Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News,
There are all kinds of fresh faces around the Buffalo Sabres’ lineup and even behind the bench. Optimism is flowing about as much as it can be for a team coming off back-to-back visits to the netherworld of 30th place in the NHL standings.
After months of hype, the big unveiling is here. It’s the season opener Thursday night in First Niagara Center against the Ottawa Senators. And there’s no way for the team to downplay it: This one is all about Jack Eichel.
The likeness of the No. 2 overall pick is one of four giant posters erected this week in the FNC atrium with its “Next Chapter” marketing slogan plastered on it.
Connor McDavid and Eichel will be forever linked by going 1-2 in the 2015 draft and this is their night, with Eichel skating in Buffalo and McDavid officially suiting up for the Edmonton Oilers for the first time in their game at St. Louis.
“You don’t focus on that too much anymore but it was all part of the experience to get here,” Eichel said after practice Wednesday on the eve of Buffalo’s 45th NHL opener. “There were great times but they’re over with now and it’s time to play hockey.”
Eichel said he expects plenty of electricity in a building that’s been mostly devoid of any juice for several years.
“I think it will be pretty wild,” he said. “I know Buffalo has been looking forward to this one and so have we. It’s going to be a great experience.”
from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,
The hockey world is tilting on its axis as the puck drops on the 2015-16 NHL season, bringing about a collision of stars that comes around less than once in a generation.
Consider it a lunar eclipse even more rare than the blood moon.
You have generational talents in Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel — centres so enticing that teams were willing to lose for a year to get them — rocketing into orbit while the deities of the last decade, Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, have neither burned out nor faded away.
There are obvious parallels to 2004-05 with a pair of future superstars arriving together, but the wider landscape is totally different. Back then Crosby and Ovechkin were desperately needed to inject excitement and sell a sport that was emerging from an ugly year-long lockout.
added 8:03am, from Victor Mather of the New York Times,
Every decade or so, hockey fans get excited over a “generational talent” coming into the N.H.L. Wayne Gretzky in 1978, Mario Lemieux in 1984, Eric Lindros in 1992 and Sidney Crosby in 2005 were all considered can’t-miss centers bound for immediate greatness and eventually the Hall of Fame.
This season there are two 18-year-old centers who are being heralded as the next great ones.
from John Vogl of the Buffalo News,
Here are some things to keep an eye on as the Sabres start a new era of watchable hockey.
1. Jack Eichel. The future (present?) superstar is the reward for years of suffering. He’s already shown he can be worth the price of admission.
The first time he wore a Buffalo uniform, in a prospects tournament, Eichel assisted on the tying goal in the closing minutes and scored the winner in overtime on a breakaway. In his first preseason game, Eichel scored the winner on a breakaway while short-handed. He has the ability to turn any game into a must-see event.
“I want to come in and find a role and make a difference for this team and help them win games,” Eichel said. “That’s why they drafted me, and that’s why they’re giving me this opportunity.”
2. Evander Kane. Flashy on and off the ice, Kane is an open book and an enigma at the same time. No one may ever know the whole story of what happened in Winnipeg, but anyone can see Kane lives a high-dollar lifestyle through his pictures of beaches, sports cars and model girlfriend.
from Dan Rosen of NHL.com,
Do you think the New York Rangers will re-sign Keith Yandle? If so, what does the new contract look like?
I'm 50-50 on this. A lot will depend on how the Rangers play this season, where they stand at the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline, the maturation of Brady Skjei, and the cap. The Rangers should be a contender, so they should be in buying mode come the deadline, so it stands to reason Yandle would be safe if he is still unsigned at that point. The maturation of Skjei matters more than anything here because he's a left-handed defenseman, like Yandle, and he would be a lot cheaper to have on the roster in Yandle's spot than Yandle would be....
Who stands out more for the Buffalo Sabres this year, Ryan O'Reilly, Evander Kane or Jack Eichel?
