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Road to the NHL Draft: Bo Horvat

By John Vogl

Bo Horvat

Position: Center

Junior team: London (OHL)

Born: Rodney, Ont.

Measurables: 6-foot, 206 pounds

2012-13 stats: 67 games, 33 goals, 28 assists, 61 points

Central Scouting rank: No. 15 (North America)

Lowdown: Horvat has experienced nothing but success since joining London two years ago, and he had a lot to do with it this season. He scored with 0.1 seconds left in Game Seven of the OHL finals to win the game and series, sending the Knights to the Memorial Cup for the second straight spring. It was the highlight of a dominating postseason. Horvat recorded 16 goals and 23 points in 21 games as folks marveled at his big-game ability.

Possibly the best faceoff man in the draft, Horvat loves the two-way game. He’s a stellar penalty-killer and shot-blocker who gets put on the ice in key situations. He scored 11 goals in his first season of junior hockey and tripled it this season.

Though he plays top-line minutes with London, some observers feel he’ll amount to a third-line center in the NHL.

They said it: "He does everything you like to see. His penalty killing is very good, blocking shots. He's effective every shift. He does something every shift to contribute to a win. He's got good skill. He's got pretty good finish around the net. I love his competitiveness." – Chris Edwards of NHL Central Scouting to

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

Report: Avs to pass on Seth Jones with first pick, select a forward

By John Vogl

The NHL draft was already interesting with trade talk and bona fide prospects. Colorado just added to the intrigue.

The Avalanche are set to pass on former Denver resident and No. 1-rated prospect Seth Jones with the first overall pick, according to the Denver Post. The defenseman seemed destined to return to the city where he fell in love with hockey, but the Avs like the potential of Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin and Aleksander Barkov.

"If we do pick first, we're leaning more toward one of those three forwards," Joe Sakic, executive vice president of hockey operations, told the Denver Post. "We feel those three forwards are just too good to pass up."

Continue reading "Report: Avs to pass on Seth Jones with first pick, select a forward" »

Huffington Post's Kanalley thrilled to take over Sabres' Twitter feed, move back to Buffalo

By John Vogl

When the Sabres announced they were hiring a social media manager, Craig Kanalley figured it would be a fantastic job for one of his friends or followers.

“I thought it was a great opportunity for someone, so I shared it out,” Kanalley said today.

The more Kanalley thought about the job, the more he wanted it for himself. The senior editor of the Huffington Post sent in his resume and started dreaming of a return to Buffalo.

No other applicant could match Kanalley’s social media background. He’ll leave New York City at the end of the month and join his favorite team July 1.

Continue reading "Huffington Post's Kanalley thrilled to take over Sabres' Twitter feed, move back to Buffalo" »

Pegula backs Regier as Sabres' GM; owner 'concerned' about status of Vanek, Miller

By John Vogl

Terry Pegula says he talks to Darcy Regier more than his own wife. The chats have convinced the Buffalo Sabres’ owner he has the right general manager despite a playoff history that suggests otherwise.

“He is a very qualified person,” Pegula said today during an appearance on the Sabres’ radio show. “I don’t want to talk about prior ownership. I have a different management style, and Darcy has a chance to flourish under our management style. I’m giving him, I believe, more latitude in the way we operate the team with less financial restrictions.

“When you look at the history, even with the Sabres, what’s he done wrong? Help me out here. I’m going to ask the question. You gonna talk about some of the past deals. Maybe someone was holding the painter’s hand while he was doing the painting.”

Continue reading "Pegula backs Regier as Sabres' GM; owner 'concerned' about status of Vanek, Miller" »

Road to the NHL Draft: Rasmus Ristolainen

By John Vogl

Rasmus Ristolainen

Position: Defense

Foreign team: TPS (Finland)

Born: Turku, Finland

Measurables: 6-foot-3, 201 pounds

2012-13 stats: 52 games, 3 goals, 12 assists, 15 points

Central Scouting rank: No. 4 (European)

Lowdown: Like other top-rated Europeans, the move to the NHL won’t be shocking for Ristolainen because he’s been playing against men in a pro league for two years. He’s actually been playing a lot. Ristolainen averaged more than 21 minutes per game while leading TPS’ defense corps in scoring. He also put up two goals and six points in six games at the world juniors.

