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NHL officially releases draft order; Sabres hold 10 picks, ranging from Nos. 8 to 189

By John Vogl

The NHL needed to wait for the Stanley Cup finals to end before officially releasing the draft order. The list is out. Colorado kicks things off with the first overall pick, and the Cup champs in Chicago will end the proceedings with selection No. 211.

The Sabres will pick 10 times. They have two picks in each of the first two rounds, three picks in the fifth round and one pick each in rounds three, six and seven. They do not have a fourth-round pick.

Continue reading "NHL officially releases draft order; Sabres hold 10 picks, ranging from Nos. 8 to 189" »

Sabres to re-broadcast nine games from 2013 season

By John Vogl

The Sabres won only 21 games last season. They've picked nine as their best and will re-broadcast them on MSG.

The two-hour, condensed broadcasts begin at 8 p.m. Monday and will run every week through Aug. 26 on MSG. The games, in order of airing, are: Tampa Bay (played Feb. 26), Florida (Feb. 28), New Jersey (March 2), New York Rangers (March 12), Montreal (March 19), Toronto (March 21), Montreal (March 23), Pittsburgh (April 23) and New York Islanders (April 26).

Road to the NHL Draft: Adam Erne

By John Vogl

Adam Erne

Position: Left wing

Junior team: Quebec (QMJHL)

Born: New Haven, Conn.

Measurables: 6-foot, 210 pounds

2012-13 stats: 68 games, 28 goals, 44 assists, 72 points

Central Scouting rank: No. 26 (North America)

Lowdown: Erne looks like a power forward with his stocky frame, but that impression lasts only until he hits the ice. Then he’s a speed demon who likes to play a fast game and has the wheels to do so. His skating ability helps him win races to the puck, and his size allows him to keep it. Erne has a strong shot and deft passing ability.

The well-traveled winger has played in Connecticut, California, Indiana and Quebec, and he feels as if the moves have helped him mature faster. He’s not afraid to let loose with practical jokes, though. Remparts teammate Kurt Etchegary once reached for a towel following a shower and soon discovered Erne had covered it with baby powder.

The linemate of Sabres prospect Mikhail Grigorenko needs to become more consistent. Though there have been questions about his conditioning, he excelled in the endurance bike test at the NHL Scouting Combine.

They said it: "Erne’s a highly competitive kid. He’s got real good speed. He’s really thick. At times, he’s very explosive. Every once in a while you won’t notice him in a game, but most of the times he’s a goal scorer. … He’s a first-round player, for sure.” – Kevin Devine, Sabres director of amateur scouting.

The Buffalo News is profiling 30 prospects in 30 days leading up to the NHL draft June 30.

A look back at the Blackhawks' Cup win and Kane's MVP performance

By John Vogl

The Stanley Cup is back in Chicago, which means it is expected to come back to Buffalo this summer.

South Buffalo's Patrick Kane, the Conn Smythe winner as playoff MVP, will again get a day with the Cup. When Chicago won in 2010, Kane took the trophy on visits to Niagara Falls, Roswell Park, an Ironworkers construction site and New Era Cap Co., among other stops. The dates that players will get the Cup will be announced at a later date.

Bucky Gleason writes in today's editions of The Buffalo News that Kane already has built a resume that would be considered for the Hall of Fame if his career ended today.

Continue reading "A look back at the Blackhawks' Cup win and Kane's MVP performance" »

Road to the NHL Draft: Alexander Wennberg

By John Vogl

Alexander Wennberg

Position: Center

Foreign team: Djurgarden (Sweden)

Born: Stockholm

Measurables: 6-foot-1, 174 pounds

2012-13 stats: 46 games, 14 goals, 18 assists, 32 points

Central Scouting rank: No. 5 (European)

Lowdown: Wennberg has knowledge of all three forward positions, but his skill set works best at center. He’s a speedy, shifty skater who remains calm with the puck. He likes to play at a quick pace and had a high shooting percentage by getting to the scoring areas.

Wennberg’s team played in Sweden’s second division, so he hasn’t faced the same level of adult competition as other top Europeans. He excelled with Djurgarden, though, and led the team with four game-winning goals. He can take care of the defensive zone and has garnered a reputation as a two-way player.

He’s reportedly signed a two-year contract with Frolunda of the Swedish elite league, so he wouldn’t be ready for the NHL until 2015.

They said it: "Excellent skater who has a free and easy stride with excellent quickness and a change of pace. Is capable of keeping defenders on their heels. He can open up ice and space for himself with his skating.” – Craig Button, former Calgary general manager, on TSN.ca.

The Buffalo News is profiling 30 prospects in 30 days leading up to the NHL draft June 30.

