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Chat up the start of NHL free agency

Brind'Amour hangs up the skates

Rod Brind'Amour, who helped break the hearts of Sabres fans during the 2006 Eastern Conference finals, has decided to retire.

The 21-year veteran struggled throughout his final season in Carolina, but he's still sure to remembered for captaining the Canes to the Cup as a gritty, faceoff-winning center with scoring punch.

---John Vogl

Chaos eve

Well, here we are again, less than 24 hours away from the most chaotic day of the NHL season -- the opening of free agency. It's the day when anything can happen, as the last few years have shown:

*Teams can disintegrate before your very eyes, just like in Buffalo in 2007 when Chris Drury and Daniel Briere left town.

*No-name players with questionable skills can become multimillionaires, like Jeff Finger in 2008.

*Teams can swoop in unexpectedly and deliver a 12-year deal to someone it seemed was never on their radar, like Chicago did in 2009 with Marian Hossa.

What will 2010 deliver? We'll find out beginning at noon Thursday. Not that you need the prompting, but as always we'll be live here on Sabres Edge all day with continuous updates, polls and chatter. See you then.

---John Vogl

Habs get Ellis from Preds to back up Price

More moves in Montreal announced Tuesday night as the Habs have acquired forward Dustin Boyd and goaltender Dan Ellis from Nashville in exchange for on-the-outs forward Sergei Kostitsyn, who had long worn out his welcome in Montreal.

Ellis will be an unrestricted free agent Thursday. Assuming he signs, his acquisition apparently puts to rest the notion of the Habs signing Martin Biron as Carey Price's backup that has been getting a lot of play in recent days. Biron, of course, is likely the Sabres'  top free-agent choice to replace Patrick Lalime as Ryan Miller's backup.

Ellis'  Twitter account seems to indicate he's thrilled with the deal and wants to get a contract done.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Stars say no to Modano

Mike Modano may not have his mind officially made up on retirement but his decision might have gotten a little easier when the Dallas Stars announced today they will not offer him a contract for next season. 

Modano is a lock Hall of Famer as the all-time American-born leader in goals (557) and points (1,359). He's the Stars' franchise leader in several statistical categories, including games (1,479), goals, assists (802) and points. After 21 seasons, Modano is the team's last link to its days in Minnesota and he joins Jere Lehtinen are the only links to the 1999 Dallas team that won the No Goal Stanley Cup over the Sabres.

GM Joe Nieuwendyk said he wants Modano to join the team in a front-office role -- whenever his career is over -- but Nieuwendyk told the Dallas Morning News he understands the 40-year-old may take a Ray Bourque-like stab at another Stanley Cup with another team. Modano made $2.25 million last season, collecting 14 goals and 16 assists in 59 games.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Clock ticking for Hank and Toni

We're two days away from the start of the free agency period and it's likely that Sabres defensemen Henrik Tallinder and Toni Lydman will be testing the market. GM Darcy Regier certainly set up fans for that eventuality with his comments following the draft Saturday in Los Angeles.  The salary cap is going up to $59.5 million -- bet the Sabres never had that figure on their radar in their planning the last few years! -- and Lydman and Tallinder both might now be $4 million a year players.

The Sabres, of course, remain interested in both players but the best-case scenario is probably that they find a way to keep one or the other. 

Tallinder's agent, Don Meehan, said negotiations with the Sabres are far from closed in this email comment to The News this morning: "We may very well have further discussions with Buffalo before July 1 and even after." Meehan, however, did sound a more ominous note when he seconded Reiger's notion by saying, "It is helpful that the cap will be over 59 million so I believe the market for Henrik will be healthy."

Lydman's agent, Larry Kelly, has yet to respond to phone and e-mail inquiries from The News. 