They'll all stand out, but Eichel will make the biggest splash because he'll have the spotlight on him more than the other two guys and I'm fairly certain after seeing some of his preseason and reading all about him, quotes from everyone around the Sabres and media members who have seen them play, that he will be the real deal. I expect O'Reilly and Kane to have big impacts on the ice as well, but all eyes will be on Eichel and he will stand out. It will help him that the Sabres should have O'Reilly and Kane on the top line with Tyler Ennis, which means they will face the top defense pairs whereas Eichel, who could play with Matt Moulson and Zemgus Girgensons to start, will have it slightly easier.
more on the Yandle topic plus additional Q & A...
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
Who knows how good this Sabres team can be. The Eastern Conference is pretty wide open. Could they be playing meaningful games in January or February, perhaps beyond?
For that to happen, Lehner has to be the real deal. Kane has to stay healthy. Eichel has to be as good as advertised. The defense has to come together under Bylsma. That's a lot of questions.
Still, for the first time in a long time, the questions are are colored by something akin to unabashed, unbridled optimism.
"You get a lot of pats on the back, and we haven't done anything yet," Murray told two reporters after the team's on-ice workout.
"Last I saw, we finished 30th and we're trying to improve and I think on paper we've improved. There's a lot of variables. New coaching staff. How quickly we gel with a lot of new guys. Two new goalies that didn't play here last year at all. I think there are a lot of question marks.
"We're excited about the questions, obviously, but we have to see what we do here. I'm confident we're going to get a lot better. I'm just not quite sure what that means."
BUFFALO, N.Y. (September 18, 2015) --- The Buffalo Sabres today announced defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen will miss the first 7-10 days of the team’s training camp with an upper-body injury. The third-year defenseman is coming off his first full NHL season, a year in which he led all Sabres defensemen in games played (78), goals (8), assists (12) and points (20).
In addition, forward Cody McCormick did not pass his training camp physical and is out indefinitely. McCormick appeared in 33 games for the Sabres in 2014-15, his fifth season with the team.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
There is a "normal" routine for a player about to start his first season in the NHL.
For Jack Eichel, it was hanging out at his parents' home this summer, enjoying his mother's home cooking after living away from home playing hockey the past few years. It was getting to know his new landlords: Buffalo Sabres teammate Matt Moulson, Moulson's wife and two small children. He's playing goalie for Moulson's young son, who's too young to know that his new playmate is considered one of the great young talents in the game. And he went through his first physical on Thursday as the Sabres opened training camp.
But juxtaposed against these routines, which young players have experienced for decades, is the undeniable fact that "normal" really is a foreign concept for a player like Eichel, the second overall pick in June's draft.
"He's a special player," Moulson told ESPN.com Thursday. "Does a lot of things that probably 99 percent of the guys in the NHL can't do, and he's 18 years old. This kid's got some stuff that not a lot of people I've ever seen have."
And not much happened...
from Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News,
Ryan O'Reilly's second date in London, Ont., court has become a third date. The case involving the Sabres center's ill-fated drive into a Tim Hortons was pushed back again today, this time to Oct. 1.
O'Reilly was charged with impaired driving and leaving the scene of an accident on July 9 after crashing his 1951 Chevrolet pickup into the cafe in Lucan, Ont., not far from London. O'Reilly had said earlier in the week he was hopeful the case could be wrapped up today but that was not the case. O'Reilly was represented by an attorney and did not appear.
"That's what we do in Canada -- we remand and remand and remand and lawyers get paid," General Manager Tim Murray joked today in First Niagara Center. "As long as the end result is what he believes is the truth to be and what we've been told ... Would it have been better that it ended on Aug. 10 or today? Maybe. But as long as it's done right vs. done in a speedy fashion, I'm fine with it."
via Lisa Dillman of the LA Times,
"I'm obviously happy to get him, I was exploring all avenues in getting a defenseman that can help us. It's been about 75 days of getting to intimately know his agent, talking to him and texting every day. It started in early July and we got to a point where we were comfortable here.
"He's a skill defenseman, obviously a big body. We know he's not a crasher and banger and that's not what we signed him for. But he's got some range, he's got a long reach. It does take some space to get by him."
Tim Murray, GM of the Buffalo Sabres on signing Cody Franson. More from Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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