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Reaction to Vanek trade

By Miguel Rodriguez

Another member of the core has left Hockey Heaven.
This departure was expected but the timing was quite sudden.
Roughly 14 hours after the Buffalo Sabres traded Thomas Vanek to the New York Islanders in exchange for winger Matt Moulson, a 2014 first-round pick and 2015 second-round pick, Vanek's ex-teammates expressed some surprise he was no longer a member of the blue and gold yet at the same time were not totally stunned he was gone.
Everyone in Sabreland knew the situation. Vanek, one of the most prolific offensive players in franchise history, came into the year in the final season of a seven-year deal. He's set to become a free agent July 1. If he wanted to be part of the Sabres' project rebuild, he would've have signed a deal to stay here.
Instead, he has the opportunity to play with John Tavares and fellow Austrian countryman Michael Grabner on a team filled with young talent coming off a playoff appearance.
"There's been a big turnover," said forward Tyler Ennis, who has seen Vanek, Jason Pominville, Derek Roy, Paul Gaustad and Jochen Hecht either leave via trade or retire since joining the Sabres during the 2009-10 season. "It's tough to see a friend go but at the same time it was expected. He's a great player and we wish him well," Ennis said.
Added Sabres coach Ron Rolston: "This is a situation everyone knew would take place. It was just the timing was quicker than people would have thought.
"Obviously losing a good player that has meant so much to the organization over the years is tough. ... He certainly was a great person in the room for us and someone who produced. He will be missed. We wish him the best in terms of his goals. I know he wants to be on a team that can make a push for the Stanley Cup. That's a good goal of his. Hopefully he gets that."
Drew Stafford and veteran goalie Ryan Miller are the only remaining members of the vaunted core group of talent Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier opted to build around following the departures of Chris Drury and Daniel Briere on July 1, 2007.
The core had some moments, winning the 2009-10 Northeast Division title and making a thunderous second-half run to make the playoffs on the second to last day of the season in 2010-11, but the group will mostly be remember for what it didn't accomplsh as the Sabres have missed the playoffs four of the past six years.
That doesn't make it any easier to say good-bye to Vanek, though.
Vanek was one of the franchise's most productive players as he recorded 254 goals and 497 points in 598 career games after being drafted fifth overall in 2003. He's been a Sabre since the end of the 2004-05 lockout, earning a share of the captaincy prior to opening night along with Steve Ott. Ott will be the full-time captain now, with Christian Ehrhoff as the lone alternate.
"For him it was tough for him to leave us in that situation but I think he expected it at some point," said Ehrhoff, a good friend of Vanek who'd often hold conversations together in their native German dialect. Ehrhoff is from Germany, while German is the official language in Vanek's home country Austria.
"It's always eye-opening," defenseman Tyler Myers said of the trade. "It's a big move. He's been a big part of this organization. Whenever you see a guy go like that, it takes a while to settle in for sure."

Below are audio clips of Ron Rolston and Tyler Myers.



Ron Rolston


Tyler Myers


Audio: Moulson on joining Sabres, Ruff on return to Buffalo

By John Vogl

Matt Moulson made his first appearance in First Niagara Center as a member of the Sabres this morning. Lindy Ruff made his visit visit as someone who isn't part of the Sabres.

Listen to both of them reflect on the day.

Lindy Ruff

Matt Moulson

Poll: What do you think of the Sabres' trade?

Sabres' rebuilding plan takes huge step with trade of Vanek

By John Vogl

The rebuilding of the Buffalo Sabres took its biggest step yet Sunday night as the team traded co-captain and perennial scoring leader Thomas Vanek. It’s a deal that added substantial assets to the organization and has the potential to bring even more.

The Sabres shipped Vanek to the New York Islanders for accomplished scorer Matt Moulson, a first-round pick in the 2014 NHL draft and a second-round selection in 2015. It’s a blockbuster swap that would generate headlines at the frantic trade deadline, and it’s even more significant this early in the season.

“It was a deal that has been worked on off and on for a while,” General Manager Darcy Regier said in First Niagara Center. “It was something that we felt we had to do. Our focus is on trying to acquire assets, in this case draft picks, that are going to allow us to continue improving.”

Continue reading "Sabres' rebuilding plan takes huge step with trade of Vanek" »

Audio: Darcy Regier talks about Sabres' trade of Vanek for Moulson, two draft picks

Darcy Regier

Sabres trade Vanek to Islanders for Moulson, first- and second-round picks

By John Vogl

Thomas Vanek is on his way to the New York Islanders.

The Sabres' perennial scoring leader has been dealt to New York in exchange for forward Matt Moulson, a first-round pick in 2014 and a second-round pick in 2015.

