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Evening updates: Bruins sign Iginla, Wild nabs Pens' Cooke

By Mike Harrington

The Boston Bruins thought they had Jarome Iginla at the trade deadline. They didn't, as the veteran went to Pittsburgh at the last minute. But with Nathan Horton gone today to Columbus, the Bruins had another opening on the wing and this time they got their man.

Iginla left the Penguins and signed with the Bruins Friday night as the dollars kept flying during NHL free agency. According to and TSN, it's a one-year contract with a $1.8 million base salary that features performance bonuses that could take Iginla up to $6 million. The low base salary gives the Bruins more wriggle room in their need to sign goaltender Tuukka Rask to a long-term deal.

The evening's other big name moving also left Pittsburgh, as rugged winger Matt Cooke signed a three-year, $7.5 million deal with Minnesota. Memo to Thomas Vanek: If you're thinking about returning to your collegiate home state and signing with the Wild as a free agent next summer, the Wild would likely have to make room for you by dumping either/or of Dany Heatley or old friend Jason Pominville. 

The top unsigned names as of this writing? Among skaters, it's bought-out Toronto center Mikhail Grabovski, old friends Derek Roy of Vancouver and Brad Boyes of the Islanders, the Detroit duo of Damien Brunner and Dan Clearly -- either of whom would look good in Buffalo Blue and gold -- and Vancouver's Mason Raymond.

Among goaltenders, if you dare, you can still sign Tim Thomas, Ilyz Bryzgalov, Jose Theodore or Johan Hedberg. Good luck there.

A reminder of what Sabres' depth chart looks like

By John Vogl

As NHL teams try to upgrade their rosters through free agency (which is well underway here), here's a reminder of what the Sabres' depth chart looks like. This is in depth order, not actual lines.


Thomas Vanek-Cody Hodgson-Drew Stafford

Steve Ott-Tyler Ennis-Joel Armia

Ville Leino-Mikhail Grigorenko-Brian Flynn

Marcus Foligno-Kevin Porter-Patrick Kaleta

John Scott-Johan Larsson-Corey Tropp

Zemgus Girgensons-Cody McCormick


Christian Ehrhoff-Tyler Myers

Mike Weber-Mark Pysyk

Chad Ruhwedel-Jamie McBain

Brayden McNabb


Ryan Miller

Jhonas Enroth

Matt Hackett

Live blog: Updates as NHL free agency signing period begins

Stunner from Ottawa: Sens captain Alfredsson leaving for Detroit or Boston

Daniel Alfredsson: Heading out of Ottawa. (Getty Images)

By Mike Harrington

Be sure to join us here at noon for the latest updates on NHL free agency, but here's some stunning news just emerging out of Ottawa -- captain Daniel Alfredsson is not returning to the only NHL team he has played for.

Alfredsson has informed the Senators he will not be re-signing, which had been considered a mere formality in the last couple of days. Instead, he is going to hit the free agent market and is expected to sign with either the Detroit Red Wings or Boston Bruins (most reports have Detroit in the lead, with Alfredsson joining fellow Swede Henrik Zetterberg and the deal being one year and $3.5 million).

Alfredsson is far and away Mr. Senator, a player who seemed destined to play his whole career in Ottawa. He has 426 goals, 682 assists and 1,108 points in 1,178 games since making his debut in Ottawa in 1995. He is the NHL's longest-tenured captain, having taken over the role from Alexei Yashin in 1999.

And, of course, he is forever tied to the Sabres-Senators playoff battles as the player Jason Pominville went around to score the short-handed overtime goal that ended the teams' Eastern Conference semifinal in 2006, and the overtime scorer that broke Buffalo's hearts in the decisive Game Five of the Eastern Conference finals in 2007. Alfredsson also scored his 1,000th career point in Buffalo in 2010 with an empty-net goal that capped a hat trick.

Ottawa went on to lose the Stanley Cup final in '07 to Anaheim and Alfredsson hasn't been that close to the Cup since. At age 40, a sudden move like this is clearly a chase of a championship.

And remember this point: If it's the Red Wings, Alfredsson is moving within the division. Detroit is joining Tampa Bay and Florida next season in the yet-unnamed division with the five holdovers from the Northeast. Instant new rivalry.



Briere signs two-year deal with Canadiens; Sabres' buyout of Gerbe is not of compliance variety

By John Vogl

Sabres fans will get to see a lot of Danny Briere. He’ll just be playing against Buffalo rather than for it.