Ristolainen doesn’t shy away from contact. The big-bodied Finn knows how to hit and can use his size and strength. He is adept at reading plays and makes solid decisions with the puck.

He’s not the best skater and could benefit by lengthening his strides. The Sabres have interest because he’s played alongside Buffalo prospect Joel Armia on national teams. The abundance of top-end forwards could push Ristolainen down the draft board.

They said it: "He's a mobile, strong, offensive-minded defenseman with very good puck-handling and passing skills. ... He knows how to use his size and strength. He's one of the best young defensemen in Europe in his age group. He's a leader on the ice and plays with confidence." – Goran Stubb, NHL director of European Scouting, to

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

Sabres' selection of Andreychuk voted as NHL's best No. 16 draft pick ever

By John Vogl

Dave Andreychuk was a steal at the NHL draft.

The big forward put up 58 goals and 101 points in 67 junior-league games heading into the 1982 selection process. Still, 15 players went before him.

The Sabres finally snatched him up at No. 16 after they'd taken Phil Housley at No. 6 and Paul Cyr at No. 9. Andreychuk went on to have a 1,639-game career with 640 goals, 698 assists and 1,338 points. He led his draft class in goals and was second in points to Doug Gilmour, who had 1,414 as a seventh-round selection by St. Louis., as a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first draft, is looking back at the best first-round selections. The panel has made the Andreychuk pick the best No. 16 ever.

Road to the NHL Draft: Ryan Hartman

By John Vogl

Ryan Hartman

Position: Right wing

Junior team: Plymouth (OHL)

Born: Hilton Head, S.C.

Measurables: 5-foot-11, 185 pounds

2012-13 stats: 56 games, 23 goals, 37 assists, 60 points

Central Scouting rank: No. 16

Lowdown: Many people speak highly of Hartman, but few are his opponents. He can be likened to the Sabres’ Patrick Kaleta. He’s an agitator of the highest degree who loves the sound and feel of a big hit. He finished second on Plymouth with six fighting majors and led the team with 120 penalty minutes. Skirmishes after the whistle were as frequent as the verbal barbs Hartman lobbed at his foes.

Hartman helped the United States win gold at the world junior tournament. While skating in the role of shutdown forward, he put up two goals and three points in seven games. He finished second on Plymouth in points and assists. The former member of the U.S. National Team Development Program brings a solid work ethic and rarely takes shifts off.

Hartman probably will not develop into a top-line scorer, but he can bring the intangibles and attitude that teams embrace. He had shoulder surgery after the season and will be sidelined until August.

He said it: "Lots of teams show interest, some teams don't. It's exciting to think about. It's going to be where you're playing for the rest of your life, maybe.” – Hartman, about the draft, to

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

Bruins, Blackhawks ready for Game Three in Boston

By John Vogl

A key question heading into Game Three of the Stanley Cup finals isn't who will win. It's when they will win.

Chicago and Boston have played parts of 10 periods, which normally equates to 3 1/2 games. Instead, the series is tied, 1-1, after Chicago won the opener in triple-overtime and Boston came back with an overtime win in Game Two.

The series shifts to Boston tonight. Chicago has lost Game Three in every series so far.

Here is the hometown look at the game, with the Boston Globe and Chicago Tribune.

Road to the NHL Draft: Kerby Rychel

By John Vogl

Kerby Rychel

Position: Left wing

Junior team: Windsor (OHL)

Born: Torrence, Calif.

Measurables: 6-foot-1, 205 pounds

2012-13 stats: 68 games, 40 goals, 47 assists, 87 points

Central Scouting rank: No. 17

Lowdown: Scoring 40 goals in consecutive seasons does a lot for a player’s draft stock, as Rychel can attest. He led Windsor with 41 tallies and 74 points last season, and he kept the production going this season to pace the Spitfires again. He has the size of a power forward and knows how to get to the right spots for a scoring chance.

