Brian Gionta retired Monday. ©2018, Hickling Images

Former Sabres captain Brian Gionta helped change hockey

BUFFALO – Twenty years ago, diminutive players like Brian Gionta – the ones teams list at, say, 5-foot-9 but are clearly much smaller – rarely received a chance in the NHL.

Sure, once in a while an undersized talent would break through. But for the most part, the league coveted size.

Then in the early 2000s, a few small forwards – Gionta, Daniel Briere and Martin St. Louis – started seizing their chances and morphing ... Read the full article

Sam Reinhart ended his holdout Wednesday. ©2018, Hickling Images

Sabres’ Tage Thompson promoted; Zach Bogosian, Sam Reinhart to debut

BUFFALO – Instead of utilizing Sam Reinhart or Kyle Okposo at right wing on the No. 1 line tonight, Sabres coach Phil Housley will give youngster Tage Thompson a look beside center Jack Eichel and Jeff Skinner.

Thompson, 20, scored a nifty goal in Friday’s 5-3 loss in Toronto, carrying the puck into the zone before toe-dragging and unleashing a wicked wrist shot from the right circle.

“I really liked what he brought to ... Read the full article

Sean Malone looked impressive early in training camp. ©2018, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres forwards Conor Sheary, Sean Malone out with injuries

BUFFALO – Sabres winger Conor Sheary, a newcomer expected to skate on a top line, is week-to-week after suffering an upper-body injury during Friday’s practice.

“In the first day (of training camp), he took a hit the wrong way, and we’re just making sure we’re on top of that,” said Sabres coach Phil Housley, who is dealing with three notable injuries just five days into camp.

Center Sean Malone will miss six weeks after ... Read the full article

Zach Bogosian is one of the longest-tenured Sabres. ©2018, Hickling Images

Sabres feel change, excitement as new season opens

BUFFALO – The open communication among the Sabres and the accountability it has generated is new and welcome.

In the recent past, problems often festered and the Sabres usually imploded at the first hint of adversity. Some players clearly felt uncomfortable discussing any issues with each other.

Then following last season’s dreadful 31st-place finish, coach Phil Housley challenged the Sabres. He wanted self-reflection. He wanted them to change before the new season, which kicked off ... Read the full article

Jack Eichel believes the Sabres can turns things around in a hurry. ©2018, Hickling Images

Jack Eichel anxious to start season, excited about revamped Sabres

BUFFALO – More than two weeks before training camp starts, around 20 Sabres – from star center Jack Eichel to rookies preparing for the upcoming prospect tournament – are already skating regularly at HarborCenter.

Informal summer skates, of course, are common. Still, having so many guys in town so early – heck, it’s still August – sends a strong message.

“It says you want to be here, right?” Eichel said Monday. “It says you want ... Read the full article

Jeff Skinner could’ve vetoed a trade to the Sabres. ©2018, Hickling Images

Young talent helped convince Jeff Skinner to join Sabres

BUFFALO – Having a no-trade clause attached to his six-year, $34.35 million contract meant Jeff Skinner controlled his future. The Sabres’ newest player could veto a deal and wait until the Carolina Hurricanes and his agent found him a new team he liked.

While Skinner denied he turned down any offers before the Sabres materialized, reports and the timing of his trade – high-profile NHL deals rarely transpire in August – suggest otherwise.... Read the full article

Jeff Skinner waived a no-trade clause to join the Sabres. ©2018, Hickling Images

Jeff Skinner sees fit with Sabres

BUFFALO – Having a no-trade clause attached to his six-year, $34.35 million contract meant Jeff Skinner controlled his future. The Sabres’ newest player could veto a deal and wait until the Carolina Hurricanes and his agent found him a new team he liked.

While Skinner denied he turned down any offers, reports and the timing of his trade – high-profile NHL deals rarely transpire in August – suggest otherwise.... Read the full article

Jeff Skinner has scored 30 goals three times. ©2018, Hickling Images

Jeff Skinner acquisition shows Sabres believe they can win now

Before Thursday’s acquisition of slick winger Jeff Skinner, so many of the Buffalo Sabres’ trades throughout their seemingly endless rebuild focused on the future. Deals would often net them prospects or draft picks, a sign winning wasn’t imminent.

But Sabres general manager Jason Botterill made a different swap to nab the three-time 30-goal scorer from the Carolina Hurricanes. For one of the few times in recent years, the Sabres dealt futures for a proven commodity.... Read the full article

Jeff Skinner offers the Sabres more scoring. ©2018, Hickling Images

Sabres acquire Jeff Skinner from Hurricanes

The Buffalo Sabres pulled off a rare August trade early tonight, acquiring three-time 30-goal scorer Jeff Skinner from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for forward prospect Cliff Pu, a second-round pick in 2019 and third- and sixth-round selections in 2020.

The trade for Skinner, who’s entering the final season of his contract, gives the Sabres another proven scorer at wing. The Sabres, the NHL’s lowest-scoring team last season, needed to replace the offense they lost ... Read the full article