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Gionta puts on his new Sabres sweater, then picks up some gear for the kids

By John Vogl

Shortly after Brian Gionta slipped on his Sabres jersey for the first time, Buffalo's new No. 12 wandered over to the Sabres Store. He needed to pick up gear for his three kids, ages 9, 6 and 2.

Gionta knew what they would like because he was a young Sabres fan once.

The Rochester native is as close to home as he's going to get, and he was happy to be formally welcomed to town today in First Niagara Center.

"This was my childhood team growing up, and it’s a dream to play for them and put on the jersey," Gionta said. "I can’t wait till September comes."

The 35-year-old was the key part of Buffalo's free agent frenzy Monday. The Sabres signed five veterans to lead the rebuild.

"By no means am I going to come here and work miracles," Gionta said, "but I just try to be a presence and be somebody for the young guys coming along, being around and having some experience in the league that they can be a sounding board."

Sabres General Manager Tim Murray is spending today reshuffling NHL depth charts after players moved often during the opening day of free agency. He's looking at signing a couple of players for the Rochester Americans in the next two days or so. Then he'll work with Ted Nolan to find assistant coaches.

"Whatever other surprises comes, comes," Murray said. "That certainly won’t be me. It’ll be if somebody likes someone on our team or something like that."

Tim Murray and Brian Gionta

Folks from all over the hockey world send warm wishes to Sabres' Jeanneret as he begins cancer fight

By John Vogl

Rick Jeanneret is a Buffalo treasure, but he's more than that. He's a hockey icon, with the Hall of Fame resume to prove it.

So, as expected, the warm wishes have poured forth after the announcer released the news he has throat cancer. Here's a sampling.

Digesting the Sabres' BIG day of free agency

A wrapup of what was a very, very busy July 1 opening of free agency for the Buffalo Sabres:

John Vogl story: Sabres load up on veteran talent | AUDIO from GM Tim Murray

Amy Moritz story: Gorges deal done in a heartbeat

Bucky Gleason column: Murray lands marquee mentor

Get a look at the Sabres' new faces in a PHOTO GALLERY that tracks their NHL careers over the past decade.

See what the Sabres contract depth chart now looks like. 

Review Monday's deals, then vote in our POLL on which one you think is the best move:

Brian Gionta -- Signed to a three-year, $12.75 million contract. The Rochester native was the second American-born player to be the captain of the Montreal Canadiens. The 12-year NHL veteran played the last five seasons in Montreal. Drafted by New Jersey in the third round of the 1998 draft, he played seven seasons with the Devils, including on the 2002-03 Stanley Cup-winning team.

Matt Moulson -- Signed to a five-year, $25 million contract. It's his second go-round with the Sabres, first arriving in Buffalo after an Oct. 27 trade with the New York Islanders. Moulson notched 29 points (11 goals, 18 assists) in 44 games with the Sabres. He then was traded in March to the Minnesota Wild along with Cody McCormick in exchange for Torrey Mitchell and two draft picks

Cody McCormick -- Signed to a three-year, $4.5 million. He returns for his fifth season in Buffalo after finishing the 2013-14 season with 14 games as a member of the Minnesota. In his time with the Sabres, he played in 168 games. totaling 29 points (10 goals, 19 assists) with 253 penalty minutes.

Andrej Meszaros -- Signed a one-year, $4.125 million contract. The nine-year NHL blueliner has played for Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Philadelphia and Boston. He spent parts of four seasons with the Flyers before being dealt to Boston in March. With the Bruins, he registered five points (2 goals, 3 assists) in 12 regular-season games while adding two assists in four Stanley Cup playoff games.

Marcus Foligno -- Signed to a two-year, $3.75 million contract. He has played in parts of four seasons with the Sabres since being a fourth-round draft pick of the organization in 2009. He had 19 points (7 goals, 12 assists) in 74 games this season.

Josh Gorges -- Acquired via trade with the Montreal Canadiens for a 2016 second-round draft pick (via Minnesota). A stay-at-home defenseman he has 98 points (14 goals, 84 assists) in 560 NHL games with Montreal and San Jose.