It's a decent free-agent market for defenseman, as this NHL.com story illustrates. If the Sabres lose both of their incumbents, it would nice to see them try to get involved with the likes of Sergei Gonchar, Paul Martin or Anton Volchenkov. But that, of course, would be the kind of big-ticket item they normally don't shoot for. We'll see. Have your say in our poll below.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Prospect camp opens July 5

Mark your calendars for your first look at the Sabres' prospects. The team announced late Monday afternoon that its annual development camp will run July 5-9 at Niagara University's Dwyer Arena. There will be an on-ice session each day open to the public featuring the camp's 42 prospects. Top choice Mark Pysyk is scheduled to attend. Public workouts are currently slated for the following times:

---Monday July 5, 11:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
---Tuesday, July 6, 3:30-4:45 p.m.
---Wednesday, July 7, 4-5:30 p.m.
---Thursday, July 8, 4-6:30 p.m.
---Friday, July 9, 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Turco turns down Flyers; Kotalik waived

You can't expect the Flyers to go into next season thinking Michael Leighton is the answer in goal but they're not doing well so far in efforts to land a big-ticket replacement. Looks like trying to get the rights to San Jose's Evgeni Nabakov is a dead end, and the Philadelphia Inquirer is quoting an ESPN report that Dallas' Marty Turco has turned down a three-year deal in the $6 million range.

The Flyers apparently got permission from Dallas to negotiate with Turco even though the official free agent period doesn't begin until Thursday. The Flyers are likely to continue to talk with both goalies and with defensemen as well. They couldn't make a deal with Dan Hamhuis in that area.

Five players were waived Monday, notably ex-Sabre Ales Kotalik of Calgary and Jonathan Cheechoo of  Ottawa, who never panned out as part of the Dany Heatley trade with San Jose. The players are expected to have their contract buyouts paid if they are not claimed and then enter the UFA pool on Thursday.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Sabres still believe in speed

LOS ANGELES -- The Sabres drafted a few big forwards, getting 6-foot-5 Cedrick Henley and 6-4 Riley Boychuk in the later rounds. Still, it appears they have no desire to ignore the speedy, skill guys around which they like to build their team.

The Sabres didn’t have a second-round pick, but they almost moved up to take Swedish mite Calle Jarnkrok, a 5-foot-11, 156-pound center.

"There was one player that we gave some consideration to. Ultimately, Detroit took him [51st overall]," Sabres GM Darcy Regier said. "I think you have to be careful. You really have to want someone before you use additional picks to move up. I think there obviously is a case to be made for doing that, but Kevin [Devine, the director of amateur scouting] and his staff felt very comfortable with the group of players that he had."

---John Vogl

Devine wraps up the 2010 draft

LOS ANGELES -- Kevin Devine, the Sabres' director of amateur scouting, gave his views on the 2010 NHL draft. Although the Sabres came to L.A. looking for forwards, they just had too many defensemen fall to them, he said. The audio is below.

---John Vogl

Pittsburgh selects Lancaster's Rogalski

LOS ANGELES -- Joe Rogalski, an 18-year-old from Lancaster, is now a Pittsburgh prospect. The Penguins selected the defenseman with the second pick of the sixth round, No. 152 overall.

Rogalski, 6-1 and 195 pounds, has spent three seasons with the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League.

---John Vogl

Gauthier-Leduc interview

LOS ANGELES -- Here's the brief chat with the Sabres' first third-round pick, Jerome Gauthier-Leduc. He's about as French Canadian as you can get.

---John Vogl

Live from Day Two of the draft

LOS ANGELES -- Good morning from L.A., or afternoon I guess back home. Unlike last night, the draft is flying already. It started just 17 minutes ago, and there have already been 12 picks. The NHL didn't have one pick gone in 17 minutes during Round One.

Speaking of Round One, here's the link to the final-edition story about the Sabres' first-round pick, Mark Pysyk, just in case you logged on before 11 a.m. Eastern (the early story was still up then).

Much quieter here in Staples Center, as the top level is empty except for ushers standing there with nothing to do.

Here's a few tidbits from the first round while waiting for the third, when the Sabres have three picks:

*A record-tying 10 American-born players were selected (and the U.S. development program is having an early run in Round Two).

*Two Californians were picked in the first round, most ever, to treat the L.A. faithful.

*The top eight picks play juniors in Canada.

1:28 p.m.: For more on Pysyk, here's a story from Dan Barnes of the Edmonton Journal that ran the morning of the draft.

1:32 p.m.: Phoenix has selected Phil Lane with the 52nd pick. He is an alumni of the Buffalo Junior Sabres.

1:46: We're into the third round. Sabres pick 68th, 75th and 83rd. We're on 64 now.

1:53 p.m.: The Sabres pick Jerome Gauthier-Leduc, a high-scoring defenseman.

