Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Joe Yerdon at NHL.com,
Things are about to change for the better for the Buffalo Sabres.
The past two seasons were the worst in Sabres history, so it'd be easy to say things can't get worse, but the arrival of the No. 2 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, Boston University center Jack Eichel, has changed the attitude here.
Eichel's arrival, coupled with the eventual debut of forward Evander Kane, who didn't play for the Sabres after he was acquired in a trade from the Winnipeg Jets on Feb. 11 (elbow surgery); center Ryan O'Reilly, acquired from the Colorado Avalanche on June 26; and coach Dan Bylsma, has the Buffalo fan base hopeful the organizational rebuild will bring results on the ice.
The Sabres will have a young and talented group of forwards to try to lift an offense that scored an NHL-low 158 goals last season. The addition of Eichel, Kane and O'Reilly to Tyler Ennis and Zemgus Girgensons gives Buffalo a youthful core. If Sam Reinhart, the No. 2 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, makes the roster, it would make the Sabres that much younger and add another potential scorer.
BUFFALO, N.Y. (July 27, 2015) --- The Buffalo Sabres today announced Russ Brandon will become President and Alternate Governor of the Buffalo Sabres effective immediately while continuing as Managing Partner/President of the Buffalo Bills. Brandon will oversee all aspects of the business operations for both the Sabres and Bills organizations and report directly to Terry and Kim Pegula. Former team President Ted Black has mutually agreed to part ways from the organization.
from Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News,
Neither O’Reilly nor his agent, Pat Morris, have issued any statements on the incident. The Sabres issued a terse, two-sentence comment Monday night from General Manager Tim Murray that indicated they were still in fact-finding mode. It’s unclear when exactly the team learned of the incident, but police reports in the small township near London were not issued for more than four days....
It remains to be seen if the DWAI will impact the ability of O’Reilly, a Canadian citizen, from crossing the border into the United States to work. O’Reilly could face up to six months in jail for leaving the scene but multiple sources say it’s often tougher to enter Canada after a driving under the influence conviction in the U.S. than vice versa, as is the case here.
Pending adjudication, the league can simply suspend a player unilaterally. That’s what happened in the case of Los Angeles Kings defenseman Slava Voynov, who played just six games last season after being arrested on a domestic violence charge in October. Voynov pleaded no contest to the charges on July 2, was sentenced to 90 days in jail and three years probation.
The league used Article 18-A.5 of the CBA to suspend Voynov, where in its judgment “the failure to suspend the Player during this period would create a substantial risk of material harm to the legitimate interests and/or reputation of the League."
from Mike Harrinton of the Buffalo News,
All the talk this week has been about prospects and there was plenty more Sunday. But the most interesting nugget from the GM was this one: Don’t sleep on the Sabres landing Chicago defenseman Johnny Oduya.
Buffalo still needs another quality left-shot blueliner and there’s plenty of chatter it put in a big free-agent offer to Oduya on July 1. To this point, it seems like Oduya, 33, would prefer to stay with the Blackhawks. But even after Friday’s big trade of Patrick Sharp to Dallas, the Hawks are still jammed by the salary cap.
At some point, you would think Oduya would tell the Hawks, who already unloaded Brandon Saad to Columbus, to make a firm decision about keeping him or he’s moving on. Chicago, however, seems intent on taking care of forward Marcus Kruger’s deal first. Outside Chicago, Oduya’s most likely landing place is Buffalo or perhaps Boston.
Oduya’s last deal with Chicago was for three years and $10.125 million, so he’s going to expect a raise to at least $4 million a season, and maybe closer to $5 million. Murray isn’t big on free agency and is very picky about the ones he goes after. For him to flat-out say Sunday he had not moved on from Oduya was significant.
Oduya played three years with Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian in Atlanta and Winnipeg. Think there’s been some conversation there about what’s going on in Buffalo? Uh-huh.
read on for more on the Sabres...
from Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News,
The Sabres sold 17,115 tickets Friday night. For a development camp scrimmage. In July. Lots of people around the NHL will think that’s a typo when they see the number.
There were 11 NHL teams that averaged fewer than 17,000 fans per game last season. In the regular season. Arizona, Carolina and Florida all averaged under 14,000, with the pathetic Panthers even under 12,000.
Who did they all come downtown to see? Mostly No. 41, who is about to become No. 15 for maybe, oh, the next 10 years or more around here.
Jack Eichel let his numerology out of the bag in the morning, announcing he would be wearing the number most known in franchise annals by Gerry Meehan and Dixon Ward. Of course, Eichel said he would only wear 15 if he makes the team. Heh. Jokester.
The talk of a huge crowd grew all week. First you heard 7,000, then 8,000. Then the number hit 10,000 and it just never stopped.
“This place was jammed around the rink,” said new coach Dan Bylsma, who was equally floored at how jammed his news conference was for early July too. “And even coming to the game with the weather, it had the feel and excitement of a playoff game almost with the people that were here. Seventeen thousand for July 10. Pretty awesome.”
from Terry Frei of The Denver Post,
Last week, word came that the Buffalo Sabres signed former Avalanche forward Ryan O'Reilly to a seven-year, $52.5 million contract extension that kicks in after he make $6.2 million this season and takes him through 2022-23. The deal calls for him to make $11 million in 2016-17 and slide down to $6 million in each of the final four years. The annual cap hit is $7.5 million.