Rychel is the son of former NHL forward Warren Rychel, who grinded out a 400-game career with stops in Chicago, Los Angeles, Toronto, Colorado and Anaheim. Warren Rychel is also the general manager in Windsor, and his acquisition of Kerby has obviously worked out.

Rychel needs to improve his skating. He’s often sluggish on starts. Though he’s handled expectations that come with being the son of an NHL player and OHL GM, he can be weighed down by the burden of carrying a team.

He said it: "I'm a two-way power forward who can be used in all situations. I think the coaches have a trust in me to play in all situations. Some people will nitpick at my game since they know who my dad is. But I don't play like him. I work hard like him, but I'm not a fighter. I'm more of a goal scorer and penalty killer." – Kerby Rychel to

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

Road to the NHL Draft: Aleksander Barkov

John Vogl

Aleksander Barkov

Position: Center

Foreign team: Tappara (Finland)

Born: Tampere, Finland

Measurables: 6-foot-2, 205 pounds

2012-13 stats: 53 games, 21 goals, 27 assists, 48 points

Central Scouting rank: No. 1 (European)

Lowdown: A 17-year-old isn’t supposed to dominate a men’s league. Barkov did. The big forward skated alongside former NHLer Ville Nieminen and never looked out of place, thrusting himself into the mix for a top-five selection at the draft.

Barkov’s father, Alexander, played 16 years in European leagues (often as a point-per-game player), and Barkov has lived up to the family name. He’s been competing against professionals since he was 16 and quickly developed the poise of a grown man. He’s been referred to as Saku Koivu with size.

“Sasha” had seven points in six games at the world junior championships on a team that boasted Joel Armia, the Sabres’ first-round pick in 2011. He’s a dependable faceoff man who has the vision to make the correct pass.

Barkov’s playoffs ended abruptly because of the need for shoulder surgery. He had it in April and will miss five months. He’s not the fastest skater.

They said it: "He always seemed to be in the right place at the right time. He's a very good stick-handler with great vision. He's one the better two-way players in this class and has shown more consistency than any other European over a full season." – Goran Stubb, NHL director of European Scouting, to

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

Former Sabres defenseman Brennan on the move again

By John Vogl

T.J. Brennan is joining his third organization in three months.

Brennan, the Sabres' top pick in the 2007 draft, has been dealt from Florida to Nashville for forward Bobby Butler. Buffalo sent Brennan to Florida in March for a fifth-round selection in this year's draft.

Brennan totaled three goals and 10 points in 29 games this season, including two goals and seven assists in 19 games with the Panthers.

Butler has 20 goals and 48 points in 128 NHL games with Ottawa, New Jersey and Nashville.

Sabres' prospects getting skating lessons from Dawn Braid

By John Vogl

John Tavares went from talented hockey player to MVP candidate under the tutelage of skating coach Dawn Braid. The Sabres hope their prospects can take a similar leap.

Many of the Sabres' future players are in town this week to take part in a skating clinic. Braid, who is employed by Buffalo as a skating coach, is giving the lessons.

The sessions have been off-limits to observers.

The Sabres' annual development camp, which is typically open to the public, will return July 8-13.

Road to the NHL Draft: Ryan Pulock

By John Vogl

Ryan Pulock

Position: Defense

Junior team: Brandon (WHL)

Born: Dauphin, Manitoba

Measurables: 6-foot, 211 pounds

2012-13 stats: 61 games, 14 goals, 31 assists, 45 points

Central Scouting rank: No. 12 (North America)

Lowdown: It’s a fun moment when Pulock gets the puck at the point. Folks inhale deeply, then freeze as they watch him wind up. His slap shot – clocked at 102 mph in a Brandon skills competition – is world class. The cannon makes opponents wince in multiple ways. They block it and get bruised, or it reaches the net for a scoring opportunity. Even the puck doesn’t find the twine, goaltenders have trouble handling it and rebound chances abound.

