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POSTED ON Thursday, 07.24.2014 / 2:31 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / BEYOND THE BOARDS
(Photo Credit: Bill Wippert)

It takes a lot of big-name players and valuable assets to make a blockbuster trade.

When the Buffalo Sabres traded Ryan Miller and Steve Ott to the St. Louis Blues last season, a lot of focus was put on the first-round pick the Sabres acquired in 2015, the conditional pick that became a third-rounder in 2016, wing Chris Stewart and goaltender Jaroslav Halak.

One piece of the trade that might have easily fallen under the radar was the prospect Buffalo also received in the deal, forward William Carrier.

“He was a first-round touted kid that missed half the season with an ankle injury. He’s got size. He’s got skill,” Sabres general manager Tim Murray said at the time of the trade. “He’s got stuff that we have to help him with and that’s another part of it. We’re going to try to really buckle down here with our development program and help young guys get better. He’s just that – he’s a prospect.”

Sabres fans got their first live look at the 19-year-old wing last week during the team’s development camp at First Niagara Center.

Carrier, who now checks in at 6-foot-1 and 194 pounds, finished that injury-shortened draft season with 16 goals and 42 points in 34 games with Cape Breton of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He was selected in the second round of the 2013 NHL Draft by the Blues (57th overall) and then went on to sign a three-year entry level contract later that summer.

Last season, Carrier recorded 22 goals and 65 points in 66 games with Cape Breton and then Drummondville. Then he moved again when St. Louis and Buffalo came to an agreement on the evening of Feb. 28.

“I wasn’t really surprised with the trade,” he said. “I just didn’t think the trade would be that big. ”

Carrier said that the Sabres had scouted him a few times during the season and he talked with them a few times before the 2013 Draft, so he was already pretty familiar with some members of the organization.

However, he missed the end of last season with an ankle injury and was unable to join the Rochester Americans for their playoff run. He'll likely be with the Amerks in the fall.

“I was close to getting there,” he said. “I was going to show up for the second series.”

With his size and skill level, Carrier likes to see that teams around the League are attempting to model their lineups after that of the Stanley Cup-champion Los Angeles Kings.

“It seems like all the teams in the NHL are looking for big power forwards now. I’m happy with that,” he said.

He also thinks he's capable of filiing any role asked of him.

"If I get some checks, score some goals, I can play anywhere," Carrier said.

During the Blue & White Scrimmage last week, he did some things on the ice that impressed Rochester Americans coach Chadd Cassidy.

“I thought early in the game, he was feeling himself out. He made a great power move to the net, put another one off the crossbar. He fended a defender off with his body,” Cassidy said. “That’s what we expected to get as a player.

“We need to see a lot of more of that obviously, but initially, there’s a good frame there and he’s a big kid. He’s already a pretty heavy kid. He can play heavy and I think he’s going to continue to grow that frame and be a physical presence for us and a guy that can contribute offensively.”

The biggest things Carrier said he would like to work on are using his size more and adjusting to the speed of the professional ranks.

“The game is pretty physical,” he said. “It’s a lot more than where I played last year.”

POSTED ON Tuesday, 07.22.2014 / 2:11 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / BEYOND THE BOARDS
(Photo Credit: Bill Wippert)

In a rink in Edmonton, where he played hockey growing up, Tyler Ennis was about to take the ice last week when he took a call that will impact the rest of his life.

While on the phone with his agent, the 24-year-old center agreed to a new five-year contract with the Buffalo Sabres. Then he hit the ice.

“I was thinking, ‘Wow, I can’t believe how far I’ve come’ and really how excited I am to be a Buffalo Sabre,” he told Andrew Peters and Rob Ray on Sabres Hockey Hotline on Tuesday.


Later that day, he went to his parents’ house to make the contract official. He joked that he didn’t get too emotional.

