The veterans are at HSBC Arena today for their physicals and testing but two longtime faces who are not are still in the news.
Toni Lydman won't be starting Ducks camp because of the news in this alarming story: He has been having headaches and double vision and team doctors are trying to find the source of the problem. Not the way for him to start his three-year, $9-million deal.
Tucked into this Newark Star-Ledger story about the news that Devils defenseman Anssi Salmela is behind on the road back from knee surgery is the fact that New Jersey has invited Adam Mair to camp on a training camp tryout. The betting is that he's going to be targeted for their new AHL affiliate in Albany.
Stay tuned for more from the arena as the veterans begin to come in and meet the media.
Tim Kennedy got up at 3 a.m. Thursday to catch an early-morning flight to New York and take part in his first informal workout with the Rangers. Once training camp comes, good luck to the South Buffalo product dealing with the wrath of John Tortorella.
Guess Tim Kennedy's agent really blew this one. While the pride of South Buffalo sits home unemployed because he foolishly was told he was a million-dollar player, former Flyers winger Arron Asham -- an established player on a team that made the Stanley Cup finals -- signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Penguins Friday.
Asham had 10 goals and 14 assists last year. Kennedy had 10 goals, 16 assists. Looks like a million is not the going rate for 26-point rookies.
One other point: One year and $700,000 was what it took to get a guy with edge like Asham? Wish the Sabres would have gotten in on that action. There has been chatter they were involved. But I guess watching Drew Stafford muddle through another season will be worth twice the price.
Buffalo Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier spoke for nearly 16 minutes about the decision to waive forward Tim Kennedy. Listen to the full version of what he had to say and watch highlights from the news conference:
Surprise, surprise: The New Jersey Devils have apparently won the bidding war with the Los Angeles Kings for free agent center Ilya Kovalchuk. This is being reported by the Newark Star-Ledger and the New York Post. The Devils' official Twitter feed reports a press conference will be held Tuesday at the Prudential Center.
The Devils' rental of Kovalchuk last year didn't go well, as they were first-round playoff losers to the Flyers. The deal with Atlanta that cost them Niclas Bergfors and Johnny Oduya among others would have been a total bust had Kovalchuk left for LA or somewhere else. Now, at least, they can build around him and make another run this year.
NHL.com has a good story on the new-look Devils. Lots of big-money names with a rookie head coach (John MacLean) behind the bench. I remain skeptical. Kovalchuk has won one playoff game in his career, let alone a series or the four needed to win the Stanley Cup. And let's see who they have to jettison to get under the cap before planning that Cup parade through beautiful, bucolic Newark.
UPDATE: Lots of chatter around Twitter, including a Russian report quoting Kovalchuk's mother, that reports it's a 17-year deal. Yes, 17. The New York Post reported last week the Devils had a 17-year deal on the table for Kovalchuk.
The NHL Players Association has released the schedule of arbitration hearings and the Sabres will be at the table on July 27 with Tim Kennedy and July 29 with Patrick Kaleta. Kennedy made $635,000 last season and produced 10 goals and 16 assists in 78 games over his first NHL campaign. Kaleta made $522,000 and had 10 goals, five assists but only played 55 games due to injuries.
The Sabres took Kaleta to arbitration, the only team in the league to do so with one of their players. It's reasonable to think both players could end up in the $1 million range when their hearings are complete.
The July 29 date will be watched around the league because that will be goaltender Antti Niemi's hearing with the Chicago Blackhawks. He made $827,000 last year and one can only imagine what he might get now after winning the Stanley Cup, which would further drive the Hawks into salary cap jail.
Boston's Blake Wheeler is on the docket for July 27 while Washington's Tomas Fleischmann has his case heard July 28. Former Sabre Clarke MacArthur goes to the table with Atlanta on July 21.
There's plenty of talk floating around that the first move Chicago tries to make is to shed Brian Campbell's $7.1 million annual cap hit. Good luck with that, unless the Hawks can get a team desperate to spend money (like the Islanders) to take the ex-Sabre for some prospects. And I'm fairly certain Campbell has some no-trade clauses in his deal as well that could cause trouble. (Upon further review, trading partner Atlanta is one of five teams, along with the Islanders, currently under the salary cap floor that could easily take Campbell's contract if it wanted to)
I would say the Sabres have to be interested in this situation because it would seem that center Patrick Sharp might be available again. He makes $3.9 million and would be a solid addition in Buffalo. The Hawks were adamant he wasn't getting dealt when they made all their moves with Le Thrash. They may have no choice now. They still have to deal with goaltender Antti Niemi's arbitration hearing later this month.