Pulock has 33 goals and 72 assists over the past two seasons, making him one of the most dangerous scoring threats from the blue line in junior hockey. He produced this season despite battling a wrist injury for much of the year.

The ailment caused his stock to drop. Central Scouting had him at No. 6 in the midterm rankings. Pulock is not blessed with size or speed, which has led to conflicting scouting reports on his long-term ability. He played forward for much of his life and is still learning the defensive game.

They said it: "He passes the puck very well, plays a pretty simple game, and is very good on the power play. When he’s at the top of his game, he can make the game look pretty easy. He’s our captain, and he’s very respected by his teammates for his desire to get better and improve." -- Brandon General Manager Kelly McCrimmon to

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

NHL set to begin handing out awards today, will finish Saturday

By John Vogl

One of the casualties of the lockout was the NHL Awards Show, so the league will hand out the hardware over the course of two days. It'll start today.

The NHL will announce the winners of the Bill Masterton Memorial, Frank J. Selke, King Clancy and Lady Byng trophies, and the Jack Adams, Mark Messier NHL Leadership, NHL Foundation Player and General Manager of the Year awards at 5 p.m. on NHL Network and

The Hart Memorial, Calder Memorial, James Norris Memorial and Vezina trophies, along with the Ted Lindsay Award, will be revealed at 7 p.m. Saturday on NBC Sports Network and CBC.

The finalists:

Continue reading "NHL set to begin handing out awards today, will finish Saturday" »

Buffalo finishes fourth in U.S. in TV ratings for Game One of Stanley Cup

By John Vogl

Hockey fans in Buffalo tune in regularly to hockey broadcasts. The tradition continued in a big way Wednesday night.

The Buffalo market ranked fourth in the United States with an 8.5 rating for Game One of the Stanley Cup finals, NBC Sports said today. Buffalo was No. 1 among cities without a rooting interest.

Boston led the way with a 28.1 rating, while Chicago was second at 25.1. Providence, which is home to the Bruins' minor-league affiliate, was third with an 18.5 rating. Milwaukee (6.1) rounded out the top five.

Chicago's 4-3 triple-overtime victory posted a 4.8 overnight rating, which NBC said was up 100 percent from last year and the best in 16 years. Detroit and Philadelphia put up a 5.2 on Fox in 1997.

Road to the NHL Draft: Samuel Morin

By John Vogl

Samuel Morin

Position: Defense

Junior team: Rimouski (QMJHL)

Born: Lac-Beauport, Quebec

Measurables: 6-foot-6, 202 pounds

2012-13 stats: 46 games, 4 goals, 12 assists, 16 points

Central Scouting rank: No. 23 (North America)

Lowdown: Morin was merely a curiosity when the season started. He stood out because of his height, but little else was of grand stature. Things have changed. He’s vaulted up the prospect rankings, including a 53-spot jump by NHL Central Scouting, which had him ranked 76th in the midterm evaluations. Folks are intrigued by his willingness to scuffle and hit. His long reach in the defensive zone is an enviable trait and makes forwards go wider than they’d planned.

He’s a solid puck mover with a hard shot. He learned power-play tips from Sabres prospect and former Rimouski standout Jerome Gauthier-Leduc, who was a scoring machine in juniors.

Morin’s lack of pounds weighs heavily against him. He’s as rail-thin as Buffalo’s Tyler Myers at the same age, and like Myers he may struggle to put on pounds. Myers faltered while trying to adjust to his developing body, and Morin has experienced similar growing pains.

They said it: "He moves really well for a big guy, and he has a good sense of the game, offensively and defensively. He’s quite a responsible player. When you get a guy that’s that big, that rangy, can make the first pass out of the zone and has a good stick to defend, and he’s got a little bit of a physical element ... that’s a pretty nice package." – 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.

Blackhawks take Game One of Stanley Cup in triple-overtime

By John Vogl

The way Boston and Chicago have been playing, it was assumed by many the Stanley Cup would be a tightly played series. Game One only enhanced that outlook.