“When we signed it, they were a little teary-eyed. Being the tough guy that I am, I didn’t cry but I was holding it back a little bit,” he said. “It was pretty cool. I’m proud and I’m really excited to improve my game and take Buffalo to the next level. It’s a pretty cool feeling.”

Last week after development camp wrapped up at First Niagara Center, Sabres general manager Tim Murray said while he’s not sure what position Ennis might play five years from now – whether he’s at center or on the wing – he does see a role for Ennis on the team.

“He had 21 goals this year on a not-very good team, playing as a No. 1 center, getting the bad matchups. I thought considering his slow start – I wasn’t here for that but I keep being told about it – he had a pretty successful year individually,” Murray said. “Hopefully that translates into having a better year with better players around him.”

Murray has already started to add talented veterans to the roster. On July 1, he signed wings Brian Gionta and Matt Moulson and traded for defenseman Josh Gorges. They’re players that can not only contribute offensively, but also provide a leadership presence in the locker room.

Moulson played 44 games for the Sabres last season and spent a lot of time on a line with Ennis and Drew Stafford. Ennis was happy to see the three-time 30-goal scorer return to Buffalo.

Ennis will look to learn from Moulson, Gionta, Gorges and the other older players like he did when he entered the NHL back in 2009-10.

“I think when I first came in to the League, our whole room was full of leaders,” he said. “I remember guys like Mike Grier. They were awesome for everyone.”

Ennis said that he and defenseman Tyler Myers are among the players already on the team that will be looked upon to step up as leaders.

“It’s time for us to take over now,” Ennis said. “It’s a good balance of older guys, middle guys ready to take over and lot of great young kids coming up.”

As far as the center ice position goes, Ennis knows he still has lots to improve on. While he did score a career-high 21 goals last season, he’d like to work on winning more faceoffs and being better in his own end, particularly down low.

“I’m not satisfied with what I’ve done,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do still”

POSTED ON Monday, 07.21.2014 / 2:33 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / BEYOND THE BOARDS
(Photo Credit: Bill Wippert)

Few prospects have seen their offensive production escalate in the past two seasons as much as Nicholas Baptiste has.

After recording only eight goals and 27 points in his first season with the Sudbury Wolves in 2011-12, Baptiste broke out with 21 goals and 48 points in 2012-13, thanks in large part to a strong second-half surge. That outburst helped him to get drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in the third round of the 2013 NHL Draft (69th overall).

But in 2013-14, he reached new heights.

Baptiste racked up 45 goals and 89 points and was a plus-20 through 65 games. In five playoff games, he picked up a goal and four assists.

“My season last season was definitely my best season thus far,” he said. “I think I’ve really upped my level of intensity and the way I play. I’ve started to believe in myself a little more and in my abilities. I think I’m going to put up big numbers this season so I’m really happy with how I played.”

That confidence helped him to what he feels was his best season yet. In the year-end Ontario Hockey League’s Coaches Poll, he was named the Eastern Conference’s Best Shootout Skater and finished second to Barrie’s Andreas Athanasiou as the best skater in the conference.

I’ve really upped my level of intensity and the way I play. I’ve started to believe in myself a little more and in my abilitiesNicholas Baptiste

He just missed the cut for Team Canada’s World Junior roster in December but he said he gained a lot of confidence from being there.

He’s been invited back to Team Canada’s World Junior camp and will attend next month with Buffalo’s 2014 first-round pick Sam Reinhart. He’s seen what it’s going to take to make the team and feels he has a great chance to do so this year.

“I needed to be more consistent in my own end and I think that this season in Sudbury, I elevated myself in terms of shooting the puck and getting pucks to the net and going to the net hard,” he said. “I think that was part of the reason for why I was so successful with my numbers.”

The 18-year-old right ring has developed a knack for scoring goals, but he’s shown some versatility as well. He’s also capable of throwing the body around and playing a more physical style.