Moulson is a 29-year-old left winger who also has impressive scoring ability. He's eclipsed the 30-goal mark three times for the Islanders, topping out at 36 in 2011-12. He had 15 goals and 44 points in 47 games last season.

Moulson, like Vanek, is in the final year of his contract. He signed a three-year, $9.4 million deal with the Islanders prior to the 2011-12 season. His salary cap hit is $3.13 million, and his salary this season is $3.9 million.

"On one hand surprised by the trade but another not really," Moulson's agent, Wade Arnott, said in an email to The News after talking with his client. "Matt will now have the opportunity to choose were he wants to play whether that is Buffalo or elsewhere in free agency. He is heading to Buffalo with an open mind. No conversations yet but interested in hearing Sabres plans."

Vanek has been on the trade block since last season for the rebuilding Sabres. The 2003 first-round draft pick leaves as one of the best scorers in Buffalo history. The 29-year-old recorded 254 goals and 497 points in 598 games with the Sabres.

Vanek joins fellow playmaking Austrian Michael Grabner on Long Island.

"It was a deal that was off and on here for a while," Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier said in First Niagara Center. "It was something we feel we needed to do."

The Sabres have made it clear they intend to build through the draft. Based on their 2-10-1 record, they'll pick early next June, and they've now added the Islanders' selection.

"It was important to get first- and second-round picks," said Regier, who finalized the deal now rather than wait until the trade deadline because it took away the potential injury factor. "It’s more beneficial to have it now than later."

In addition to the two first-round picks next June, the Sabres have three second-round selections. They also have three second-rounders in 2015.

"You have to believe in what you’re doing," Regier said. “It’s exciting when you can get young players and see them grow. The hard part is when you don’t win games while they’re growing. It’s a long-term plan, and you’ve got to deal with the two."


Ron Rolston audio: 1:13 of your life you won't get back

By John Vogl

Ron Rolston is rarely forthcoming with his thoughts. That proved especially true following Saturday night's 3-2 loss to Tampa Bay.

The coach was furious with Cody Hodgson and Drew Stafford, both of whom spent the majority of the third period on the bench. The anger short-circuited his typically brief chats even more. The audio is below.

The Sabres are off today and host Lindy Ruff and Dallas on Monday night.

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Sabres Live: Pregame chat at 6:45 p.m.; Sabres-Lightning updates at 7 p.m.

Leino could return to Sabres' lineup tonight; Weber out long term with thumb injury

By John Vogl

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Sabres badly need someone who can create offense. Ville Leino has a chance to heed the call.

The forward might play tonight when the Sabres visit Tampa Bay. He said his broken rib, suffered during the season opener, is no longer giving him discomfort.

"I’m feeling good," he said in Tampa Bay Times Forum. "It’s going to be for coaches and me to make the move.

"I’m just excited to go back out there and play hockey. I love playing hockey, so for me it’s just going to be fun to go out there and play, and that’s always when I play the best, too."

Coach Ron Rolston said it's a "possibility" that Leino returns against the Lightning.

"He’s obviously a veteran presence here," Rolston said. "He’s got the ability to create offense and control the puck, so it’ll be a help, but he hasn’t played for a while, too, so it’s going to take him a bit, I’m sure."

The Sabres would need to clear a roster spot to activate Leino, and they could do so by placing defenseman Mike Weber on injured reserve. He has a cast on his left thumb after blocking a shot Friday in Florida and will be out long term, Rolston said.

The only player to take the ice for the optional morning skate was suspended Patrick Kaleta, so it's not clear if Ryan Miller will start in goal as scheduled or if Jhonas Enroth has earned a second straight start after his 44-save performance Friday.

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Scott's suspension hearing to be held Thursday

By John Vogl

SUNRISE, Fla. -- John Scott's date with Brendan Shanahan is set for next week.

The Sabres' enforcer will have an in-person hearing with the NHL's disciplinarian on Thursday in New York City. The meeting, which will determine how many games Scott will be suspended for his head shot to Boston's Loui Eriksson, coincides with the Sabres' game in New York against the Rangers.

Scott will miss three games before the hearing. He is expected to get at least six games for the illegal hit.

Sabres Live: Pregame chat at 7:15 p.m.; in-game Sabres-Panthers updates at 7:30 p.m.

Sabres going with seven defenseman, with Tallinder the odd man out

By John Vogl

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. -- The Sabres are once again going with seven defensemen in the lineup. They don't have much of a choice.

After suspensions and injuries, the Sabres have just 11 forwards on the roster. That means an extra D-man will play tonight against Florida in BB&T Center.