The former Sabres co-captain has agreed to a two-year deal with the division-rival Montreal Canadiens. He’ll make $4 million per year, according to Pierre LeBrun of ESPN and TSN.

The Sabres were one of eight teams in the running for Briere, he told The News earlier in the week, but the Canadiens won the sweepstakes.

In other news, the Sabres have informed The News their buyout of Nathan Gerbe is not a compliance buyout. It is just a normal buyout, which means they still have two compliance buyouts – buyouts that pay the player while erasing him from their salary cap – to use next summer.

Because of his age (25), the Sabres have bought out Gerbe’s contract for one-third the cost of his salary. He was set to make $1.85 million this year and will get $616,605. reports that the Sabres will receive a cap credit of $91,667 this season, while Gerbe will count $308,333 against the Sabres’ cap in 2014-15.

Bruins send Seguin to Ruff-coached Stars for Eriksson

By John Vogl

The Sabres' division was already getting a shake-up with the arrival of Detroit, Florida and Tampa Bay. Longtime rival Boston is intent on changing things, too.

The Bruins have sent center Tyler Seguin, plus Rich Peverley and defense prospect Ryan Button, to the Lindy Ruff-coached Dallas Stars for Loui Eriksson, Joe Morrow, Reilly Smith and Matt Fraser, according to TSN.

Seguin, selected second in the 2010 draft, had 16 goals and 32 points in 48 games. He slumped in the playoffs, though, as Boston lost the Stanley Cup to Chicago. Seguin had one goal and eight points in 22 postseason games.

Eriksson had 12 goals and 29 points in 48 games. The 27-year-old scored between 26 and 36 goals in each of the previous four seasons.

Maple Leafs put themselves in prime position to make a splash

By John Vogl

So what are the big-money, big-market Maple Leafs doing near the bottom of the NHL's salary cap list? Giving themselves plenty of room to get to the top.

Toronto is buying out winger Mikhail Grabovski, who had four years and $21.5 million left on a five-year, $27.5 million deal he signed just last year. It is the second of two available compliance buyouts for the Leafs.

The move puts the Maple Leafs' payroll 29th in the 30-team NHL, according to, ahead of only the New York Islanders. Toronto has $40 million committed to 12 players, according to CapGeek, which leaves it with about $24.3 million to spend on 11 players when free agency opens at noon Friday.

The Leafs have an uphill job of re-signing players, though. Tyler Bozak is an unrestricted free agent, while Nazem Kadri, Cody Franson and Jonathan Bernier are restricted.

More from new Sabres assistant Sacco, a charter member of the Mighty Ducks

Sacco DucksBy Mike Harrington

Be sure to read my story on new Sabres assistant coach Joe Sacco in Thursday's paper. Had a nice chat on the phone with him Wednesday and he had a good laugh when I asked him what it was like to be an expansion team guy. Didn't have room to get it in the story but he had some interesting thoughts on it.

Sacco played on the 1993-94 Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, a first-year expansion team that tied an NHL record for wins by a first-year team with 33.

They wore cartoonish uniforms based on the movie (note the pic of Sacco above) and had a team of castoffs. For his part, Sacco was chosen from Toronto in the expansion draft.

"All the players came from different teams. You get to Anaheim and you're in a similar situation -- you're coming from a team that I guess at the end of the day really didn't want you," Sacco said. "Because we all had that same attitude and felt we had something to prove, we really came through as a unit and a team. We didn't have a superstar, any name players. We were a bunch of muckers and grinders, castaways from other teams.

"We had good leadership like Troy Loney, our captain. He won two Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh. We had a group that wanted to belong. We wanted to prove we could stay in the National Hockey League."

Sacco had a career-high 19 goals and 37 points and played all 84 games for the Mighty Ducks that year. It was the first of his five seasons in Anaheim. (Check out his career stats here)

"Young players have to have that similar mindset whether they've played half a year or one year that they have to belong," he said. "They're not there yet. I always say with young players that the real guys on real teams do it year after year after year. It's 10-12-13-14 years. What can make me stand out from the guy next to me? That's what I try to pass on as a coach and we had it on that team."

(Photo: Getty Images)

Sabres sign Ellis and other evening ice chips

By Mike Harrington

---As GM Darcy Regier indicated yesterday, the Sabres announced they had reached agreement this evening with Matt Ellis on a two-year, two-way contract. Ellis, 31, is expected to serve as captain of the Rochester Amerks. According to Capgeek, Ellis will make $550,000 in the NHL and $300,000 in the AHL.