Here's how the day unfolded in our LIVE BLOG while you can review more of the day's events by scrolling through the rest of the Sabres Edge blog.

Sabres on Jeanneret throat cancer diagnosis: 'We wish RJ a full and speedy recovery'

By John Vogl

Sabres broadcasting legend Rick Jeanneret has revealed he has throat cancer and will undergo at least six weeks of radiation, with chemotherapy a possibility. The team released the following statement this morning:

"The Buffalo Sabres are deeply saddened to learn of Rick Jeanneret’s cancer diagnosis. RJ has been a vital part of the Sabres family and the Buffalo community for 43 years, and this news undoubtedly weighs heavily on everyone who has had the privilege of listening to his broadcasts through the years.

"As he begins treatment in the coming weeks, we will continue to keep RJ, his wife, Sandra, his mother, Kay, his sister, Marcia, his children, Mark and Chris, his stepdaughter, Shelly, and his grandchildren in our thoughts. We wish RJ a full and speedy recovery and know his tenacity will serve him well in his fight.

"On behalf of the Jeanneret family, the Sabres are asking for respect of the family’s privacy as RJ undergoes treatment."

The team has created an email address, GetWellRJ@sabres.com, for fans to send well-wishes and notes of encouragement.

It was a crazy, busy day. Here's a look at the Sabres done deals

by Amy Moritz

Did you catch your breath yet? It was a crazy, busy day for the Buffalo Sabres who signed five players and added one via trade and at the end of the day GM Tim Murray was pretty pleased with all the action.

"We’re trying to rebuild an organization into a top organization," Murray said. "Today shows that we finished 30th place and there are quality players that want to come here. I’ve thought that all along, but you’re never sure until the clock hits 12. And there were more than what we got done. It wasn’t just these guys that want to come here. There were other choices. There still are, but these were the guys we thought we should go forward quickly with for what we wanted to achieve, and it happened in about 2 hours and 15 minutes."

The list is filled with veteran players, a key element for Murray as he looks for the younger players to mentored into good NHL players.

"We’re more competitive. We’ve got a lot of character now. We have leadership now. That’s important to me when you’re adding young players every year," Murray said.

Audio: GM Tim Murray says 'exciting' day spent adding leadership will be huge benefit to Sabres' prospects

By John Vogl

As name after recognizable name joined the Sabres' organization today -- Brian Gionta, Matt Moulson, Josh Gorges and Andrej Meszaros among them -- General Manager Tim Murray was thinking about how excited the organization's prospects must be.

Murray was excited, too.

The GM wrapped up Buffalo's litany of moves in First Niagara Center. The full audio is below. The highlights:

*Getting Gionta to come to Buffalo was a huge way to fill the leadership void. Gionta was the captain in Montreal.

"That's real stuff," Murray said. "That's legendary stuff. And now he's a Buffalo Sabre."

*Murray said the organization will not be a punch line. He advises fans to get on the bandwagon sooner rather than later.

*Still, Murray said, he doesn't expect the Sabres to be contenders this year.

"Maybe the players do," he said. "That's good."

Sabres' updated contract depth chart

By John Vogl

The Sabres have been busy today, bringing in forwards Matt Moulson, Brian Gionta and Cody McCormick, and defenseman Josh Gorges. They've also re-signed restricted free agent Marcus Foligno.

Their updated depth chart is as follows:

Left wing

Matt Moulson, $5 million cap hit (five years left)

Cody Hodgson, $4.25 million (five)

Marcus Foligno, $1.875 million (two)

Nicolas Deslauriers, $637,500 (two)

Center

Torrey Mitchell, $1.9 million (one)

Cody McCormick, $1.5 million (three)

Zemgus Girgensons, $894,167 (two)

Brian Flynn, $637,500 (one)

Matt Ellis, $550,000 (one)

Right wing

Brian Gionta, $4.25 million (three)

Chris Stewart, $4.15 million (one)

Drew Stafford, $4 million (one)

Patrick Kaleta, $1.25 million (one)

Defensemen

Tyler Myers, $5.5 million (five)

Andrej Meszaros, $4.125 million (one)

Josh Gorges, $3.9 million (four)

Mike Weber, $1.67 million (two)

Rasmus Ristolainen, $925,000 (two)

Jake McCabe, $925,000 (one)

Mark Pysyk, $870,000 (one)

Goaltenders

Michal Neuvirth, $2.5 million (one)

Jhonas Enroth, $1.25 million (one)

The Sabres still need to sign restricted free agents Tyler Ennis and Chad Ruhwedel.

