov.

“I don’t want to start juggling five balls,” Murray said inside the First Niagara Center.

The Sabres have essentially been stashing Zadorov on their roster until they find a place for him to play. The 19-year-old has played only one of the first 11 games.

Since Zadorov doesn’t have ... Read the full article

Nick Deslauriers was a defenseman until last season. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Nick Deslauriers trying to build on breakout season

BUFFALO – The whole season, Sabres winger Nick Deslauriers said, “was pretty crazy.”

Barely a year ago, Deslauriers was a defenseman in Los Angeles’ organization. Three years into his career, he hadn’t played an NHL game. Then a forward shortage forced the Kings to make him a winger.

Suddenly, Deslauriers became a goal scorer up front, compiling 16 in 60 games for AHL Manchester.

That scoring prowess, coupled with his usual nasty edge, caught the ... Read the full article

Cory Conacher is looking for a new team. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres let Cory Conacher, Jamie McBain go

BUFFALO – The short Sabres careers of winger Cory Conacher and defenseman Jamie McBain are over.

The rebuilding club passed on giving them qualifying offers as restricted free agents, making them free to sign with any team.

The Sabres also didn’t qualify defensemen Nick Crawford and Matt MacKenzie, who played in Rochester, and goalie Connor Knapp, who played two NHL games last season.

Sabres general manager Tim Murray said Monday morning McBain, who struggled his ... Read the full article

Jamie McBain played one season with the Sabres. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres won’t qualify Jamie McBain and Connor Knapp, undecided on Cory Conacher

BUFFALO – Defenseman Jamie McBain’s short Sabres career is over.

The 26-year-old restricted free agent won’t be given a qualifying offer, general manager Tim Murray said this morning inside the First Niagara Center.

McBain struggled much of last season, compiling six goals, 17 points and a minus-13 rating in 69 appearances. The Sabres acquired him in the Andrej Sekera trade with Carolina a year ago today.

What about the other RFAs?

Murray said “maybe” when ... Read the full article

Ville Leino couldn’t score in 58 games this season. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Ville Leino uncertain about future after goalless season

BUFFALO – It happened every time Ville Leino touched the puck, whether the Sabres center was 10 feet from the net or in another zone.

The 18,804 fans inside the First Niagara Center cheered the Finn wildly throughout Sunday’s season finale, hoping he would score his first goal in his 58th appearance. Some implored him to shoot.

Alas, Leino couldn’t score, completing what was arguably the worst season ever for a Sabres forward.

“I ... Read the full article

Connor Knapp made 22 saves Sunday. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres goalie Connor Knapp on first NHL start: ‘Quite a moment in my life’

BUFFALO – On March 15, more than 4,000 miles from Buffalo, Sabres goalie Connor Knapp stopped 24 shots in the Alaska Aces’ 4-2 win against the Colorado Eagles in Anchorage.

Twenty-nine days later, Knapp, the sixth goalie on the organization’s depth chart, made his first NHL start in the Sabres’ 4-3 shootout loss to the New York Islanders.

Knapp grew up in York, a small town about 30 miles from Rochester.

“It’s crazy,” the 23-year-old ... Read the full article