"We’ll rotate seven guys back there," coach Ron Rolston said today. "If anything happens up front, then we can move a guy up there."

The Sabres are carrying eight defensemen, and Henrik Tallinder is the odd man out. He made a mistake during the 5-2 loss to Boston that resulted in a goal on an odd-man rush.

"He’s played well for us," Rolston said. "He’s a presence in our room. He offers leadership. We’ve liked his game. He’ll be back in there tomorrow."

The Sabres will visit Tampa Bay on Saturday. Jhonas Enroth will play in net tonight, leaving Ryan Miller for the Lightning.

Ville Leino (broken rib) practiced with the Sabres but won't return to the lineup until next week.

"It’s basically getting back in shape now and being comfortable with what he’s got to do when he’s playing, taking hits, getting hit," Rolston said. "If he’s going to have the puck, he’s going to get hit, so he’s got to be ready with that, comfortable with that. It’ll probably be next week."

Patrick Kaleta, who will serve the seventh game of his 10-game suspension, told The News he and his advisers have not decided whether they will appeal the penalty to a neutral arbitrator. At this point, a reduction in his suspension would likely only result in some of the $152,439 in lost salary being returned because the 10 games might be up before a decision is made.

Kevin Porter cleared waivers today and has been assigned to the Rochester Americans.

"It’s always the toughest thing you have to do is cut somebody, waive somebody," Rolston said. "I have a lot of respect for him. He came here last year when I got here, and he worked really hard for us and played very well. He’s a guy that just brings it every day, and he battles and he’s a real good teammate.

"It’s a difficult thing, but it’s kind of where we’re at, especially with the amount of young guys that are getting opportunity here. I know he’ll land on his feet, have a good attitude about it and keep working."

Ron Rolston

Bettman upholds Kaleta suspension

by Amy Moritz

Gary Bettmen issued his ruling today, upholding the 10-game suspension of Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta.

Kaleta was appealing his suspension, originally issued by director of player safety Brendan Shanahan, for an illegal check to the head of Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson on Oct. 10.

In his complete ruling, Bettman wrote:

“The only question raised on appeal is whether such contact to the head was fairly considered “avoidable.” I find that there is clear and convincing evidence to support Mr. Shanahan’s conclusion that the contact to Mr. John’s head was avoidable and, in fact, should have been avoided.”

“Regrettably, Mr. Kaleta stands out for his repeated violations of – and seeming indifference to – the Playing Rules put in place to protect other Players, and, particularly, other Players’ heads.”

Considered a repeat offender under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, Kaleta will forfeit $152,439. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund. Kaleta has the option to appeal this decision to an independent arbitrator. This is a new feature of the collective bargaining agreement and the players’ association has not yet tested this clause.

You can read the entire report, in all its legalese glory, here.

John Scott suspended indefinitely by NHL


The Sabres' John Scott is facing a suspension for his hit on Loui Eriksson. (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)

By Amy Moritz

The NHL has suspended John Scott indefinitely pending a disciplinary hearing for his hit on Loui Eriksson in last night's 5-2 loss to Boston. He has been given the opportunity for an in-person hearing, an offer made when the suspension is likely to go beyond five games. The suspension came after the team had left for tomorrow night's game at Florida.

Scott addressed the media after the Buffalo Sabres practiced for about an hour this morning at First Niagara Center.

His hit on Loui Eriksson in last night's 5-2 loss to Boston, along with his value as an NHL player period, has been questioned by several national media outlets. Scott would like to say he's not a goon.

Continue reading "John Scott suspended indefinitely by NHL" »

Video: Nikita Zadorov shares what it feels like to score his first NHL goal

Sabres forward Nikita Zadorov on scoring his first NHL goal.

Suspension awaits Sabres' Scott after illegal hit to head of Bruins' Eriksson

By John Vogl

John Scott is set to join Patrick Kaleta on the suspended list.

The Sabres' enforcer earned a match penalty Wednesday for a hit to the head of the Bruins' Loui Eriksson, an avoidable encounter that had Boston incensed.

"He did his job," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "He's there to do two things: to fight and to hurt. He did both of those things."

There was no update on the status of Eriksson, who was woozy and needed to be helped off the ice by two teammates.

The Sabres said Scott was not available for comment.

"I'm not going to comment on it," Sabres coach Ron Rolston said.

TSN reports Scott will have an in-person hearing with NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan, which usually means a suspension of at least five games. Kaleta is appealing the 10-game ban he got for a head shot to Columbus' Jack Johnson.

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Sabres Live: Pregame chat at 7:30 p.m.; in-game Bruins-Sabres updates at 8 p.m.

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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 |