Sabres add another defenseman, bring in Meszaros for reported one year, $4.125 million

By John Vogl

Tim Murray just won't quit.

The Sabres haved added their fifth piece of the day, signing defenseman Andrej Meszaros for one year and $4.125 million, according to TSN. He joins acquisitions Josh Gorges, Brian Gionta, Matt Moulson and Cody McCormick.

Meszaros, 28, spent last season with Philadelphia and Boston, putting up a combined seven goals and 15 assists in 52 games. He has also played for Ottawa and Tampa Bay, totaling 56 goals and 224 points in 585 games.

The signing pushed the Sabres over the salary cap floor.

Live from opening day of NHL free agency

News Sports Reporter John Vogl will have all of the key updates as the NHL's free agency period begins today at noon. To get started:

Live Blog Live updates from opening of NHL free agency

Poll: Which Sabres move do you like best?

By John Vogl

The Sabres have had a good day -- a very good day.

Buffalo acquired defenseman Josh Gorges from Montreal for a second-round pick, signed free agents Brian Gionta (three years, $12.75 million), Matt Moulson (five years, $25 million) and Cody McCormick (three years, $4.5 million), and they re-signed Marcus Foligno (two years, $3.75 million).

So we ask ...

Canadiens send out farewell video to former captain and new Sabre Brian Gionta

By John Vogl

Montreal is hockey's most storied franchise. The Canadiens showed another reason why this afternoon.

The Habs created a farwell tribute video to former captain Brian Gionta, who joined the Sabres on a three-year, $12.75 million deal. Montreal also sent a tweet thanking Gionta.

Gorges excited to be coming to Buffalo

by Amy Moritz

It was a tough few days for Josh Gorges. The 29-year old defenseman was stunned when he heard the Montreal Canadiens were looking to trade him. He loved playing for Montreal. He loved his time with the team and the organization.

Still, the reality was the Canadiens wanted to trade him and Gorges looked over his list of approved teams. He added Buffalo.

Tuesday afternoon, he officially joined the Sabres.

Buffalo acquired Gorges by trading a 2016 second-round pick (via Minnesota) and he spoke with media members via conference call later in the day.

"I knew my time in Montreal was over and looking ahead I wanted to evaluate the teams on the list," Gorges said. "Looking at Buffalo, I always had a lot of respect for Ted Nolan as a head coach, the new ownership, what they're doing with the that team and the direction they're heading. I felt it was a good opportunity to go in and help with a good, young time. I figured it's a good fit for me and for my family and we're excited about it."

Just what excites a nine-year NHL veteran about joining a rebuild in Buffalo?

"From playing against them this year, they’re a tough team," Gorges said. "Their players work extremely hard, they come at you hard. It's never easy to play against them and when you have young guys willing and committed ... it's only going to get brighter."

Gorges nixed a trade to Toronto, saying after seven seasons playing for Montreal he couldn't bring himself to play for the Maple Leafs. So the rivarly the Sabres have with Toronto will be second nature to him.

"It won't take me long to get into that rivalry with Toronto," he said. "I've been living it a number of years already."

Foligno resigns with Sabres for $3.75 million

by Amy Moritz

There's no messing around on free agency day for Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray.

Add Marcus Folingo to the list of players signed today. The 22-year-old forward signed a two-year, $3.75 million deal. He has played 135 games over three seasons for the Sabres, scoring 18 goals with 32 assists.

Last season he scored seven goals with 12 assists and was a minus-17 in 74 games. 

Foligno was drafted by the Sabres in the fourth round in 2009. He is a Buffalo native and son of Sabre Hall of Fame forward Mike Foligno.

