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Devil of a deal: Kovalchuk stuns hockey world with retirement, apparent bolt back to KHL

By Mike Harrington

The Ilya Kovalchuk contract, a 15-year, $100-million monstrosity signed in 2010, might be the single biggest reason we lost half a season -- and nearly an entire one -- to a lockout. It was voided in stunning fashion today and not for any further rules violation.  

Kovalchuk, the talented but enigmatic Russian who told me "who cares about goals?" after scoring an overtime winner here in 2010, has stunned the hockey world by announcing his retirement at age 30 -- with still 12 years and $77 million left on the deal. Of course, he's not really retiring, as there's already plenty of chatter he's going to play next year in the KHL. His statement through the Devils cited family reasons for his decision.

The Devils, remember, lost their first-round pick for next year as a penalty for Kovalchuk's initial 17-year, $102 million deal the league wouldn't authorize. His annual cap hit of nearly $6.7 million is gone with no post-age 35 recapture penalty.

That's all fine and well but think the Devils would have liked to have known this prior to the free agency period opening July 5? They could have gone elsewhere for help. They might have even kept David Clarkson. Just a selfish move by a selfish hockey player.

Sabres center Mikhail Grigorenko had just come off the ice at development camp this afternoon when he heard the news about one of his Russian idols.

"I don't understand. I was thinking is that some kind of joke or something," Grigorenko told me. "I'm really shocked. He's my favorite player in the NHL. He's a really good player and I was hoping he would keep playing in the NHL."

Bulletin: Sabres re-acquire Tallinder in deal with Devils

Hank
Henrik Tallinder is coming back to Buffalo. (Getty Images)


By Mike Harrington

The Buffalo Sabres have re-acquired an old friend, getting veteran defenseman Henrik Tallinder back from the New Jersey Devils for prospect winger Riley Boychuk.

Tallinder, 34, has spent the last three years in New Jersey after leaving Buffalo via free agency in 2010, when he was the rock as Tyler Myers' defense partner during Myers' Calder Trophy season. His career with the Devils never really panned out, as he spent the last two years battling injuries and sitting out as a healthy scratch.

Tallinder played in 25 games last season, posting one goal and three assists with an even rating. He was minus-11 during the 2011-12 season. He will make $3.5 million this year in the final year of his contract with a cap hit of $3.375 million. 

Tallinder was Buffalo's No. 2 pick in the 1997 draft and spent parts of eight seasons with the Sabres. He was one of the key members of the defense of the 2006 team that got to the Eastern Conference finals and the broken arm he suffered in Game Four proved to be a major factor in the seven-game loss to Carolina.

"We are excited to have Henrik back in the mix on our blue line," general manager Darcy Regier said in a release from the team. "His experience will be invaluable not only in adding more stability to our back end, but also in the development of some of our younger defensemen."

Continue reading "Bulletin: Sabres re-acquire Tallinder in deal with Devils" »

Sabres try to write 'same story' by runnin' past struggling Devils

By Mike Harrington

A mostly quiet morning in First Niagara Center in advance of tonight's Sabres-Devils game (Reminder: It's been moved to 7:30 and will be televised on NBC Sports Network). The Sabres skated for about 30 minutes while only a few Devils stopped by since they played last night against Toronto in the Prudential Center.

Ryan Miller will be in goal tonight against Martin Brodeur. Thomas Vanek is out again and did not take the morning skate but interim coach Ron Rolston said that was a scheduled day off and Vanek will return to practice Monday.

This will be the sixth straight game Vanek has missed with what the team is calling an upper-body muscle strain. Rolston said he continues to target Tuesday's game in Winnipeg as Vanek's return date. We'll see.

The Sabres have won two straight and are 5-2-2 in their last nine games but start the day 12th in the Eastern Conference with 36 points, sixth back of the eighth-place Islanders but with a game in hand. According to Sportsclubstats.com's calculations, they need to earn 16 of the 20 points they have left on the table to just have a roughly 50-50 shot at the postseason.

Continue reading "Sabres try to write 'same story' by runnin' past struggling Devils" »

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Live from First Niagara Center: Devils vs. Sabres with second intermission FlashChat

With Grigorenko decision looming, fate decided for other junior eligibles

Galchen
The Canadiens are keeping No. 3 overall pick Alex Galchenyuk. (Getty Images)

By Mike Harrington

The Sabres are still up in the air with Mikhail Grigorenko even though the decision to keep him in the NHL seems like a no-brainer from this view. He's talented, he's creative and he plays center -- an area this team is woefully thin at. You want to see Grigorenko or Matt Ellis? You want them to force Ville Leino back to center, as Lindy Ruff mused about today? Please.

Keep the kid.

Still, it's only been 50-50 among other NHL teams about keeping key junior eligibles or sending them back. Here's a quick rundown:

Continue reading "With Grigorenko decision looming, fate decided for other junior eligibles" »

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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 | jvogl@buffnews.com

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 | mharrington@buffnews.com


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 | amoritz@buffnews.com

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