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Ruhwedel gets two-year deal, leaving Ennis as lone NHL RFA

By Mike Harrington

Cross another restricted free agent off the Buffalo Sabres' to-do list as the team announced today that defenseman Chad Ruhwedel has signed a two-year contract. Terms were not disclosed. 

Ruhwedel, 24, helped Massachusetts-Lowell to a Cinderella run to the NCAA Frozen Four in Pittsburgh in 2013 and then elected to leave school when the Sabres offered him a max salary contract ($925,000) and a guaranteed NHL roster spot for the final seven games of that season.

Ruhwedel played 21 games for Buffalo last season, collecting one assist, and had four goals and 24 assists in 47 games for Rochester. His 28 points were ranked second among Amerks defensemen and his five points in the playoff series against Texas (2g, 3a) were second on the Rochester team.

He has an interesting background in hockey as a San Diego native, as my story from 2013 documents.

The last major unsigned player on the Sabres' roster is center Tyler Ennis, who is coming off a 21-goal, 43-point season that saw him make $3,062,500. Ennis is likely looking for a long-term deal in the neighborhood of the six-year, $25.5 million contract Cody Hodgson got last summer, although there's been plenty of rumblings that GM Tim Murray doesn't think much of the deal Hodgson got from Darcy Regier and won't be as loose with Ennis.

The Sabres also gave a qualifying offer to Luke Adam and have yet to sign him, although it seems far-fetched to think he would figure much in their plans at the NHL level.

UPDATE: Ruhwedel just tweeted the following....

Rinaldo's hit on Ruhwedel: You make the call

By Mike Harrington

PHILADELPHIA -- Chad Ruhwedel is concussed, the Buffalo Sabres are understandably upset and Flyers pest Zac Rinaldo is certainly in trouble with the NHL.

With Sunday's eventual 5-2 drubbing long over, Rinaldo foolishly took Ruhwedel out with a clear shot to the head. He earned a five-minute match penalty for his efforts and a meeting with Brendan Shanahan today.

“Those are the type of hits that we have to get rid of,” said coach Ted Nolan. “Those are not only dangerous hits but you’re also putting a fellow player in jeopardy of his career. Head injuries, concussions, we all know how serious they are and we still have guys with flying elbows going directly to the head.”

The NBC Sports Network video above doesn't really catch the hit live but it sure caught it with some replays. Bad news for Rinaldo for sure.

I think there's no chance the NHL will let Rinaldo off on this one, so I'm not even including no suspension as a choice in our poll below. Click to register your vote on how many games Shanahan will make Rinaldo sit and watch.

Ruhwedel's season debut comes in a tough spot

By Mike Harrington

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Defenseman Chad Ruhwedel will become the 37th player to dress for the Sabres this season when he makes his season debut tonight in Nationwide Arena. And it's in a tough spot against the Blue Jackets, who are on a franchise-record eight-game winning streak.

"He can skate. We need good puck-moving defensemen," interim coach Ted Nolan said after today's pregame skate. "Everybody looks for them and he'll have his opportunity tonight."

Ruhwedel didn't look out of place in seven NHL games when he was signed late last season right out of the Mass-Lowell blueline following the Frozen Four. And he's been solid this year in Rochester, leading Amerks blueliners with 17 points in 34 games.

Last season, especially the end of it, was quite the whirlwind for Ruhwedel but he said he's adjusted well this year.

Continue reading "Ruhwedel's season debut comes in a tough spot" »

Sabres somber talking about Boston; ex-BC star Gerbe calls Marathon bombing 'embarrassing for our world'

By Mike Harrington

As you would imagine, some pretty raw emotions in the Sabres' locker room early this afternoon as they got set to head to Boston for Wednesday night's game against the Bruins, which will be the first in the city since Monday's bombing at the Boston Marathon.

Rookie defenseman Chad Ruhwedel was playing last week for Frozen Four team Mass-Lowell, a 30-minute commuter train ride away from downtown, and was shaking his head that he could have been at the site of the blasts had he not signed his pro contract and come to Buffalo on Saturday.

"It was just heartbreaking to see that," Ruhwedel said. "The Boston Marathon is huge. Marathon Monday is huge. People go out having fun all day long. It's a good time all day. For something like that to happen is devastating.

"If I didn't have this great opportunity, I'd probably would have been down there hanging out with my team. It hit me like that. I would have been somewhere in the vicinity."

Ruhwedel said he talked to friends, teammates and family members and everyone is OK in the wake of the blast. He said his teammates didn't see the actual explosions but were close by in the area when they happened on Boylston Street at 2:50 p.m.

Winger Nathan Gerbe, a former Hobey Baker runner-up at Boston College, had a look of similar shock.