The opener went to triple-overtime before Chicago's Andrew Shaw finally had a goal bounce off his leg and into the net with 7:52 remaining in the sixth period, giving the Blackhawks a 4-3 victory. Chicago rallied from 2-0 and 3-1 deficits.

The game was the fifth longest in Cup history. The "No Goal" epic between Buffalo and Dallas is No. 2.

Chicago took 132 shots, including 63 that reached Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask. Forty missed the net and another 29 were blocked. The Bruins put 54 shots on Corey Crawford.

For an in-depth look at each team, here is the coverage by the Boston Globe and Chicago Tribune.

Poll: Will Chicago or Boston win the Stanley Cup?

By John Vogl

The hockey season didn't start until January, but it seems like a long run for Chicago and Boston. One will complete the journey with the Stanley Cup raised over their head.

The finals start tonight. Bucky Gleason picked Patrick Kane and Chicago in today's Cup preview. Make your pick below.

Today     8 p.m.     Boston at Chicago     NBC, CBC
Saturday    8 p.m.     Boston at Chicago     NBCSN, CBC
Monday     8 p.m.     Chicago at Boston     NBCSN, CBC
Next Wednesday     8 p.m.     Chicago at Boston     NBC, CBC
*Saturday, June 22     8 p.m.     Boston at Chicago     NBC, CBC
*Monday, June 24     8 p.m.     Chicago at Boston     NBC, CBC
*Wednesday, June 26    8 p.m.     Boston at Chicago     NBC, CBC

Road to the NHL Draft: Valeri Nichushkin

By John Vogl

Valeri Nichushkin

Position: Right wing

Foreign team: Chelyabinsk (KHL)

Born: Chelyabinsk, Russia

Measurables: 6-foot-3, 196 pounds

2012-13 stats: 18 games, 4 goals, 2 assists, 6 points

Central Scouting rank: No. 2 (European)

Lowdown: So how can a guy with pedestrian stats and a reputation for inconsistency make his way into consideration for the first overall pick? Pure, unadulterated talent. Nichushkin is a slick-skating big man who has the ability to make defensemen look as if they’re standing still. Few players in the draft can match his skating ability, especially in one-on-one situations, where he also uses his long reach to get around goaltenders. The combination of size, speed and a passion for heading toward the net amazes scouts.

The 18-year-old played at three levels in Russia this season: junior, second division and the Kontinental Hockey League. He had six goals and nine points in 25 playoff games with Chelyabinsk, which traded him to Moscow Dynamo after the season.

That’s where the red flags come in. He’s tried to convince folks that he really wants to play in the NHL next season, but the KHL paycheck waves in the background. Nichushkin added he will skate only in the NHL or KHL; the AHL is not an option. He had just one goal and two points in six games at the world junior championships.

They said it: "When Nichushkin is at his best, he's by far better than Barkov, but he's not always at his best. He's a big, strong player with a high overall skill set. He can score the big goals and can dominate games." – Goran Stubb, NHL director of European scouting, to while comparing Nichushkin to top-rated European skater Aleksander Barkov.

Harry Neale honored to receive Foster Hewitt Award after listening to legendary broadcaster as kid

By John Vogl

Harry Neale remembers begging his father to let him stay up late and listen to hockey broadcasts. Neale, only about 8 years old, would sneak a radio into his bedroom in Sarnia, Ont., and visualize the images conjured by legendary Maple Leafs broadcaster Foster Hewitt.

When Neale's phone rang with the news he was this year's recipient of the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award -- an honor that features recognition in the Hockey Hall of Fame -- the Sabres' broadcaster welled up.

"I can’t ever remember feeling as different as I did when I got the call," Neale said today. "It was a humbling moment to be in a group as celebrity-filled as the Foster Hewitt Award."

Continue reading "Harry Neale honored to receive Foster Hewitt Award after listening to legendary broadcaster as kid" »

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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 |

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 |

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 |