According to the latest figures on Capgeek.com, the Hawks have $113,000 in cap space left -- with only 15 players under contract and an overage penalty of $4.1 million to deal with as well!
Good thing they won the Cup last month or everything the Hawks did would have gone for naught.
Ex-Sabres defenseman Brian Campbell will get his day at home with the Stanley Cup on July 23, according to this story in his hometown newspaper, the Strathroy (Ont.) Age Dispatch. No word yet on Patrick Kane's appearance in Buffalo.
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews had his big day Sunday in his native Winnipeg and it was a busy one as the Tribune reports. Had a lake and a community center named after him, rode through town in a parade and got the key to the city. (Memo to Buffalo: This is how it's done. Keys are given to natives who actually do something or to important visitors, not to has-been football players pimping for reality television). Toews also made his first public comments about all the changes the Hawks have been forced to make since winning the Cup.
You can't expect the Flyers to go into next season thinking Michael Leighton is the answer in goal but they're not doing well so far in efforts to land a big-ticket replacement. Looks like trying to get the rights to San Jose's Evgeni Nabakov is a dead end, and the Philadelphia Inquirer is quoting an ESPN report that Dallas' Marty Turco has turned down a three-year deal in the $6 million range.
The Flyers apparently got permission from Dallas to negotiate with Turco even though the official free agent period doesn't begin until Thursday. The Flyers are likely to continue to talk with both goalies and with defensemen as well. They couldn't make a deal with Dan Hamhuis in that area.
Five players were waived Monday, notably ex-Sabre Ales Kotalik of Calgary and Jonathan Cheechoo of Ottawa, who never panned out as part of the Dany Heatley trade with San Jose. The players are expected to have their contract buyouts paid if they are not claimed and then enter the UFA pool on Thursday.
Boston assistant coach Craig Ramsay, the longtime former Sabres player and front office executive, has been taken to Buffalo General Hospital for precautionary reasons within the last hour. After feeling some sort of discomfort in the locker room, a 911 call was placed and Ramsay walked to an ambulance under his own power around 5:15.
The Sabres are off today but Lindy Ruff will have a press conference around 1 p.m. so keep it here for the latest injury updates on Tim Connolly and Jochen Hecht. In the meantime, here's some reading material for you from around the league:
Ennis leads all AHL rookies with 23 goals, 42 assists and 65 points in 69 games for Portland this season. He is also second with six game-winning goals and third with nine power-play tallies and was the most valuable player of the AHL All-Star Game played in Portland.
Past winners of the AHL rookie award include names like Terry Sawchuk (1949), ex-Sabre goalies Roger Crozier (1964) and Gerry Desjardins (1968), Rick Middleton (1974), Ron Hextall (1986), Brett Hull (1987) and ex-Sabres captain Daniel Briere (1998).
Can't remember when the Sabres pulled one out of the hat with two late goals to get even like they did Wednesday against the Canadiens? That's because it's pretty rare. In fact, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time in franchise history the Sabres got points in a game that they scored two goals with a goalie pulled for an extra attacker.
AP correspondent and WNY stats maven Mike Haim provides more detail, noting it's just the fourth time in franchise history the team got even with two goals in the final two minutes of regulation. The other three games ended in ties. The list from Haim:
12/22/77 vs. Pittsburgh - trailed 3-1, goals by Ric Seiling at 18.19 and Rene Robert at 18.39 1/8/85 vs. Hartford - trailed 4-2, goals by Dave Andreychuk at 19.32 and Mike Foligno at 19.51 12/4/92 vs. NY Islanders - trailed 5-3, goals by Alexander Mogilny at 18.34 and Pat LaFontaine at 19.33 3/24/10 vs. Montreal - trailed, 2-0, goals by Tim Connolly at 18:01 and Steve Montador at 19:12
Amazingly enough, there's a YouTube clip of the Pittsburgh comeback out there from the Penguins' broadcast. Whoever is on the call is downright terrible and a complete homer (love how he says, "we got 'em whipped" at the 1:15 mark of the clip with the score still 3-1).