"You know exactly where it is. I've walked past there I couldn't even tell you how many times," Gerbe said. "At times for yourself, you thank God for keeping you safe. But something like this happening is embarrassing for our world to affect innocent people and innocent children. Sad."

Gerbe said he's likely to just stay inside the Sabres' hotel the next couple days and not wander around Boston like he normally does.

"I think you're a little worried going into the city obviously," he said. "They don't know exactly why and how and who. You don't know the rhyme or reasons around it. Going into the city, I'm a little nervous and a little cautious I guess. I don't know if I'm going to go out walking around in the city or not. I'm probably just going to stay in the hotel and chill."

Steve Ott, who has a 5-year-old daughter, said he was touched deeply by the death of 8-year-old Martin Richard in the blast.

"It's horrific. Obviously life doesn't make sense sometimes," Ott said. "... The stories that are coming out of that incident are just horrible."

The Sabres figure to enter an emotionally charged atmosphere Wednesday in TD Garden, with the eyes of the nation likely to be on pregame ceremonies.

"It's going to be a little bit overwhelming to start the game with heavy hearts just as people," Ott said. "It's extremely disheartening to hear and see. ... I'm sure there will be a lot of mixed emotions. ... Everyone is going to be playing with heavy hearts. It's going to be very touching to start the game."

Click below to hear audio from Gerbe, Ruhwedel and Ott.

Nathan Gerbe

Chad Ruhwedel

Steve Ott

Getting immediate shot with Sabres was part of deal with Ruhwedel, Regier says; Grigorenko coming back to organization

By John Vogl

The competition for college free agents can be fierce, especially when they have the talent to become All-American defensemen. NHL clubs need to add special incentives to get deals done, which how the Sabres got Chad Ruhwedel.

The team signed the much-lauded D-man from UMass Lowell to a two-year contract today, and Ruhwedel will make his debut this afternoon against Philadelphia.

The promise of playing time lured Ruhwedel.

"It’s what you have to do to get the player signed now," Buffalo General Manager Darcy Regier said outside First Niagara Center. "You have to make a commitment to put him on your roster, and so you have to have a comfort level with them playing some games here. That’s really part of the package.

Continue reading "Getting immediate shot with Sabres was part of deal with Ruhwedel, Regier says; Grigorenko coming back to organization" »

Sabres sign college All America Ruhwedel, who will make debut today against Flyers

By John Vogl

Chad Ruhwedel is under contract for the Sabres and will play today against Philadelphia, continuing a whirlwind weekend.

Buffalo signed the All America from UMass Lowell to a two-year contract today (terms were not immediately available), and he will be in the lineup this afternoon in First Niagara Center for the matinee with the Flyers.

Interim coach Ron Rolston said he doesn't know much about the 22-year-old and said two hours prior to puck drop that he has "no idea" who Ruhwedel will partner with along the blue line.

"I just I’ve watched him a little bit on film but don’t have a real solid feel," Rolston said. "He’s put some good numbers and he’s an All-American, so he’s got some ability.

"Just jumping in the lineup and playing an afternoon game against a lineup like Philly’s will be a challenge."

The Sabres chose to insert Ruhwedel on the same day he flew to town rather than call up a defensemen from Rochester to take the place of injured Tyler Myers.

"We just want to give him an opportunity here to see what he can do," said Rolston, who added college players usually are more ready for action than junior-level players. "They have a little more experience and maturity whether it’s in the game or in life, really, especially at college where there’s a lot of added responsibilities with scholastics and playing. The maturity level is usually a little bit higher, so that will give him an upper hand here."

Rolston refused to say who will start in goal. John Scott will return to the lineup after sitting last game as a healthy scratch.

Ron Rolston

Name to watch for Sabres fans: Chad Ruhwedel

By John Vogl

College hockey's All America team came out Friday, and among the first-teamers was UMass Lowell defenseman Chad Ruhwedel.

It's apparently possible that when the Sabres' roster for today's game against Philadelphia comes out, Ruhwedel will be on that, too.

Reports say the junior has left school to sign with the Sabres, but no contract has been filed with the league, The News has learned. Bob McKenzie of TSN reports that if a contract can be finalized by this afternoon, Ruhwedel will play against the Flyers.

A Sabres spokesman could not comment on the possibility.

The 22-year-old Ruhwedel is 5-foot-11, 188 pounds and a right-handed shot. The California native was also a Hockey East first-team selection after helping the River Hawks yield just 2.02 goals per game this season, fourth among NCAA Division I teams. He recorded seven goals, 16 assists and a plus-16 rating in 41 games for the Frozen Four semifinalists.

Ruhwedel played two seasons with Sioux Falls of the United States Hockey League before heading to UMass Lowell.

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 |