“I feel like I’ve developed my game and I’ve really shown that when Buffalo drafted me that I was a player that maybe went a little later than I thought I might’ve,” he said. “But I wanted to show that I could be a guy that could point produce and play a third-fourth line role as well.”

Right out of the gate, Baptiste showed he has a nose for the net.

At the NHL Prospects Tournament hosted by the Detroit Red Wings in Traverse City, Mich. in September, Baptiste finished second overall in scoring with seven points (4+3) in four games. He carried that momentum into the season and hasn’t stopped yet.

He signed a three-year, entry-level contract with Buffalo in May and hopes to make himself a part of Buffalo’s future plans. During the Blue & White Scrimmage during development camp last week, Baptiste scored in a winning effort for his squad. Then in the 3-on-3 tournament on Friday, his team overcame a last-place finish in the round-robin to win a playoff game.

The camp featured 13 first- and second-round picks from the past five drafts including Reinhart, Zemgus Girgensons, Rasmus Ristolainen, Mark Pysyk, Mikhail Grigorenko, J.T. Compher and Brendan Lemieux.

“When you see a team of prospects like this who are all so good, you think to yourself, ‘I could be on that team.’” he said. “And you really expend yourself to make that team next year.”

POSTED ON Friday, 07.18.2014 / 9:12 AM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / BEYOND THE BOARDS

Buffalo Sabres prospects will take the ice at First Niagara Center at 10:30 a.m. for the inaugural 3-on-3 tournament. The camp will wrap up as soon as a champion is named.


38 Sean Malone
24 Hudson Fasching
37 Colin Jacobs
6 Brandon Prophet
61 Nikita Zadorov

25 Mikhail Grigorenko
32 Justin Kea
22 Drake Caggiula
41 Liam Pecararo
3 Mark Pysyk

20 Nicholas Baptiste
17 J.T. Compher
21 Jonathon Martin
12 Patrick Russell
34 Jerome Gauthier-Leduc

45 Eric Cornel
65 Jordan Samuels-Thomas
27 Tim Schaller
44 Victor Olofsson
55 Rasmus Ristolainen

23 Sam Reinhart
15 Justin Bailey
47 Daniel Catenacci
52 Brady Austin
5 Andrew Prochno

28 Zemgus Girgensons
10 William Carrier
46 Maxwell Willman
4 Anthony Florentino
72 Brycen Martin

33 Joel Armia
78 Brendan Lemieux
13 Kevin Sundher
29 Jake McCabe

POSTED ON Wednesday, 07.16.2014 / 1:18 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / BEYOND THE BOARDS
(Photo Credit: Bill Wippert)

When Mikhail Grigorenko weighed in at the start of last season, he was listed at 209 pounds. After a few weeks hitting the gym this summer, the 20-year-old center checked into this year’s development camp 10 pounds heavier.

After his season with the Rochester Americans ended, he went back to train in Quebec City. He said he’s been training hard the past two months and so far, that work has paid off. The added muscle is already helping to improve his game.

He said he’s able to better protect the puck and he’s able to comfortably throw the body around a bit more as well. He'd like to maintain his weight at about 219 pounds.

“That’s probably what I need the most, be more explosive and faster on the ice,” he said. “I felt pretty good those first few practices and felt pretty confident in the battles. I felt pretty strong too.”

He’s got the right perspective coming into camp. He knows that there’s a lot in front of him and he’s got a lot to earn.Chadd Cassidy

Since Buffalo drafted him 12th overall in 2012, he’s moved around a lot from league to league. In 2012, he started the season in with Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and joined the Sabres roster once the lockout ended. However, he only played 25 NHL games that year before Buffalo sent him back to junior.

He started 2013-14 in Buffalo as well, but once again, was sent back to Quebec after playing 18 in games.

After each season in Quebec, he's played a handful of games for Rochester.

Grigorenko takes responsibility for bouncing around and understands that no opportunity is going to be handed to him.