2:05 p.m.: With their second third-round pick, the Sabres select Kevin Sundher, a center.

2:11 p.m.: With their third third-round pick, the Sabres select another defenseman, Matt MacKenzie. For a team looking for forwards, that's three of four defense selections.

2:24 p.m.: Here's the link to the interview with Gauthier-Leduc.

2:33 p.m.: The Sabres' fourth-round pick is Steven Shipley, a center for Owen Sound who was rated 43rd and fell to 98th.

3:04 p.m.: We're into Round Five here in L.A., where very few prospects have turned out. In Montreal and Ottawa the previous two years there was applause and hugs for most of the picks, while here there's nothing. Only Gauthier-Leduc is here among the Sabres' picks.

3:22 p.m.: The Sabres have used the 143rd pick (their fifth-rounder) on Gregg Sutch, a winger.

3:25 p.m.: My buddy Kris Baker of SabresProspects.com tells me -- and this Toronto Star story confirms -- that Sutch is nearly deaf.

3:30 p.m.: We're into Round Six.

3:48 p.m.: Staples Center gets possibly the loudest of the day as fans discover somehow that the United States has scored to tie its World Cup game. Goallllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll!

3:52 p.m.: Darcy Regier is on his cell phone with the Sabres five picks away from their sixth-round selection.

4:01 p.m.: The Sabres go big with 6-foot-5 forward Cedrick Henley. Here's a little on the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League player.

4:07 p.m.: And we're into the seventh and final round. The Sabres have two picks.

4:31 p.m.: The Sabres use the 203rd overall pick on Christian Isackson, a Minnesota high schooler.

4:34 p.m.: Buffalo's final pick of the 2010 draft is another 6-5 forward, Riley Boychuk.

4:37 p.m.: That's it for the live blog. I'll have audio from amateur scouting director Kevin Devine up after our chat.

---John Vogl

Regier surprised by lack of trades

LOS ANGELES -- Count Darcy Regier among those surprised by the lack of trades at the NHL draft so far.

"There were a lot of conversations over the last few days about players being moved, and it didn’t happen," Regier said following Round One in Staples Center. " Maybe the ask was too high. Teams in some cases were looking for first-round picks for players that everyone knows they’re either in a cap situation, they’re in a tough spot, and I think it’s good they didn’t get off the hook by collecting a bunch of first-round picks."

Regier said he's more interested in getting players than losing them.

"Our discussions were more about acquisitions than they were about moving someone out, so we’ve been focusing more on acquiring as opposed to trading someone," he said.

---John Vogl

Devine, Regier speak about Pysyk

LOS ANGELES -- Kevin Devine, the Sabres' director of amateur scouting, and General Manager Darcy Regier were pleased defenseman Mark Pysyk fell to them at the 23rd pick. Their interviews are below.

---John Vogl

 

Kevin Devine

 

 

Darcy Regier

Mark Pysyk interview

LOS ANGELES -- Here is the audio from the interview with Sabres first-round pick Mark Pysyk. Funny, well-spoken kid.

---John Vogl

Live from the 2010 draft

LOS ANGELES -- Greetings from the floor of the Staples Center, where the GMs are chatting, scouts are sweating and media members are watching the flesh-pushing trying to gather whether every extended handshake between general managers means a trade is on the way.

Nothing yet on that front. We'll have more soon. I see Scott Arniel and have to go congratulate him on the new head coaching job in Columbus.

6:27 p.m.: This has been the worst-kept secret for months, but it's pretty obvious the Sabres are returning full time to their vintage logo and dumping the slug. All the "primary" jerseys have been deeply discounted at the Sabres' Store since the season ended, and there's no sign of that logo anywhere. The placard on the Sabres' table has the vintage logo, and the flag waving above the stage is the buffalo and crossed sabres, as is the little logo on the draft board.

So, in other words, the 40th season uniforms will look a lot like the first season.

6:34 p.m.: Still no deals, but one significant signing in the Northeast Division as the Bruins are keeping Mark Recchi for at least one more season. The 42-year-old certainly proved his worth during the first-round playoff victory over the Sabres.

6:38 p.m.: Big roar from the seats behind me, so I look to see what the commotion is, and as nice little bonus to the stellar week in Vegas and L.A., it's the Kings Ice Crew throwing shirts to the crowd. This town has talent.

