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The Sabres Observer

Sabres Agree To Terms With Gragnani

From the Sabres,

BUFFALO, NY (August 11, 2011) - Buffalo Sabres GM Darcy Regier today announced that defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani has agreed to terms on a one-year deal.

Gragnani (6’2”, 201 lbs., 3/11/1987) appeared in a career-high nine regular season games during two recalls for the Sabres last season, recording the first three points of his career (1+2) and two penalty minutes. Gragnani also played in all seven of the team’s playoff games, leading all Buffalo skaters with seven points (1+6). He ranked third on the team in total ice time, averaging 21:53 per game.

Gragnani also had a career season in the AHL in 2010-11, breaking the Portland Pirates’ franchise records for assists (48) and points (60) by a defenseman and leading all AHL defensemen in both categories despite playing only 63 AHL games. Gragnani’s efforts earned him the Eddie Shore Award, given to the AHL’s Most Outstanding Defenseman.

The Montreal, Que. native had played in six NHL games prior to last season’s call-ups, totaling zero points and six penalty minutes during the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons with the Sabres.

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Sabres Sign Two

From the Sabres,

BUFFALO, N.Y. (August 9, 2011) – Buffalo Sabres GM Darcy Regier today announced that left wing Michael Ryan and center Paul Szczechura (pronounced sha-HUR-uh) have both agreed to one-year contracts.

Ryan (6’1”, 188 lbs., 5/16/80) spent five seasons with the Sabres organization from 2003-2007.  During that time, Ryan appeared in 65 games with the Sabres and collected 13 points (7+6). In 210 career games with Rochester, Ryan amassed 122 points (56+66).

Ryan also appeared in 18 games with the Carolina Hurricanes during the 2008-09 season. Overall, Ryan has appeared in 83 NHL career NHL games, collecting 15 points (7+8).

In addition to his four seasons with the Americans (2003-2007), Ryan has appeared in 101 games with the Albany River Rats, Springfield Falcons and Adirondack Phantoms. Ryan has compiled 208 points (108+100) in 311 games during his AHL career.

The Boston, Mass. native was originally acquired by the Sabres from Dallas with a second-round choice in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft on March, 10, 2003 in exchange for Stu Barnes.

Szczechura (5’11”, 190 lbs., 11/30/85) spent last season with the Norfolk Admirals (AHL). In 79 games with the Admirals, the Brantford, Ont. native collected 52 points (22+30). Szczechura appeared in 83 games with the Tampa Bay Lightning during parts of the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons, amassing 16 points (9+7).

In 214 career AHL games, Szczechura totaled 148 points (62+86) between Norfolk and the Iowa Stars.

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Sabres Name Kevyn Adams Assistant Coach

From the Sabres:

BUFFALO, NY (August 3, 2011) - Buffalo Sabres GM Darcy Regier today announced Kevyn Adams has been selected as the team’s new Assistant Coach. Adams will join Head Coach Lindy Ruff and Assistant Coach James Patrick behind the bench for the 2011-12 season.

Adams joined the Sabres’ coaching staff in 2009 as Player Development Coach. His primary duties during the past two seasons have been working with players on their individual skills through on-ice drills and off-ice video sessions.

Prior to joining the Sabres’ coaching staff, Adams played 10 seasons in the NHL, collecting 136 points on 59 goals and 77 assists in 540 games. The Clarence, NY native was selected 25th overall in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft by the Boston Bruins. Adams went on to play for six clubs, including the Maple Leafs, Columbus Blue Jackets, Florida Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes, Phoenix Coyotes and Chicago Blackhawks. During the 2005-06 season, Adams set a career high in goals (15) and was named an assistant captain while playing a key role in leading the Hurricanes to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

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Sabres Hire Rolston To Coach AHL Team

From The Rochester Democrat And Chronicle,

[Ron] Rolston, 44, has spent the past seven years as head coach at USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Mich.

He also has 14 years of experience as an assistant coach in college hockey — at Lake Superior State, Clarkson, Harvard and Boston College.

“He’s a very thorough, knowledgeable and prepared coach,” said Jim Johannson, assistant executive director of hockey operations for USA Hockey.

more , including comments from Rolston, Darcy Regier and James van Riemsdyk.


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Don’t Confuse Sabres Depth With A Logjam

“The Sabres have a logjam on their defense position.” - WIVB.com

“I would say [AHL Rochester] is [Ales Kotalik’s] likely destination based on the logjam Buffalo has on the wing.” - 2InTheBox blog

“I saw [Steve Sullivan] was a pending UFA…but we have a serious logjam at wing” - DieByTheBlade.com reader willgarr15

The Sabres signed another piece of their potential Stanley Cup puzzle Tuesday in Andrej Sekera, which means that once again we were fed an unhealthy dose of local media and fan pondering over how to deal with Buffalo’s alleged oversupply of good players and its inevitable sentencing to salary cap jail.

Not to seem cranky after watching my favorite team commit $11M over four years to a guy who right now is a third pair defenseman on this team, but aren’t some of you folks the same Sabres fans and writers who seemingly yesterday were whining about the lack of depth on this club?