“From past experiences, I’ve kind of realized that it was probably no one’s fault but mine that I didn’t stay in the NHL,” he said. “If I want to play in the best league in the world, it’s just on me. No one is going to make me play just because I was drafted in the first round. I just need to go out there and just be the best.”

Amerks coach Chadd Cassidy is running development camp and has been impressed by Grigorenko’s work ethic and attitude.

“I think he’s got to keep doing what he’s doing. I thought he’s been good all week. Obviously we all know Mikhail and his strengths and weaknesses,” he said. “I think he’s addressed them.”

Just because Grigorenko finished the season in Rochester doesn’t mean he’s content with starting there this upcoming season there. He said he’s dedicated to earning a spot on the Sabres roster in the fall.

“I really hope to start the season in Buffalo. I think it’s just going to be up to me,” he said.

During his stint in Rochester this spring, the points came early for Grigorenko, but as his production declined, he saw his ice time begin to dwindle.

“I’m a player that has to produce and I didn’t do it, so my ice time was a little less and I had less opportunity,” he said. “I just didn’t get points anymore, which I understand why the coaches didn’t play me more.”

However, while with the Amerks, Cassidy saw Grigorenko become more committed to playing a defensive role and that has carried over into development camp.

“I think he was really good with the puck tonight. I thought he was way better without it than what we’ve seen in the past,” Cassidy said Tuesday night after an intra-squad scrimmage. “He was that way at the end of the year in Rochester. I thought he was excellent for us. He continues to make strides and we’ve got to keep in perspective that he’s still a young kid. He’s been through a lot.”

Whether he’s in Buffalo or Rochester, Grigorenko will be able to play a full season against men for the first time in his career. He thinks that facing tougher competition will help further his development.

“He’s got the right perspective coming into camp,” Cassidy said. “He knows that there’s a lot in front of him and he’s got a lot he’s got to earn.”

POSTED ON Tuesday, 07.15.2014 / 1:19 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / BEYOND THE BOARDS

The annual intra-squad featuring Buffalo Sabres prospects will be held Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at First Niagara Center. The scrimmage is open to the public and both parking and admission are free.

For those who cannot attend, Sabres.com will provide a live stream of the event. The scrimmage will include three 20-minute, stopped-time periods. Sabres broadcast team Dan Dunleavy and Rob Ray will call the game, with Brian Duff conducting interviews during the intermissions.

Here are the projected lineups:

65 Jordan Samuels-Thomas - 28 Zemgus Girgensons - 10 William Carrier
47 Daniel Catenacci - 25 Mikhail Grigorenko - 24 Hudson Fasching
21 Jonathon Martin - 38 Sean Malone - 15 Justin Bailey
41 Liam Pecararo - 37 Colin Jacobs - 44 Victor Olofsson

72 Brycen Martin - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
29 Jake McCabe - 4 Anthony Florentino
5 Andrew Prochno

35 Andrey Makarov
31 Calvin Petersen

78 Brendan Lemieux - 23 Sam Reinhart - 33 Joel Armia
45 Eric Cornel - 17 J.T. Compher - 20 Nicholas Baptiste
22 Drake Caggiula - 27 Tim Schaller - 13 Kevin Sundher
46 Maxwell Willman - 32 Justin Kea - 12 Patrick Russell

61 Nikita Zadorov - 3 Mark Pysyk
52 Brady Austin - 34 Jerome Leduc
6 Brandon Prophet

40 Linus Ullmark
31 Jonas Johansson
50 Nathan Lieuwen

POSTED ON Monday, 07.14.2014 / 3:57 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / BEYOND THE BOARDS

Nathan Lieuwen has dealt with multiple concussions over the course of his career, so he was very careful in dealing with his latest injury.

The 22-year-old goaltender was hurt late in Buffalo’s game in Philadelphia on April 8 when Flyers forward Jay Rosehill collided with Lieuwen’s head in the crease. Lieuwen was diagnosed with a concussion and just like that, his season was over.

