There had been speculation Buffalo would expose Rasmus Ristolainen to Seattle. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

NHL releases Sabres’ protected list for Expansion Draft

Sorry, Ron Francis, you won’t get a chance to snatch Rasmus Ristolainen for your Seattle Kraken defense corps. The Buffalo Sabres protected the Finn for Wednesday’s NHL Expansion Draft.

But if Francis, Seattle’s general manager, wants to grab a defenseman from the Sabres, he can take Will Borgen or Colin Miller, both of whom were left unprotected.

The Sabres’ 11-man protected list the NHL released Sunday morning features zero surprises. There had been speculation the ... Read the full article

Will Borgen played 10 games for Buffalo last season. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres could lose valuable young player to Kraken in NHL Expansion Draft

Since the Buffalo Sabres drafted Will Borgen 92nd overall in 2015, he has morphed from a relatively unknown prospect into a defenseman on the cusp of regular NHL duty.

The Sabres have guided Borgen’s development from his college career at St. Cloud State through his early pro days with the Rochester Americans to the big leagues.

Prior to breaking his forearm last season, Borgen, 24, appeared to be close to securing a spot on Buffalo’s ... Read the full article

Jeff Skinner has struggled over the past two seasons. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres’ Jeff Skinner waives no-movement clause for Expansion Draft

Buffalo Sabres winger Jeff Skinner has waived his no-movement clause for the upcoming NHL Expansion Draft, his agent, Don Meehan, confirmed to the Times Herald on Wednesday.

Skinner’s decision is significant. The Sabres can use his spot to protect a young forward – perhaps Rasmus Asplund, Anders Bjork or Tage Thompson – who could’ve been exposed to the Seattle Kraken next Wednesday.

Skinner, 29, has struggled since signing an eight-year, $72 million contract ... Read the full article

Dylan Guenther scored 12 goals and 24 points in 12 games last season with the Edmonton Oil Kings. ©2021, Andy Devlin, Edmonton Oil Kings

Dylan Guenther could be too talented for Sabres to pass up at NHL Draft

NHL Draft prospect Dylan Guenther was just 15, a neophyte up for his first taste of major junior hockey. Still, despite being one of the league’s youngest players, the winger turned heads during his eight-game stint, utilizing his lethal shot to score three times.

“Dylan’s a shooter,” said Brad Lauer, Guenther’s coach with the Western Hockey League’s Edmonton Oil Kings. “Right from 15 when we had him, he scored three goals for us that some ... Read the full article

The Sabres are expected to be busy this summer. ©2021, Buffalo Sabres

Sabres name Sam Ventura VP of hockey strategy and research

The Buffalo Sabres have made a significant analytics hire, naming Sam Ventura vice president of hockey strategy and research, the team announced Monday.

Ventura, 33, spent the last six seasons in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ front office, winning the Stanley Cup in 2016 and 2017. In Pittsburgh, he worked under Jason Karmanos, who was hired as the Sabres’ associate general manager April 13.

Jason Nightingale, who recently served as the director of analytics and assistant ... Read the full article

Don Granato quickly learned about the passion for the Sabres. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Coach Don Granato wants to keep instilling pride in Sabres

It was Sept. 1, 2019, and Don Granato, one of the Buffalo Sabres’ new assistant coaches, was wandering the halls of Park Country Club in Williamsville looking for the banquet room.

Granato had been invited to the team’s annual alumni golf outing, and before everyone hit the course, they gathered for a meeting. When Granato found the room and sneaked in through a back door, the number of alumni in attendance shocked him.

“I ... Read the full article

Don Granato was hired as Buffalo’s permanent coach Tuesday. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Confident Don Granato embraces challenge of coaching Sabres

After the Sabres’ tumultuous season ended, Don Granato told general manager Kevyn Adams how much he coveted the team’s permanent head coaching position.

Granato, having transformed the Sabres into a competitive group during his 28-game stint as interim coach, likely could’ve pursued opportunities on higher-profile clubs.

But Granato, who on Tuesday was named the 20th coach in franchise history, wanted to stay in Buffalo.

“This is the position I wanted to be in, I had ... Read the full article

Buffalo coach Don Granato has varied experience. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Don Granato paid dues, defied odds to become Sabres’ new coach

When the Buffalo Sabres named Don Granato their interim coach, he was expected to simply be a fill-in. After their disastrous season ended, general manager Kevyn Adams could start searching for Ralph Krueger’s permanent replacement.

But a funny thing happened. Granato, who was named the 20th head coach in franchise history Tuesday, quickly emerged as the Sabres’ best long-term option.

After losing their first six games under Granato, 53, the Sabres looked like a ... Read the full article

Kent Johnson (19) was the BCHL’s MVP with the Trail Smoke Eaters in 2019-20. ©2021, Mike Hockley, Trail Smoke Eaters

Michigan star Kent Johnson intriguing option for Sabres early at NHL Draft

Barely a year before Jeff Tambellini would start coaching Kent Johnson, he was introduced to the ultra-talented forward during a summer skate in 2017.

Some pro hockey players from Vancouver would occasionally invite teenagers from the local Power Edge Pro training group to join them. So Tambellini, then a 33-year-old preparing to possibly play his 14th pro season, found himself on the same ice as Johnson, a skinny 14-year-old from nearby Burnaby, British Columbia.... Read the full article

Don Granato has coached in college, junior and pro hockey. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

If Sabres pass on Don Granato, hiring an ex-NHL head coach could be wise move

Right now, Don Granato must wait as Kevyn Adams conducts what could be an exhaustive search for the Buffalo Sabres’ next head coach.

The general manager reiterated last week he plans to talk to a lot of people, so it might take several weeks before he makes the most critical decision of his short tenure.

If Adams gets it wrong, it will likely set the franchise back years.

Granato’s work transforming the Sabres as interim ... Read the full article