Road to the NHL Draft: Mirco Mueller

By John Vogl

Mirco Mueller

Position: Defense

Junior team: Everett (WHL)

Born: Winterthur, Switzerland

Measurables: 6-foot-3, 176 pounds

2012-13 stats: 63 games, 6 goals, 25 assists, 31 points

Central Scouting rank: No. 9 (North America)

Lowdown: Mueller is a first-round talent according to NHL Central Scouting. He’s a third-rounder, at best, according to others. Either way, he’ll hear his name called.

There’s not much wrong with Mueller. There’s also no standout trait that makes him a lock to succeed. He skates very well, though he had a tendency to go sideways – a carryover from his time on larger European rinks. He played in the Swiss elite league as a 16-year-old before deciding to head to North America.

Moving was a good choice as his draft stock rose from unknown to much-discussed. He’s not afraid to tangle with opponents. He’s discovering how to play offense, and his smooth stride helps. He will continue to learn by playing against the best as international opportunities abound with Swiss national teams. He’s got plenty of endurance based on his NHL Combine bike ride of 14:30, the best among the prospects.

He said it: "I can see plays happen before they happen, so most of the time I’m in the right position to make a play. Scoring goals is another person’s job." – Mueller to the Hockey News.

The Buffalo News is profiling 30 prospects in 30 days leading up to the NHL draft June 30.

Road to the NHL Draft: Zach Nastasiuk

By John Vogl

Zach Nastasiuk

Position: Right wing

Junior team: Owen Sound (OHL)

Born: Barrie, Ont.

Measurables: 6-foot-1, 192 pounds

2012-13 stats: 62 games, 20 goals, 20 assists, 40 points

Central Scouting rank: No. 13 (North America)

Lowdown: Sabres scouts who kept tabs on 2011 draft pick Daniel Catenacci this season got a good look at Nastasiuk, too. The duo helped lead Owen Sound to a 44-18-6 record. Catenacci led the Attack with 79 points, while Nastasiuk finished fourth. The roles were reversed in the playoffs as Nastasiuk paced his team with 11 points, including four goals, in 12 games.

The son of a Canadian Football League player jumped 20 spots from his NHL Central Scouting midterm rank of 33. He gets high marks for his hockey sense and competitive fire. He’s strong and wants to get better.

There are doubts whether he can turn into a scorer. He’s not the most creative player with the puck. His skating is suspect.

They said it: "Into the playoffs he was the guy that was driving the ship. Along the wall he’s strong as an ox, down low he’s strong. You can’t get the puck off him, and he’s the guy that can go into the corners get to the pucks first and feed it out to the guys. He’s got a little bit of an underrated skill set." – Dan Marr, director of NHL Central Scouting, to the Montreal Gazette.

The Buffalo News is profiling 30 prospects in 30 days leading up to the NHL draft June 30.

Road to the NHL Draft: Elias Lindholm

By John Vogl

Elias Lindholm

Position: Center

Foreign team: Brynas (Sweden)

Born: Boden, Sweden

Measurables: 6-foot, 181 pounds

2012-13 stats: 48 games, 11 goals, 19 assists, 30 points

Central Scouting rank: No. 3 (European)

Lowdown: Lindholm continually excels outside his peer group. He was a 16-year-old star playing against 18-year-olds, tore up an under-20 league as a 17-year-old and performed admirably this season against men while turning 18. The progression should continue once he reaches the NHL.

Lindholm is a two-way center who has drawn comparisons to countryman Peter Forsberg. He has outstanding passing vision, and he knows how to find the net. He’s averaged 14 goals, 33 assists and 47 points in 41 games the past three seasons while steadily climbing the competition ladder. What sets Lindholm apart is his defensive awareness. He knows what to do at both ends of the ice.

Lindholm isn’t a big middle man, but he could fill out. He learned to sidestep checks in the Swedish elite league. He intends to play at least one more season with Brynas, according to TSN, so teams who want him in North America immediately might take a pass.

They said it: "He can be a tremendous player. He has the smartness and he has the grit to play. He has the most important combination, and that is both the will to compete hard and the smarts to be a really good player." – Roger Ronnberg, Lindholm’s coach on Sweden’s world junior team, to Yahoo.com.

The Buffalo News is profiling 30 prospects in 30 days leading up to the NHL draft June 30.

Ruff shows his wit, passion to coach in accepting job with Stars

By John Vogl

When Dallas General Manager Jim Nill began interviews for the Stars’ vacant coaching job, the first call went to Lindy Ruff.

“I said to Jim when I first agreed to meet with him, ‘I’ll meet with you, but we can’t meet in the crease,’” Ruff said Friday.