It took Lieuwen five to six weeks to get back on the ice and he said he took some extra time after that to make sure he was all right. Monday morning, he was back skating at First Niagara Center as the Sabres held the first practice of their week-long development camp.

“I am fantastic, doing really well,” he said. “It sticks in your mind, but I think that’s part of the reason I’m so thrilled that I got healthy so fast. I’m very pleased with how quickly I made progress and I’m feeling really good right now.”

Lieuwen played seven games for the Sabres last season, logging a 2.98 goals against average and a .906 save percentage in this first stint in the NHL. He hopes to have another chance soon. Having that experience also gave him a major confidence boost.

“It was incredible. Just to get a taste of it,” Lieuwen said. “Now I know how badly I really do want it and I’m excited to have had that opportunity.”

He’s one of five goaltenders in camp. The other goaltenders are Andrey Makarov, who carried the load for the Amerks while Lieuwen and Matt Hackett were in Buffalo, 2013 draft pick Calvin Petersen and Swedish netminders Linus Ullmark and Jonas Johansson. Ullmark was the goaltender of the year in Sweden and Johansson was selected by the Sabres in the third round of this year’s draft.

Is there extra pressure knowing how many other young, talented goaltenders are in the system?

“It’s the same as it always has been. I worry about myself and I earn everything I get,” he said. “You talk about a depth chart or how many guys are out there or just how many in general, goalies – there are two on a team. But you play well and good things will happen.

“…At the end of the day, it’s whoever’s playing well now. Maybe there is a little bit of ‘What you have done and where you have been.’ But for me, it’s all about playing well whenever I get on the ice.”

POSTED ON Monday, 07.14.2014 / 10:02 AM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / BEYOND THE BOARDS

On-ice coach’s practice: 10:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

65 Jordan Samuels-Thomas - 28 Zemgus Girgensons - 10 William Carrier
47 Daniel Catenacci - 25 Mikhail Grigorenko - 24 Hudson Fasching
21 Jonathon Martin - 38 Sean Malone - 15 Justin Bailey
41 Liam Pecararo - 37 Colin Jacobs - 44 Victor Olofsson

72 Brycen Martin - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
29 Jake McCabe - 4 Anthony Florentino
5 Andrew Prochno

35 Andrey Makarov
31 Calvin Petersen


78 Brendan Lemieux - 23 Sam Reinhart - 33 Joel Armia
45 Eric Cornel - 17 JT Compher - 20 Nicholas Baptiste
22 Drake Caggiula - 27 Tim Schaller - 13 Kevin Sundher
46 Maxwell Willman - 32 Justin Kea - 12 Patrick Russell

61 Nikita Zadorov - 3 Mark Pysyk
52 Brady Austin - 34 Jerome Gauthier-Leduc
6 Brandon Prophet

40 Linus Ullmark
31 Jonas Johansson

POSTED ON Monday, 06.30.2014 / 3:26 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / BEYOND THE BOARDS

By drafting Samson Reinhart with the second-overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft on Friday, the Buffalo Sabres added a big new building block to their hockey team.

Sabres general manager Tim Murray sat next to Reinhart on Monday as the two addressed the media at First Niagara Center. Murray was hired in January to take over as general manager. He knew reshaping the organization was going to be complicated and it’s a task he was prepared for.

“I knew it was a big job and I know it’s a job that has to be done the proper way. And that’s hard. That’s the hard part,” Murray said. “We all want to speed things up. As soon as we got him, I said, ‘I wish it was 2016.’ But it’s not and you have to do it properly and you have to go through the good and the bad that goes with it.

“I firmly believe that we’re going to stay the course here and do what we think is the right way to be a good team for a long time.”

What’s helped, Murray said, is having a good stable of young players and prospects already in the organization. He mentioned NHL’ers like Marcus Foligno, Tyler Ennis and Tyler Myers and defensive prospects Mark Pysyk, Rasmus Ristolainen, Nikita Zadorov and Jake McCabe as examples of players the team can build around.