---The Sabres remain in the Daniel Briere sweepstakes. The Devils and Canadiens are also possibilities. Multiple reports this evening say Briere has eliminated the Islanders from consideration. RDS in Canada is reporting there could be as many as six teams still in consideration. Buffalo certainly freed a little more money with the buyout of Nathan Gerbe.

---The Bruins are going big-money with Tuukka Rask and Patrice Bergeron on eight-year deals. GM Peter Chiarelli said tonight a deal could be done Friday on Rask and CBC's Elliotte Friedman is saying it will be eight years and $56 million, with a $7 million cap hit that would tie with Pekka Rinne and Jonathan Quick for tops among NHL goalies. Bergeron is reportedly in line for $50-$52 million.

Boston is also going to set the old Northeast Division on its ear or give Daniel Alfredsson a bigger raise as the Bruins are trying to make a move on the Ottawa captain, who it was assumed was simply returning to the Senators for one more year.

---Some scary moments today in Los Angeles as Kings center Jarrett Stoll was hospitalized after having a seizure. Stoll, remember, missed six games in the playoffs after a hit from San Jose's Raffi Torres. 

---Ex-Sabre Jordan Leopold has agreed to a two-year, $4.5 million extension with St. Louis, the team the Sabres traded him to prior to the deadline. Leopold's second-round pick was turned into Williamsville's Justin Bailey. The Blues were first-round playoff losers to Los Angeles, which previously gave a two-year extension to Buffalo deadline acquisition Robyn Regehr.

---The Coyotes are staying in Glendale, Ariz., after a marathon session Tuesday night that stretched to nearly 4 a.m. Eastern time allowed them to reach a new arena lease deal.  The club will change its name to the "Arizona Coyotes".

Development camp schedule set

By Mike Harrington

The Sabres have finalized their schedule for next week's development camp at First Niagara Center, which has been shortened to three days. All sessions are open to the public but times are subject to change.

The roughly 40 players will be split into two groups, with assignments announced next week.  On Wednesday July 10, Group 1 is scheduled from 10:30 a.m.-noon with Group 2 from 3-4:30. On Thursday July 11, Group 1 remains 10:30-noon while Group 2 goes from 2:15-3:30.

As previously announced, the Blue-Gold scrimmage is set for Friday, July 12 at 4 p.m (gates open at 3). Admission is $10 and includes a post-game concert by 10,000 Maniacs at Canalside.

All of the team's 2013 draft picks are scheduled to attend the camp, as our most prospects from the last couple of years. The only players excused to date are Johan Larsson (commitments in Sweden) and Joel Armia (wedding in Finland). Larsson was acquired from Minnesota in the Jason Pominville trade while Armia was the team's No. 1 draft choice in 2011.

Sacco on Sabres: 'It was the best situation for me moving forward'

By Mike Harrington

New Sabres assistant coach Joe Sacco told me today he had no intention of taking some time away from the game after he was fired following the season by the Colorado Avalanche. He interviewed for the Vancouver head coaching job and was eyeing spots in the AHL as well, before ultimately deciding = to stay in the NHL as an assistant in Buffalo under Ron Rolston.

"I'm looking forward to the opportunity of working with Ron," Sacco said by phone from Denver. "I've never worked with him but we know some of the same people from USA Hockey. Sitting down with him and talking about philosophies was interesting. He asked my opinion on certain things and we just seemed to be on the same page as far as how things should be done moving forward.

"I'm in a little different role, a different capacity. I'm there to support Ron 100 percent and make sure we have success as a team. I think I have a lot of experience dealing with young players. In Colorado, we were one of the youngest, if not the youngest teams every year so I can learn from my experiences of dealing with younger players and the hurdles they'll face dealing with a long season. You can help guys through those situations."

Sacco met with Rolston, GM Darcy Regier and toured First Niagara Center as well as learning about the plans for the HarborCenter project.

"After speaking with Ron and Darcy, going out there, seeing the facility, the arena. I had a good conversation with those guys," he said. "It seemeed to be a really good fit and I thought it was the best situation for me moving forward."

Sacco said he didn't have specific duties yet but would be in charge of one facet of Buffalo's special teams (Colorado was 24th on the power play and 20th on the penalty kill last year). He said he's going to tackle a video review of Sabres games, especially late-season ones featuring the club's young players, because there wasn't much crossover last season due to the lockout of coaches watching games from the other conference.