The history between Ruff and the team that earned a controversial Stanley Cup victory over him in 1999 is unavoidable. Ruff also can’t hide his passion to coach. The present took precedence over the past as Ruff has agreed to become the Stars’ bench boss.

Continue reading "Ruff shows his wit, passion to coach in accepting job with Stars" »

Road to the NHL Draft: Juuse Saros

By John Vogl

Juuse Saros

Position: Goaltender

Foreign team: HPK-Jr. (Finland)

Born: Forssa, Finland

Measurables: 5-foot-9, 161 pounds

2012-13 stats: 37 games, 1.86 GAA, .933 save pct.

Central Scouting rank: No. 1 (European)

Lowdown: Goaltending has become a tall man’s position. Scouts drool when prospects resemble 6-foot-3 Carey Price or 6-2 Ryan Miller. Europeans such as Saros and the Sabres’ Jhonas Enroth (5-10) are doing their best to prove size isn’t everything. Saros has stood tall so far.

The Finnish phenom backstopped his country to a bronze medal at the under-18 world championships, making 24 saves against host Russia in the third-place game. His best outing came during the preliminary round when he stymied the United States with 49 stops during a 2-1 upset of the Americans. He finished the tournament at 5-2-1 with a 1.86 goals-against average and .946 save percentage.

Saros excels at stopping rebounds. He was the best goalie in Finland’s junior league, but he’s yet to face adult competition. The inexperience and lack of size are his main drawbacks.

They said it: "He had a great season, has extremely quick reactions and reads the game very well. He's the No. 1 goalie prospect in Europe. He was good last year but has been sensational this season.” – Goran Stubb, NHL director of European Scouting, to NHL.com.

The Buffalo News is profiling 30 prospects in 30 days leading up to the NHL draft June 30.

It's official: Stars hire Lindy Ruff as coach

By John Vogl

One of the Sabres' exes lives in Texas.

The Dallas Stars have officially named Lindy Ruff as their next head coach, following up on statements made Thursday by President Jim Lites that a deal was imminent. The Stars and General Manager Jim Nill will introduce Ruff at a 1 p.m. news conference.

“I am honored to be joining the Dallas Stars organization,” Ruff said in a statement released this morning. “After speaking at length with Jim Nill, it was clear that all the right pieces are coming together to return this club to the upper-echelon of the NHL. I look forward to leading its resurgence.”

Said Nill: “One of the trademarks of successful organizations is their ability to have continuity and stability for an extended period of time. It is clear from Lindy’s record, and from our own conversations, that we have found the right person to provide that stability and lead this club to the next level. His steady hand and experience will prove invaluable in returning our team as a top-tier contender in the NHL.”

Video: Jhonas Enroth and Sabres sign a 2-year contract extension

Sabres sign Jhonas Enroth to 2-year contract extension.

Video: Sabres' chances of moving up to top spots in the draft almost impossible

Sabres' GM Darcy Regier says it's extremely difficult, if not impossible, to move up to the top spots in the draft.

Report: Dallas Stars set to hire Lindy Ruff as coach

By John Vogl

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

Former Sabres coach Lindy Ruff, who suffered one of his most bitter defeats at the hands of the Dallas Stars in the 1999 Stanley Cup finals, is set to become the Stars' next coach, according to a report out of Texas.

"We respect Lindy a lot. I think he would be a great fit for us. I don't think the deal is done, but it would be a good thing for the Dallas Stars if he is hired,” Stars President Jim Lites told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I don't think there is anything standing in the way of it other than getting Jim and Lindy together on money."

The Sabres fired Ruff in February in his 16th season as head coach.

"If he's happy, I'm very happy for him," Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier said.

Sabres' Regier: It might be impossible to move up to top of NHL draft

By John Vogl

The Sabres' goal heading toward the NHL draft was to move up to the top and get an elite player. It appears the goal will go unfulfilled.

"To move up into those top spots will be extremely difficult if not impossible," General Manager Darcy Regier said today.

Regier spent Wednesday in Boston at the general managers' meetings, and he learned that the teams in the top four spots -- Colorado, Florida, Tampa Bay and Nashville -- have settled on making their picks.

The Sabres are set to pick eighth and 16th in the first round June 30 in New Jersey. Kevin Devine, Buffalo's director of amateur scouting, said the team would not move back from the No. 8 spot but could be willing to deal the 16th pick for extra selections.

Though they won't get an elite player at the top, the Sabres feel they'll get important contributors in the first round.

"We're going to get two good players," Devine said. "At the eight pick, we're looking at a top-6 forward or a top-four defenseman.

"What we'd have to give up to get that franchise player would also set us back depth-wise."