Since Murray came aboard, the team has also acquired more high draft picks – including St. Louis’ first-rounder in 2015 – and prospects like Nicolas Deslauriers, Hudson Fasching and William Carrier.

Possessing an abundance of young talent and other assets means Murray’s vision could come to fruition sooner rather than later.

“There are good young players that were here before me. If we turn this around, it’ll be me getting a lot of the credit, but there’s a foundation that was here before I got here,” Murray said. “And I have to recognize that and you guys have to recognize that. I think what that does is, it makes our plan to rebuild quickly a viable plan.”

POSTED ON Monday, 06.30.2014 / 2:27 PM
By Chris Ryndak - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak) / BEYOND THE BOARDS

Unrestricted free agency opens at noon on Tuesday. Sabres general manager Tim Murray and his staff have made their lists and hope their targets have a mutual interest.

“The first guy I call might not be the first guy on our list. It might be the guy who’s shown the most interest in coming here right off the bat. But there’s been a lot of interest,” he said on Monday. “Is it legit interest? I’m not sure. We’ll find out tomorrow, right? But I’m pleased with the amount of calls. I’m pleased with what they say is interest in coming to Buffalo.”

Murray said he’s looking for veterans who are willing to be mentors to the younger players in the organization. He cited former Sabres captain Steve Ott as an example of that type of player. Murray has been in contact with Ott’s agent as well as the agent of Matt Moulson among other unnamed players.

Matt Moulson is a possibility. But one conversation doesn’t mean that they’re coming here for sure,” Murray said. “It’s just, ‘Hey it’s so-and-so. Steve liked his time there. Matt liked his time there, whatever the case may be.’

“But we might be 20th on their list. But there has been a conversation with those guys as there has been with many other guys.”


Murray also talked about the team’s decision to use their second compliance buyout on defenseman Christian Ehrhoff. By using a compliance buyout, Ehrhoff’s cap hit will not count against the team.

Also since Ehrhoff signed a long-term contract prior to the last Collective Bargaining Agreement, there would be serious cap penalties assessed to Buffalo if Ehrhoff retired before the end of the contract even if he was traded.

Here’s what Murray had to say:

“We went through the scenarios. We didn’t feel that we could trade him. There was opportunity to trade him but with the penalties on the contract at the end if he were to retire, we felt that in six or seven years when he’s making a million dollars and he has a lot of incentive to retire, that the penalties were too high for where we want to be at that time.

"We want to be a contending team that spends to the cap and has ability to acquire a free agent at the trade deadline that puts us over the top that makes lot of money and that contract was a hindrance.

"I like Christian. He’s a good player. I guess he could’ve played it out here. He didn’t seem to be all in on that. And I respect that. I wasn’t here when he was signed so I don’t think going through a rebuild was attractive to him – not think, I know that.

"So this seemed to be the best course of action for us to move on, be out from under that contract, what could possibly come at the end of that contract, and now we don’t have to worry about it. Now we just have to focus on rebuilding, bringing in good young players and get going here.”

With Ehrhoff out of the picture, the Sabres will have more to spend to get to the salary cap floor. Murray doesn’t see it as an issue. He said he one way is to target teams near the cap ceiling who decided to spend money on big-ticket free agents and will look to shed salary in other ways.





1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52


C. Hodgson 72 20 24 -26 44
T. Ennis 80 21 22 -25 43
D. Stafford 70 16 18 -19 34
C. Ehrhoff 79 6 27 -27 33
C. Stewart 63 15 11 0 26
C. Conacher 79 7 19 1 26
T. Myers 62 9 13 -26 22
Z. Girgensons 70 8 14 -6 22
M. Foligno 74 7 12 -17 19
J. McBain 69 6 11 -13 17
M. Neuvirth 4 8 2 .921 2.78
J. Enroth 4 17 5 .911 2.82