O'Reilly is respected for his work ethic, which stacks up with that of anyone in the NHL. Fans, media and, most important, the Avalanche "got" that his contributions go far beyond the simply quantifiable. (No, I'm not stooping to citing analytics, but offering conclusions reached by actually watching him play.) Yet the virtually universal reaction to his departure has been: Good riddance. I'm not sure I've ever seen a player so respected told so universally to not let the door hit him on the way out....
O'Reilly already had been inordinately rewarded for his contributions. The salary benchmark was raised when the Calgary Flames signed him to an offer sheet — that involved organizational spite as much as coldhearted evaluation — but the Avalanche willingly went along with it by matching and then reaching a two-year, $12 million deal with him last year minutes in advance of an arbitration heading.
The Avalanche finally had enough.
from Frank Seravalli of TSN,
October marks a fresh start for the Sabres. No team - not the Oilers, Coyotes, Hurricanes or Maple Leafs - lost as many games (120) as Buffalo over the last two seasons. They lost 102 of those games in regulation alone, back-to-back 51-loss campaigns.
With such sweeping moves, are the Sabres now a playoff team?
“You’re never going to get me to say that,” Murray responded. “If we go to the Conference Finals in two years and you ask me (then) if we’re going to make the playoffs the next year, I’m not going to say that.”
The turnaround would be historic - but not necessarily unprecedented.
The last team to go from 30th place to the playoffs the following season was the 2007-08 Philadelphia Flyers. They, too, lost out on the draft lottery - ending up with James van Riemsdyk instead of Patrick Kane in 2007.
With oodles of cap space, the Flyers brought in Kimmo Timonen, Scott Hartnell and Danny Briere in free agency. They traded for Scottie Upshall, Joffrey Lupul and Jason Smith. Braydon Coburn was added late in the miserable 2006-07 season.
It was funny Murray mentioned the Conference Finals off the cuff, since the Flyers improved from 56 points to 95 the next season, then knocked off the Capitals and Canadiens before falling to the Penguins in the penultimate series.
The 39-point swing is one of the largest year-to-year bumps in NHL history. Amazingly, the Flyers somehow survived a 10-game losing streak (0-8-2) in February that year.
BUFFALO, N.Y. (July 3, 2015) --- The Buffalo Sabres today announced the team has signed forward Ryan O’Reilly to a seven-year contract extension.
The Sabres acquired O’Reilly (6’0”, 210 lbs., 2/7/1991) from the Colorado Avalanche with Jamie McGinn on June 26 in exchange for Nikita Zadorov, Mikhail Grigorenko, J.T. Compher and the 31st pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.
Prior to joining the Sabres, O’Reilly played in Colorado for six seasons, recording at least 50 points in each of the last three full NHL seasons. The Clinton, Ontario native tallied 55 points (17+38) in 82 games last season as a member of the Avalanche.
from Wayne Scanlan of the Ottawa Citizen,
Bryan Murray, the Senators’ general manager, and Tim Murray, his counterpart with the Buffalo Sabres, got a lot of business done in and around the NHL draft, including a fascinating trade between their respective clubs: goaltender Robin Lehner, once considered a future cornerstone of the Senators, moving to Buffalo along with veteran centre David Legwand in exchange for a first-round draft pick. That pick was used to selected highly regarded American centre Colin White, 21st overall.
What a weekend it was for Tim, who cut his teeth working alongside his beloved uncle in Anaheim and Ottawa, and took bold steps in rebuilding the last-place Sabres, a team that now includes Jack Eichel, the second overall selection, centre Ryan O’Reilly, a two-way standout for the Colorado Avalanche, former 67’s forward Jamie McGinn, plus forwards Evander Kane (trade) and Sam Reinhart (2014 draft) from earlier transactions.
What a week it was for Bryan and the Senators, who stole the show at the NHL Awards — three nominations, Erik Karlsson winning his second Norris Trophy, and the entire organization shining brightly in the glow of Jonathan Pitre’s inspiring story, which was first told in the pages of the Citizen.
From the bright lights of Vegas to the beaches of Florida, Murray continued to make sensible moves to fine tune his Ottawa roster, including the trade of Eric Gryba to Edmonton, enabling the organization to pare down to seven defencemen (plus AHL Binghamton star Chris Wideman, who was re-signed to a one year, two-way deal Monday).
from John Vogl of the Buffalo News,
After improving his forward and goaltending situations, Murray’s next challenge is rounding out Buffalo’s roster with a defenseman.
“I probably need a veteran UFA defenseman or I have to trade for one,” Murray said. “I’ve been talking to teams about a left-shot D.”
The Sabres are scheduled to enter the 2015-16 season with Zach Bogosian, Josh Gorges, Rasmus Ristolainen, Mike Weber, Mark Pysyk and Chad Ruhwedel on the blue line, with Jake McCabe looking to graduate from the minors. Pysyk and Ristolainen are 23 and 20, respectively, while Ruhwedel has just 32 games of NHL experience.
Though this summer’s class of unrestricted free agents is underwhelming, a highlight is actually among left-handed defensemen. Here’s a look:
• Johnny Oduya: After winning two Stanley Cups in three years with Chicago, the 33-year-old would bring a championship attitude into the dressing room. He just completed a contract that paid $3.375 million per season.
A reliable defender, Oduya wouldn’t help the Sabres’ offense. He had two goals and 10 points in 76 regular-season games and recorded five assists in 23 playoff appearances. He averaged 20:17 of ice time and blocked 123 shots.
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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