Sacco said he signed a multi-year deal with Buffalo. His wife, Tammy, and three children are in the midst of planning their move from Denver, so he may not attend the team's development camp next week.

Gerbe waived on apparent road to buyout

By Mike Harrington

The Sabres have placed winger Nathan Gerbe on waivers, with TSN reporting it's for the purpose of using one of their two compliance buyouts on him. 

The 5-foot-5 Gerbe had five goals and five assists in 42 games last season, failing for the second straight year to become a major part of the offense as he struggled after offseason back surgery. He had a breakthough season in 2010-11, with 16 goals and 31 points in 64 games but slumped in 2011-12 to post just six goals in 62 games.

In 188 NHL games, Gerbe has 29 goals and 43 assists. He was Buffalo's fifth-round pick in 2005 out of Boston College, where he was named Most Outstanding Player of the 2008 Frozen Four and a Hobey Baker finalist to current Sabre Kevin Porter.

GM Darcy Regier has said on several occasions, including yesterday's free agency preview press conference, that the Sabres did not expect to use one of their compliance buyouts this summer. Teams have two to use in a period that ends at 5 p.m. Thursday or they have to wait until next June.

By buying out Gerbe, the Sabres would owe him $308,333 each of the next two seasons -- but his $1.45 million cap hit would be wiped from the books. Gerbe was scheduled to make $1.85 million this season. 

Preseason schedule includes 3 home games

By Mike Harrington

Remember training camp? Preseason games?

They'll be back in September for the Buffalo Sabres and the rest of the NHL. Wiped from the slate last year because of the lockout, the teams are returning to their usual calendar for the 2013-14 season.

The Sabres have announced their preseason schedule, a seven-game slate that includes three contests in First Niagara Center -- Sept. 19 vs. Carolina, Sept. 21 vs. Toronto and Sept. 25 vs. Columbus.

The preseason opens on the road with games Sept. 15 at Montreal and Sept. 17 at Columbus. There are also road games Sept. 22 at Toronto and the finale, Sept. 27 at Carolina. All games, home and away, are at 7 p.m.

The regular season schedule remains tied up in discussions over whether the NHL will participate in the Sochi Olympics, necessitating a two-week break in February like the teams have had in previous Olympic years. The scuttlebutt continues to be July 17, the day after the MLB All-Star Game, will be schedule release day.

Briere says he's talking with eight teams, including Sabres

NHL Free Agency  Hock_Naso
Associated Press photo

By John Vogl

There's about a 1 in 8 chance those Daniel Briere jerseys stuffed in the closets of Sabres fans will come back in style.

The free agent center, who was bought out by the Philadelphia Flyers, tells The Buffalo News he's had contract chats with Buffalo.

"We are talking to about eight teams," Briere said in a text. "Sabres one of them."

The 35-year-old had six goals and 16 points in 34 games last season. He was set to have a salary cap hit of $6.5 million for the next two seasons, but the Flyers used a compliance buyout and made him a free agent.

The former Buffalo co-captain helped lead the Sabres to the Eastern Conference finals in 2005-06 and '06-07.

Joe Sacco, former NHL Coach of Year candidate, joins Sabres as Rolston's assistant

Joe Sacco was the head coach for the United States at this year's world championships. (Photo: Getty Images)

By John Vogl

Ron Rolston has added a former NHL Coach of the Year candidate to his staff.

Joe Sacco, who coached the Colorado Avalanche for four seasons and was a Jack Adams Award finalist in 2009-10, has been named Rolston's assistant coach on the Sabres.

The team made the official announcement following a report in The Buffalo News.

The Avalanche fired Sacco in April after going 16-25-7. He guided the Avs to the playoffs in his trophy-nominated first season, but Sacco failed to reach the postseason in his final three years. He went 130-134-30 as the bench boss.

Sacco interviewed for jobs as a head coach around the NHL before deciding to join Buffalo as an assistant.

"He was looking for the right fit of where he wanted to continue, and I think he was really comfortable upon leaving here what direction this organization was going," Rolston said today in First Niagara Center. "He thought that was exciting. He’d worked for Colorado that had a lot of young players in a similar situation in terms of building and developing and teaching. He was excited about that here to be able to come in and really put his stamp on things. That was important. I think it’ll be a great fit."