Sabres bring back Matt Moulson for five years, $25 million; McCormick also returning

By John Vogl

The Sabres' remain one of the busiest teams on the opening day of free agency, bringing back Matt Moulson for five years and $25 million.

Moulson came to Buffalo in October as part of the deal that sent Thomas Vanek to the New York Islanders. Buffalo sent him to Minnesota at the trade deadline for Torrey Mitchell and two second-round picks.

The Sabres have also brought back forward Cody McCormick for three years at $1.5 million per season.

Moulson gives the Sabres scoring punch on the wing. He had 11 goals and 29 points in 44 games with the Sabres and added six goals and 13 points in 20 games with the Wild and six goals and nine points in 11 games with the Isles. Moulson has topped 30 goals three times.

McCormick spent four seasons in Buffalo before being to sent to Minnesota along with Moulson. He brings grit and competitiveness, qualities the Sabres have been seeking.

Sabres sign former Montreal captain Brian Gionta to three-year, $12.75 million deal

By John Vogl

The Sabres got the leader they were looking for. Brian Gionta is coming to Buffalo.

The Sabres have signed the Montreal captain to three-year contract worth $4.25 million per season. The 35-year-old right winger just finished a five-year, $25 million deal with the Canadiens.

Gionta leaves the Habs after putting up 18 goals and 40 points in 81 games. But his game and leadership goes beyond points, and that's exactly what Buffalo wanted.

The Sabres sought at least two veteran leaders, and they got them both from Montreal less than 90 minutes into the free agency period. They acquired defenseman Josh Gorges from the Habs for a second-round pick in 2016, and Gorges (who had a modified no-trade clause) agreed to the deal partially because he knew Gionta was interested in Buffalo.

Gionta's deal with Buffalo includes a no-movement clause for the first two seasons and a limited no-trade clause in the third year.

Gionta, who is from Rochester, is a former U.S. Olympian who had his best season in 2005-06. He put up 48 goals and 89 points in 82 games with New Jersey. Gionta has 249 goals and 485 points in 776 games.

Ryan Miller signs with Vancouver

by Amy Moritz

Ryan Miller keeps going West.

The former Buffalo Sabres goalie signed a reported three-year, $18 million deal with the Vancouver Canucks.

Miller, who was traded with Steve Ott to St. Louis in March, went 19-10-8 with the Blues this year and 2-4 in six playoff games.

The 33-year old won 284 games over 11 seasons with the Buffalo Sabres. 

Sabres open free-agent frenzy with trade for Montreal defenseman Josh Gorges

By John Vogl and Amy Moritz

The Buffalo Sabres filled a need for veteran leadership on defense, acquiring blue-liner Josh Gorges from Montreal for a second-round pick in the 2016 draft.

The 29-year-old Gorges also fills a major need on the Sabres' payroll chart. He has four years remaining on his contract with a cap hit of $3.9 million per season.

Montreal had been trying to trade Gorges to Toronto, but the Habs-loving defenseman nixed the deal. He originally had 15 teams on his modified trade list, but he reportedly expanded it to include Buffalo.

"It’s tough when you first hear the news because I’ve really loved every moment that I’ve had here in Montreal," Gorges said on Sportsnet. "It’s become my home over the last eight years, and I’ve made a lot of friends in the city and on this team. That’s the hardest part is knowing you have to say bye to all that, but that’s the nature of the beast and part of the business we’re involved. You move on, and I’m excited about the opportunity to go to Buffalo and help that team out.

Gorges knows the main job in Buffalo this season is to develop young talent, but he's not ready to admit he'll play only 82 games this year.

"I still think as much as Buffalo has a lot of good, young players that they’re trying to develop, I think at the end of the day the mind-set still has to be to make the playoffs," Gorges said in the TV interview. "I think anything can happen, and as long as the team and the group of guys are committed and buy into what the coach is preaching and play as a team, it’s not impossible. That shouldn’t be our mind-set, just hoping to have an OK year and have guys get better. The mind-set still has to be, ‘We’ve got to find a way to get into the playoffs.’"

Gorges went to Buffalo partially because he heard his close friend and former Montreal teammate Brian Gionta was close to signing with the Sabres. About an hour later, Gionta signed with Buffalo.