6:41 p.m.: Darcy Reiger is chatting with the Flames' Darryl Sutter.

6:42 p.m.: Ryan Miller's West Coast swing continues as the Sabres' Vezina-winning goaltender is with the scouts, Regier and coach Lindy Ruff.

6:47 p.m.: Not a bad little crowd here in the arena as we hit about 15 minutes to show time. It's not packed like Montreal and Ottawa the past two years, but I'm sure no one expected it to be. But the 300 level is filled, as are the lower sections farthest away from the draft stage. The prospects and their friends and families are slowly filling in the 100 level.

6:52 p.m.: The teams are conducting the roll call, and it's a roar as they get to the Kings. Loud ovation for the Oilers earlier, too, as the fans have turned out to see them pick first overall.

7:04 p.m.: Rumors swirling that the Panthers are sending defenseman and former Sabres prospect Keith Ballard to Vancouver for short-time Sabres forward Steve Bernier and the 25th overall pick. We'll have confirmation once the television intro is over and the draft really gets swinging.

7:13 p.m.: Gary Bettman steps to the podium and, of course, gets booed.

7:15 p.m.: ESPN's Pierre LeBrun, who I haven't seen without his phone all week, reports that Florida trades Ballard and prospect Victor Oreskovich to Vancouver for Bernier, Michael Grabner and the Canucks' first-round pick, but it is conditional on the player Florida wants being available at 25.

7:18 p.m.: The Oilers make Taylor Hall the first overall pick, as expected.

7:22 p.m.: The Bruins are on the clock, and it would be a shock if they didn't go with Tyler Seguin.

7:26 p.m.: Boston does indeed select Seguin.

7:45 p.m.: While I was in the back hall interviewing Hall and Seguin, the Florida Panthers picked defenseman Erik Gudbranson third overall and the Columbus Blue Jackets just selected Ryan Johansen with the fourth pick. He was rated just 10th by Central Scouting, but my childhood buddy Kris Baker of SabresProspects.com said Johansen had a great second half to shoot up folks' draft boards.

7:48 p.m.: You can see our draft chart here.

7:55 p.m.: This is taking much longer than I remember from the previous two years. The Islanders select Nino Niederreiter. Profiles compiled by the NHL on these prospects can be found here.

8:05 p.m.: Tampa Bay selects Brett Connolly at No. 6.

8:07 p.m.: I don't see Regier at the Sabres' table, and I saw them readying a hat and jersey. Interesting. Quite possibly meaningless, but interesting nonetheless.

8:13 p.m.: Well, Regier is making his way back to the table as the Hurricanes select Jeff Skinner. Regier immediately went to chat with coach Lindy Ruff.

8:20 p.m.: Regier has finally returned to his seat on the opposite side of the table from Ruff as the Thrashers use the eighth pick on Alexander Burmistrov.

8:25 p.m.: Minnesota takes Finn Mikael Granlund, the top-rated European skater.

8:33 p.m.: The Rangers go with defenseman Dylan McIlrath, continuing an unexpected drop for Windsor blue-liner Cam Fowler.

8:38 p.m.: The first goalie is off the board as Dallas selects American world juniors backstop Jack Campbell. Solid choice for an organization that is ending the Marty Turco era.

8:41 p.m.: Ear-ringing boos from the L.A. folks as the neighboring Anaheim Ducks go on the clock.

8:45 p.m.: Scoreboard shows a guy with a Ducks '07 champion jersey and the place goes bonkers. Was unable to heard the Ducks' pick over the booing, but the board says they finally took Fowler off the board. He might be able to step in immediately following the recent retirement of Scott Niedermayer.

8:53 p.m.: Regier is back from another stroll, and he has a big smile.

8:55 p.m.: Run on defensemen as Phoenix picks Brandon Gormley with the 13th pick. It's likely the Sabres will have to go with the best available forward at this rate.

9:04 p.m.: We're nearing the halfway point as S. Louis selects Jaden Schwartz with the 14th pick. I'm beginning to worry a bit about the Sabres drafting before tonight's deadline ...

9:09 p.m.: Genuine excitement in the building as the Panthers trade the 15th pick to the Kings for the 19th selection and the 59th pick. The Kings pick U.S. defenseman Derek Forbort, disappointing some who were hoping for California-born Emerson Etem.