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Sabres Set Season Ticket Renewal Record

From the Sabres,

The Buffalo Sabres today announced the team has achieved a record renewal rate of 99% for their 2011-12 season tickets. As a result, season ticket sales have been capped at 15,200 tickets for the 2011-12 season. That total includes 100 new season tickets, which have been sold to members of the Buffalo Sabres Blue & Gold club.

Due to this extraordinary rate of renewal, the supply of tickets for the upcoming season will be much more limited than years past. The demand was so great that the Sabres will – for the first time in franchise history – cap the number of Mini-Packs at 3,500 accounts.

“We anticipate this year’s Mini-Packs will sell out quickly,” said John Sinclair, the VP of Ticket Operations & Services. “Those individuals that are currently members of the Blue & Gold Club will have the first opportunity to purchase tickets, as well as individuals who purchased Mini-Packs last season. At that point, it will move to the general public.”

continue reading…

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Sabres Sign Sekera And Ellis to Multi-Year Deals

From the Sabres,

Buffalo Sabres GM Darcy Regier today announced that defenseman Andrej Sekera and forward Matt Ellis have each agreed to multi-year contracts.

Sekera (6’0”, 201 lbs., 6/8/1986) appeared in 76 games for the Sabres last season, recording career highs in both assists (26) and points (29). In two playoff games, Sekera added one goal and four penalty minutes.

The Bojnice, Slovakia native has 67 points (12+55) in 233 career games. Sekera was Buffalo’s third-round pick (71st overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.

Ellis (6’0”, 212 lbs., 8/31/1981) appeared in 52 games last season as captain of the Portland Pirates (AHL), totaling 31 points (10+21). He was held scoreless in 14 games during four recalls to Buffalo in 2010-11. Ellis has amassed 33 points (13+20) in 201 career NHL games, including 25 (10+15) in 131 games with the Sabres.

A native of Welland, Ont., Ellis joined Buffalo on Oct. 1, 2008 when he was claimed off waivers from Los Angeles. He was originally signed as undrafted free agent by Detroit on May 10, 2002 after playing junior hockey with the St. Michael’s Majors.

Update 6:59 pm: WGR-550 reporting that it is a front-loaded 4 year, $11.5M deal for Sekera.

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Congrats, Clint, And Good Luck

If life were fair then bad things wouldn’t happen to good people.  Maybe such omnipotent injustice exists to inspire us when we witness a fellow human being emerging victorious over monumental challenges thrown his way.

With over 20 years of the precincts in since a fateful night at the Aud in Buffalo, Clint Malarchuk is winning.

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Sabres Assistant Says Myers Felt “Sluggish”

It took awhile for Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers to recover from a poor start this past season.  In late January his -14 was the worst plus/minus on the team, which resulted in some extra time on the bench.  Fortunately for the Sabres, Myers came back strong and literally turned it around with a +14 rating for the remainder of the regular season.
Assistant coach James Patrick revealed Wednesday on internet radio show “Blueshirt Underground” his feelings about what went wrong during the first half of the season for the 2010 Calder Trophy winner:

“He tried to get bigger [during the summer] and he ate a lot, lifted, trained hard, but it was all about getting bigger.  At the end [of the season] he confessed, he said, ‘I just felt terrible.  I felt sluggish.  I felt heavy.’  That kind of hurt him at the start of the year until he got back to his playing weight of the year before.”

Those comments can be heard at around 57:00 of the podcast.  Patrick also discussed the Christian Ehrhoff signing and what traits are important for a defenseman on the power play (47:00), and even dropped a subtle hint that the Sabres were at one point interested in acquiring Kevin Bieksa and/or Hal Gill (60:00).

Twitter: @DaveDavisHockey

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Outcry Over Spending Falling On Buffalo’s Deaf Ears

“If Ehrhoff and Leino don’t turn out to be quite as good as their salaries suggest, the same guys who are giving Sabres fans so much hope now could be millstones around the Sabres payroll once they are good enough to contend.”

- Ken Campbell of The Hockey News

“Dear Mr. Campbell - Just wondering if you could elaborate on the financial downside for deep-pocketed owners taking chances with high risk/reward contracts, such as was the case with deals for Wade Redden, Cristobal Huet and Michael Nylander.  I ask this because when checking capgeek.com for team payrolls this past season for New York, Chicago and Washington, these millstones were nowhere to be found.  Sincerely, Dave

Go ahead, hockey world.  Tell us in Buffalo how our owner should be committed for agreeing to these crazy contracts.  We can take it.  Not that it means anything to you, but this franchise has suffered far too long for us to be overly concerned about what you think.

After enduring years of heartbreak watching the vultures fly in to swoop up Michael Peca, Dominik Hasek, Jay McKee, Daniel Briere, Chris Drury, Brian Campbell, Henrik Tallinder and Toni Lydman with contracts reaching varying levels of absurdity, fate has apparently concluded that it’s finally time for the Sabres to become takers rather than givers.

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About The Sabres Observer

Dave Davis has covered the Buffalo Sabres for various NHL accredited websites and newspapers since 2003.  He was the senior writer and Sabres correspondent for The Fourth Period, covered hockey for Western New York Sports and Leisure Magazine, and has had articles featured on NHL.com, FOX Sports, Yahoo Sports and in New York Sportscene.  Sabres news and notes can be found on his Twitter page.

2014-15 NHL Reverse Standings


Email: dd@kuklaskorner.com Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]


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