"I think he sees they're going in a different direction and he's heard good things about the place," his agent, Kevin Epp, told The Buffalo News by phone. "He heard his good, close friend Gionta could be signing there. I think he sees a lot of good things in Buffalo."

Gorges is a stay-at-home defenseman who had one goal and 14 points in 66 games this season. He is 6-foot-1, 201 pounds.

Gorges, speaking on Sportsnet, said he vetoed the trade to Toronto because he could not envision himself going to such a rival. He'll continue the rivalry when Maple Leafs fans invade Buffalo two or three times a year.

"It’s hard to realize after being in Montreal for such a long time that you can switch over and play for the Toronto Maple Leafs," Gorges said. "Nothing against that organization or that team, but when you build a rivalry it’s hard mentally, emotionally to think, ‘Wow, I’ve grown to hate this team, to play against them. How could I really go and put my heart and soul into it?’

"So I just wanted to take some time before I made a decision. I’ve been thinking about waiving it to go there over the last few days, and then this came up here today."

Bought-out Sabres D-man Ehrhoff signs a one-year deal with Pittsburgh

By John Vogl

It didn't take Christian Ehrhoff long to find a new team.

The defenseman, bought out by the Sabres on Sunday, signed a one-year, $4 million deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins today just after free agency opened.

Ehrhoff became the top blue-liner on the market after Buffalo set him free. He had no desire to be part of Buffalo's rebuild, and he's taking a one-year gamble that the Penguins will win the Stanley Cup.

It helps that Ehrhoff won't need to chase money. He made $22 million in Buffalo during the past three seasons, and he'll get $12 million more over the next 14 years as part of the buyout.

Pittsburgh was looking for a talented defenseman because it is expected to lose Matt Niskanen to free agency.

Sabres' contract depth chart: Money to be spent at wing, defense

By John Vogl

There are teams with a lot of money to spend this summer, and then there's the Buffalo Sabres. They have tons, oodles, boatloads, carloads and planeloads of cash to spend.

The Sabres, with about $31 million in payroll committed to next season, are $20 million away from the salary cap floor. They are a whopping $38 million away from the upper limit.

UPDATE: They have since added Brian Gionta for three years at $4.25 million per year and Josh Gorges at $3.9 million, a total cap hit of $8.15 million.

Here's a look at their contract depth chart, keeping in mind that restricted free agents Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno and Chad Ruhwedel still need to be signed. Listed are the cap hit and number of years remaining, including the 2014-15 season.

Left wing

Cody Hodgson, $4.25 million (five)

Nicolas Deslauriers, $637,500 (two)

Center

Torrey Mitchell, $1.9 million (one)

Zemgus Girgensons, $894,167 (two)

Brian Flynn, $637,500 (one)

Matt Ellis, $550,000 (one)

Right wing

Brian Gionta, $4.25 million (three)

Chris Stewart, $4.15 million (one)

Drew Stafford, $4 million (one)

Patrick Kaleta, $1.25 million (one)

Defensemen

Tyler Myers, $5.5 million (five)

Josh Gorges, $3.9 million (four)

Mike Weber, $1.67 million (two)

Rasmus Ristolainen, $925,000 (two)

Jake McCabe, $925,000 (one)

Mark Pysyk, $870,000 (one)

Goaltenders

Michal Neuvirth, $2.5 million (one)

Jhonas Enroth, $1.25 million (one)

It's amazing that only six (UPDATE: eight) players have a deal that goes past this coming season. It means they'll have lots of money to spend again next summer.

Sabres' Murray knows what kind of players Nolan likes, but coach's personnel input is minimal

By John Vogl

The defined pecking order for most organizations is the general manager signs the players, and the coach coaches them. That's no different in Buffalo.

GM Tim Murray and coach Ted Nolan are in their first summer together with the Buffalo Sabres. Nolan will swing by the GM's office to see what players Buffalo is targeting, but he doesn't ask for anyone to be put on the list. Trades and signings are Murray's domain.

"I think I have a good feel on who he likes and what kind of player he likes," Murray said. "Is he in on every meeting or do we talk daily? No, but we do talk about players."

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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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