9:12 p.m.: Fans go bonkers again as Forbort gets handed the retro purple and gold jersey instead of the next black one for the first photo op.

9:20 p.m.: Ottawa acquires David Rundblad, chosen 17th by St. Louis last year, and gives the Blues the 16th pick. They take Russian Vladimir Tarasenko, the second-ranked European.

9:22 p.m.: The Sabres are seven picks away.

9:28 p.m.: Joey Hishon goes to Colorado with the 17th pick.

9:33 p.m.: Nashville picks Austin Watson, whom Bakes tells me was traded for Zack Kassian during the OHL season.

9:36 p.m.: Florida takes a player who would have fit in well with the Sabres, big Minnesota high school center Nick Bjugstad.

9:40 p.m.: We've got Pittsburgh, Detroit, Phoenix and Buffalo in the next four.

9:43 p.m.: The Pens go with California-born Beau Bennett, getting a rise from several sections of the crowd.

9:45 p.m.: Two teams to go before Buffalo, and the player who makes the most sense -- St. Catharines-born center Riley Sheahan, is still available.

9:49 p.m.: Frowns and head-shaking at the Sabres' table as the Red Wings take Sheahan.

9:54 p.m.: Regier is on the phone ...

9:55 p.m.: He got off the phone and shook his head in a negative manner with scout Nik Fattey directly to his right.

9:56 p.m.: Phoenix sends the 22nd pick and the 113th to Montreal for the 27th and the 57th.

9:59 p.m.: the Habs pick Jarred Tinordi, another big American defenseman. Regier has the Sabres' ceremonial jersey in his hand, so it looks like the Sabres will indeed pick next.

10:01 p.m.: A few people applaud as Bettman announces the Sabres are up.

10:10 p.m.: After a long TV wait, the Sabres pick defenseman Mark Pysyk of the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League.

10:44 p.m.: Here is the link to the post-selection audio with Pysyk. Funny, well-spoken kid. Here's his Central Scouting profile.

10:50 p.m.: The Ducks make the place a madhouse by selecting California's Etem. Only one pick left.

11:09 p.m.: The draft is over till the morning, as is this blog. I will have audio from Darcy Reiger and Kevin Devine up soon. In one last bit of news, the Sabres have sent out qualifying offers to all their restricted free agents with the exception of Matt Generous and Mike Kostka.

---John Vogl

Hits to the head will be penalized

LOS ANGELES -- Blindside hits to the head will have immediate repercussions after the NHL board of governors approved a rule for next season that will hand out five-minute majors and game misconducts. The original rule that was worked in late last season called for only supplemental discipline (suspensions).

The league and the NHLPA also announced that next season's salary cap will be $59.4 million, up from $56.8 million. Teams must maintain a minimum payroll of $43.4 million.

---John Vogl

Kaberle still drawing interest

LOS ANGELES -- We're a few hours away from the start of the draft (7 p.m. Eastern time, 4 p.m. in L.A.), and Tomas Kaberle is still a Maple Leaf. There are still signs that may change. The power-play defenseman is on the wish list of many teams, including the Sabres.

"We have four hard offers, concrete offers," Toronto General Manager Brian Burke said.

If none blow him away, however, Burke may hold on to Kaberle for a little longer.

"This is not a transaction that's draft specific -- one of our priorities is not to get draft picks if we move Tomas Kaberle," Burke said. "That's our top priority: to find a top-six forward who can score. If he comes with some size, all the better. If draft picks come as part of another deal, fine. It's not a priority. But people should figure out ... we're trying to get better right now. Draft picks don't help me right now."

---John Vogl

Ramsay, Foligno get coaching jobs

LOS ANGELES -- Craig Ramsay is back as a bench boss. The former Sabres player and coach has been hired to be the head coach of the Atlanta Thrashers. He joins General Manager Rick Dudley.

The Anaheim Ducks, meanwhile, have hired Mike Foligno as an assistant coach.

---John Vogl

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John Vogl

John Vogl

John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

@BuffNewsVogl | jvogl@buffnews.com

About Sabres Edge


Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.

@BNHarrington | mharrington@buffnews.com


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | amoritz@buffnews.com

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