Afternoon update: Checked on Dylan's comment below and the announcer is, in fact, legendary Pirates play-by-play man Bob Prince. He did Penguins games for one year (1977-78) after he had been whacked by the Bucs and folks in the Burgh hated him on hockey. I can see why. Oy vey.
By the way, Robert scored the tying goal by zipping by Pens defenseman Colin Campbell, now known as the clueless NHL discipline czar. The clip ends with 36 seconds still to play but the game finished in a 3-3 tie.
And while the Habs have still played well, their power play has suffered in their absence. Montreal remains second in the NHL with the man-advantage but it just 5 for 37 since the Olympic break and went 0 for 5 in Monday's 2-0 loss to Ottawa.
Meanwhile, Habs winger Travis Moen will be out after suffering a 50-stitch cut to his forehead after taking a skate to the face in a scary scene Monday. He will replaced on the third line by former Sabres farmhand Mathieu Darche.
Calling Colin Campbell! Calling Colin Campbell! Are you going to do anything today? The NHL's discipline czar has a pretty busy Monday at hand after two plays Sunday featuring the game's biggest stars.
First was the cheap shot Alexander Ovechkin leveled on old friend Brian Campbell in the NBC game in Chicago. It was a blatant push from behind into the end boards and Ovie got a game misconduct for it. Since Pittsburgh's Matt Cooke got nothing because there was no penalty on his now-infamous hit against Marc Savard, gotta believe Ovechkin is getting a couple games here. And star or not, Ovechkin is a repeat offender. And there's this: The word coming out of Chicago is that Campbell may have major collarbone and rib damage and could be done for at least the rest of the regular season.
Then we had a disgraceful display later in the day by Tampa Bay's Steve Downie, a noted hack, against Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby. Check out this gruesome one and see how oddly Crosby's knee contorts. Amazing he was able to return to the game. Let's see if Downie gets the book thrown at him for going after a star. Memo to Colin Campbell: The Bruins might have similar plans for Crosby come Thursday night in Beantown because you did nothing on the Savard play and they've been getting killed at home for not coming to Savard's defense.
Pretend you're Campbell and make a decision on these two plays here. Most of you would probably do a better job than he's been doing anyway.
After hearing, "Why didn't they trade for a defenseman to help the power play?", the No. 1 question I get these days from just about everybody concerns the status of Mike Robitaille. The former Sabre and beloved television analyst -- who I'm happy to report is as great a person off camera as he seems on it -- is in recovery mode after spinal surgery following a February auto accident on his way to a game.
Clarke MacArthur hopped off the plane in Atlanta and right on to the Thrashers scoresheet with a goal -- assisted by Maxim Afinogenov, no less -- in his first game with his new team to help spark Thursday's 6-3 win over the Islanders. You can read the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's game report with comments from MacArthur here.
Following the morning skate, MacArthur said "my time kind of went a little stale in Buffalo" and he was happy with the deal. No disagreement there. That link will take you to the Thrashers' video page, where you'll hear from both Mac and Max.
The Thrashers are 4-0-2 in their last six and 4-1-2 since trading Ilya Kovalchuk to the Devils. Hmmm. Interesting.
The other big story today takes place further up the Thruway in Syracuse, where the Crunch and Binghamton Senators may break the AHL attendance record when they play an outdoor game at the New York State Fairgrounds. The game starts at 1 and will be televised by the NHL Network. So will a pregame show that starts at 12:30. More than 19,000 tickets have already been sold and the AHL mark of 20,672 is within reach. Sabres broadcaster and former player Rob Ray will be part of an autograph signing during the first intermission in a day full of activities for fans.
Taking it outside is the theme of the day on NHL Network. Today's programming is filled with repeats of the past NHL outdoor games. The 2008 Sabres-Penguins game at the Ralph will air at 6 p.m. tonight and 8 a.m. Sunday. Today's airing comes right after a 3:30 showing of a long-forgotten 1991 preseason game between the Wayne Gretzky-led Kings and Rangers outdoors at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
The Pirates have been rolling. They took nine straight wins into Friday's game in Albany. Rochester, meanwhile, was searching for the 2,000th victory in franchise history Friday against Manitoba. Most of those wins came during the Amerks' 29 years as the Sabres' affiliate.
Rochester will induct three members to its Hall of Fame Sunday -- while opening a permanent hall. Randy Cunneyworth, Jim Wiemer and Kent Weisbeck earn the honor, with festivities beginning at 1 p.m.
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.
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.
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.