Rolston said he'll add one more assistant to a staff that includes Teppo Numminen and goalie coach Jim Corsi, who worked for the team when Lindy Ruff was on the bench.

Rolston and Sacco nearly worked together before with USA Hockey. Both were named assistants to Scott Gordon on the 2010 national team that represented the United States at the world championships, but Rolston didn't go because his son was born late. Sacco was the head coach for the United States at this year's world championships and won bronze.

The 44-year-old Sacco played 13 seasons in the NHL, totaling 738 games with Toronto, Anaheim, the New York Islanders, Washington and Philadelphia. 

The job with the Sabres opened when Rolston fired assistants James Patrick and Kevyn Adams in May.

"They were both outstanding when I got here and all the way through," Rolston said. "It was just part of change. Nothing else. They’re both outstanding people, both outstanding coaches, lot of character. They were outstanding in the transition for me coming from Rochester to here. It was just more of changing things."

Sabres don't expect to make big splash in free agency; Grigorenko will spend all next season in Buffalo

By John Vogl

The Sabres have tried to make a big splash in free agency since Terry Pegula took over the team. It appears that trend will change.

General Manager Darcy Regier said today that Buffalo's prime targets in free agency, which opens Friday, will be players who can complement the current roster rather than headline it.

"The focus is going to be on supporting this younger group, this younger core group," Regier said in First Niagara Center. "Certainly, you want good players, but you want players who are committed to being professionals, being examples, being contributors. Those are the most important characteristics and the most important things we can do organizationally to make sure we progress in the direction we need to go."

Regier said the trade market has begun to form as the NHL heads toward its shopping season, and Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller remain available.

"I’m actively finding out what the marketplace is like, not limited to those two players," Regier said. "There will be a number of teams we’ll speak to regarding not just the goaltending position but other positions, as well."

In other news:

Continue reading "Sabres don't expect to make big splash in free agency; Grigorenko will spend all next season in Buffalo" »

Sabres felt Nichushkin was home run or strikeout, so they intentionally walked to Ristolainen

By John Vogl

The Sabres' first pick in the draft Sunday, Rasmus Ristolainen, is ready to play in the NHL. He's a big defenseman with offensive skills who has been playing against men since he was 16. He has the talent and maturity to compete for a spot on the roster.

A potential star winger was also available at the No. 8 spot. Russian Valeri Nichushkin ranked high on many lists, including one from International Scouting Services. It pegged him as the fourth-best player in the draft behind Nathan MacKinnon, Seth Jones and Jonathan Drouin.

"He isn't your typical Russian offensive dynamo as he plays an intense two-way game and shows fantastic will to win in big games," ISS wrote. "Elite offensive playmaker who can dominate play with the puck."

The scouting service had Ristolainen at No. 11.

"Ristolainen is about as safe of a prospect as you could ask for," ISS wrote. "Prototypical No. 2 defenseman, he can play any role you need him to."

Continue reading "Sabres felt Nichushkin was home run or strikeout, so they intentionally walked to Ristolainen" »

Sabres' draft recap: Plenty of picks, minor trade and more work ahead

By John Vogl

NEW YORK -- With a hectic draft day behind them, the Sabres plan to wipe the sweat off their brows, pack their bags, fly back to Buffalo and get to work on free agency. Funny, sounds identical to my plan.

Before we do, here's a look back at an 11-player draft that had a stunning nine prospects in attendance:

*The Sabres figured they’d be busy. They entered the draft with the most picks and had several players on the trade market. By the time the second round was over, they’d added another selection, traded a defenseman and made a dream come true for a Buffalonian, a feat they duplicated later.

*Williamsville’s Justin Bailey was picked in the second round of Sunday’s NHL draft and West Seneca’s Sean Malone went in the sixth. Pretty much what they expected. But what was already a life-changing moment came with an incredible twist: Both players heard their name called by the Sabres, the team they grew up watching.

*A player with a big shot who should jump into the lineup next year and a big project who will add some snarl. Going defense-first with a pair of 18-year-olds, there’s your capsule scouting report on the Sabres’ first-round picks.

*The Sabres had a plan to draft six forwards, three defensemen and a goaltender. They followed it almost to the letter.

*Jerry Sullivan watched the draft and determined now, at least, the Sabres have a direction. Wearing teams down and preventing goals is more important than scoring them.

General Manager Darcy Regier

Kevin Devine, Sabres director of amateur scouting

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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 |