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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."

Happy July 1, Sabres fans

As Buffalo Sabres fans are well aware, free agency begins today, July 1, which has been a notable day of additions and subtractions over the years. 

As is the case every year, John Vogl will be all over the day's happenings here at the Sabres Edge blog. Here are a few links to previous years' blogs, beginning with stories about the infamous July 1 in 2007:

2007 -- Notable: The departure of Drury and Briere

There was no singular blog that season, but this Sabres Edge archive page provides several posts on how that day went down (most recent at the top).

Stories in the July 1, 2007 Buffalo News: 

Briere, Drury up for grabs by Tim Graham

Bucky Gleason column: Face of franchise could change today

Stories in the July 2, 2007 Buffalo News:

Sabres leaders now part of team's past by John Vogl

Sabres never in running to re-sign co-captains by Tim Graham

Bucky Gleason column: Sabres get lesson in business

Stories in the July 3, 2007 Buffalo News:

Sabres put on a brave face by John Vogl (off news conference)

Players have varied reactions to departures by Tim Graham

Bucky Gleason column: Blame rests solely with team brass

Story in July 5, 2007 Buffalo News:

Why the captain jumped ship: Newly signed Rangers center Chris Drury says he had agreed to Sabres pact in fall

Review live blogs:

2013 -- Notable for Sabres: Not much! (actually July 5)

2012 -- Notable for Sabres: John Scott signed 

2011 -- Notable for Sabres: Ville Leino signed

2010 -- Notable for Sabres: Lost Lydman and Tallinder, signed Leopold

2009 -- Notable for Sabres: Steve Montador signed

2008 -- Notable for Sabres: Signed Patrick Lalime, not Brooks Orpik

U.S. hockey fans will have new faces, channel bringing them news today on NHL Network

By John Vogl

TSN, the Canadian sports giant, has been a much-beloved regular in U.S. homes on hockey's big days. NHL Network would simulcast the channel for events such as the trade deadline and the start of free agency, which is today.

The contract frenzy will give fans in the United States their first look at the NHL’s big free agent signing. The league’s 12-year, $5 billion deal with Rogers Communications kicks in today. NHL Network will simulcast Sportsnet’s live coverage beginning at 11 a.m., which boots erstwhile mainstay TSN off the American airwaves.

The Sportsnet programming will be hosted by Daren Millard, Jeff Marek and Christine Simpson, who have a big job ahead after taking over for TSN's James Duthie.

The new panelists and hockey insiders are Nick Kypreos, Damien Cox, Elliotte Friedman, Doug MacLean, John Shannon, Scott Morrison, Chris Johnston, Greg Millen, Darren Pang and Billy Jaffe. They have even bigger shoes to fill with fans used to the likes of Bob McKenzie, Darren Dreger and Pierre LeBrun.

NHL Network will show the Sportsnet coverage until 6 p.m. before putting on its own hourlong "NHL Tonight."

Sabres looking for veteran leadership, and Brian Gionta has Buffalo as a possible destination

By John Vogl

Tim Murray insists the Sabres' prospects aren't going to figure out life in the NHL on their own. The general manager wants to bring in veterans to help show the way.

Brian Gionta is on that list. More importantly, the Sabres are on his.

The Montreal captain has Buffalo as a possible destination, according to a source. Gionta is from Rochester, and the 35-year-old could be interested in closing his career near home.

Gionta is finishing a five-year, $25 million deal. He had 18 goals and 40 points in 81 games this season, and he added six assists and seven points in 17 playoff games.

"We’re in a position here that we could use a couple veteran guys," Murray said today. "On our free agent list there’s quite a few that fit our need for character, for leadership and all that stuff.

"I’d like to acquire a couple veteran guys that can play the game but can also show our kids how to be pros, how to play properly, how to look after yourself, so I am going to put a focus on at least two of those guys."

Sabres decline qualifying offer for Conacher; Canisius grad will be free agent

By John Vogl

Cory Conacher's homecoming was a short one.

The Buffalo Sabres have elected not to give a qualifying offer to the restricted free agent, according to his representatives at Uptown Sports. Conacher will be an unrestricted free agent and able to sign with any team at noon Tuesday.

The Sabres claimed the former Canisius College star off waivers from Ottawa in March. The 24-year-old relished the chance to recapture his game in Buffalo, but he foundered with only three goals and six points in 19 games.

Conacher's qualifying offer would have cost the Sabres $874,125.

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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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