The Sabres are still examining their options regarding Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller. Their agents told The Buffalo News today that there have not been contract talks with the Sabres.

"Ideally, I would like to keep them here, yes. Both of them," Regier said in First Niagara Center. "But again, we have to look at it in the context of when they can become unrestricted, whether or not we have the ability to do deals with them and then the cost of those deals, if we do. That all gets mixed into the decision."

Agents for Vanek, Miller: No talks with Sabres

By John Vogl

The Sabres say they are interested in keeping Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller around. So far, they haven't tried to extend the contract of either one.

Buffalo's franchise goaltender and leading scorer are set to enter the final season of their deals. Though teams cannot re-sign players until July 1 of their last year, they can negotiate and agree to extensions, as evidenced by Pittsburgh's pending contract with Evgeni Malkin.

"I have not personally talked to the Sabres but expect to see them at Draft," Steve Bartlett, Vanek's agent, said via email today. "No special agenda though."

"Nothing in the way of an extension," wrote Mike Liut, the agent for Miller.

Continue reading "Agents for Vanek, Miller: No talks with Sabres" »

Sabres re-sign Enroth to two-year contract

By John Vogl

Jhonas Enroth, who might inherit the Sabres' starting goaltending role, has signed a two-year contract with the team.

Enroth was set to become a restricted free agent this summer. Contract details were not immediately available. Enroth, who turns 25 next week, made $675,000 the past two years.

Enroth was 4-4-1 with a 2.60 goals-against average and .919 save percentage this season. He has played 53 games in the NHL with a 21-18-7 record, 2.72 GAA and .914 save percentage.

The Sabres' second-round selection in the 2006 NHL draft was named the top goaltender at the world championships this spring after leading Sweden to the gold medal. He went 5-2-1 with a 1.15 goals-against average and .956 save percentage as the co-hosts knocked off Canada, Finland and Switzerland in the elimination round.

Buffalo's No. 1 netminder, Ryan Miller, is set to enter the final season of his contract and is on the trade market.

Road to the NHL Draft: Hunter Shinkaruk

By John Vogl

Hunter Shinkaruk

Position: Forward

Junior team: Medicine Hat (WHL)

Born: Calgary, Alberta

Measurables: 5-foot-10, 181 pounds

2012-13 stats: 64 games, 37 goals, 49 assists, 86 points

Central Scouting rank: No. 6

Lowdown: There’s more to hockey than scoring, but it’s still the main goal. Goals are Shinkaruk’s ultimate goal, too. The center is as offensive-minded as they come, with good reason. He filled the net 49 times last year while skating alongside Emerson Etem, who advanced to Anaheim this season. Shinkaruk barely missed a beat without the pro prospect, scoring 37 goals to show he wasn’t merely Etem’s sidekick.

Shinkaruk is explosive, agile and highly skilled. He’s the type of player who creates a buzz in the arena every time he gets the puck with open ice in front of him. He reminds many of Carolina’s Jeff Skinner, the 2011 NHL Rookie of the Year.

As can be expected with someone so focused on offense, defense is not Shinkaruk’s high point. He needs to get better without the puck. He’s also an October birthday, which means he’s spent much of his life competing against less-developed kids. Many things came too easy for the smallish forward.

He said it: "I watched a Daniel Briere interview once, and a lot of people say, ‘Act like you’ve been there before,’ and he said, ‘I’m going to celebrate like it’s the last goal I’m ever going to score.’ So when I score I want to make sure I enjoy it because there’s not many things I love more than scoring." – Shinkaruk in story at TheHockeyWriters.com.

The Buffalo News is profiling 30 prospects in 30 days leading up to the NHL draft June 30.

Amerks bringing a game back to Buffalo next season

By John Vogl

The Rochester Americans are coming back to Buffalo next season.

The Amerks announced six home dates today, including an appearance Oct. 30 in First Niagara Center. Rochester's home opener will be Oct. 4. The Amerks will play outdoors in Rochester's baseball stadium Dec. 13.

Ticket information and the full schedule will be released at a later date.

Happy anniversary, Sabres fans: 14 years since No Goal

By John Vogl

The most controversial play in Sabres history turns 14 years old today.

Yes, it's been 14 years since Brett Hull scored with his foot in the crease to give the Dallas Stars a Stanley Cup victory in Buffalo. The triple-overtime contest was June 19, 1999 -- a day that Buffalo sports fans will never forget.

In case you feel like reliving the moment, here are links to the stories and columns that ran in The Buffalo News following the game. There's also a 10-year anniversary story.

Continue reading "Happy anniversary, Sabres fans: 14 years since No Goal" »

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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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