Session One (7:45-8:45 a.m.)
Matt Hackett has had a few months to get acclimated with the Buffalo Sabres organization and is enjoying his first training camp in Buffalo.
“The on-ice is tough, but I feel like I’m getting better,” Hackett said after practice Friday morning at First Niagara Center. “To work with [Sabres goaltending coach] Jim Corsi and to see Ryan Miller and these guys out here, it’s fun to be a part of.”
He and center Johan Larsson were acquired as part of the trade that sent Jason Pominville to the Minnesota Wild in March. Hackett was drafted in the third round by Minnesota during the 2009 NHL Draft (77th overall) and has played in 13 NHL games over the past two seasons.
After the trade, Hackett appeared in three regular season games for the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League and started Game Two of the team’s first-round playoff series against Toronto. He’s had the chance to work with Amerks goaltending coach Bob Janosz to improve his game.
“Bob Janosz is good to work with. It’s nice to have a goalie coach down there full-time that you can work with and lean on and talk to constantly,” Hackett said. “That’s a big difference than when I was in Houston [of the AHL]. I had no one to talk to really. My goalie coach would come down once a month and it’s just nice to have someone there all the time.”
Hackett is the favorite to start in goal for the Amerks this season, but he has aspirations to play in the NHL as soon as this season.
“I’d like to be here at some point,” he said. “I feel like I’ve proved myself here [in the NHL] for a few games in Minnesota and I feel like I can play at this level. That’s my goal and I’m sure that’s everyone else’s goal here to make the team as well.”
Steve Ott – Mikhail Grigorenko – Ville Leino
Luke Adam – Mike Zigomanis – Joel Armia
John Scott – Matt Ellis – Justin Bailey
Peter Trainor – Jonathan Parker - Johnny McGuire
Scrimmage (9:15-10:30 a.m.)
Team Blue vs. Team GoldAndrey Makarov
Ryan Miller has been excused from practice on Friday by the team. On Thursday, he was inducted into the Michigan State University Athletics Hall of Fame.
Great to be back on campus at MSU today. Very honored to be inducted into the athletic hall of fame along with my cousin Kip. #GoGreen— Ryan Miller (@RyanMiller3039) September 13, 2013
Group One (8:45-9:45 a.m.)
Marcus Foligno had played center at the end of last season, but is back on the wing for now. And back with Cody Hodgson, whom he played on a line with in Rochester during the lockout.
"To be on a line with him, it’s going to be great to get open for him," Foligno said. "Obviously I played with him in Rochester and we put up some points there and had a good time in Rochester, too."
They're joined on the line by Thomas Vanek. Both Folgino and Vanek are more comfortable on the left wing, so Sabres coach Ron Rolston said they'll go through the preseason trying both on the left and right wings in order to find the right combinations, .
"We like [Vanek and Hodgson] together for sure. They were good last year. I think Cody can make plays, really good vision plays and obviously [Vanek's] a good finisher," Rolston said. "Right now we've got Marcus there to provide some heavy hockey hopefully on the wing hopefully if Marcus can come in and continue to play that way, be physical and make some space for those guys."
Thomas Vanek – Cody Hodgson – Marcus Foligno
Zemgus Girgensons – Kevin Porter – Brian Flynn
Kevin Sundher – Colin Jacobs – Shawn Szydlowski
Frederick Roy – Eric Locke – Logan Nelson
Group Two (10-10:45 a.m.)
Ville Leino was limited to eight games last season due to injuries. He missed the final 13 games of the year but has been back skating for about four weeks now. He’s back on the right wing too, which he’s described as his favorite
“Everything is going the way you want it to go at this point,” he said. “Also, I’m really excited to go back out there. It’s a new start. I feel like I didn’t play for a year.”
Center Mikhail Grigorenko spent the summer in Buffalo and hopes the work he’s put in during the offseason pays dividends in his second NHL season. He skated on a line with Steve Ott and Leino on Wednesday and will look to them for guidance.
“For me it’s really good to play with those guys,” Grigorenko said. “They’ve helped me out a lot on the ice and I can learn from the every day. Hopefully [coach Ron Rolston] will like us and we’ll be playing together.”
Steve Ott – Mikhail Grigorenko – Ville Leino
Luke Adam – Mike Zigomanis – Joel Armia
John Scott – Matt Ellis – Justin Bailey
Peter Trainor – Jonathan Parker - Johnny McGuire
Brayden McNabb – Jamie McBain
Alexander Sulzer – Chad Ruhwedel
Alex Lepkowski – Connor Boland
Scrimmage (11:15 a.m.-Noon)
Team Gray vs. Team Gold
Group Three (12:15-1 p.m.)
Many roster spots are up for grabs and Rolston will use training camp as a competition to fill those roles.
Rolston had Cody McCormick centering Corey Tropp and Patrick Kaleta during the third session and that combination could very well serve as the Sabres’ fourth line come opening night on Oct. 2 in Detroit.
Rolston said he’s aware of the different possibilities and will look for fourth liners that are responsible players that can kill penalties too.
“That’s what kind of what we talked about in the competition. We can go a lot of different ways, but we’ll definitely have some guys that can do that – that play with a lot of energy and are physical on the fourth line,” Rolston said.
Tyler Ennis – Johan Larsson – Drew Stafford
Corey Tropp – Cody McCormick – Patrick Kaleta
Daniel Catenacci – Philip Varone – Jamie Tardif
Colton Gillies – Justin Kea – Nicholas Baptiste
It's always fun to go north of the border, especially when you're still in Sabres Country.
These past two days, Buffalo Sabres players, alumni and team employees spent time in Fort Erie, Niagara Falls and St. Catharines to connect with the local community.
Our "Invade Canada" caravan began with a lunch and networking event with business leaders in Fort Erie. The Mayor of Fort Erie Doug Martin joined us as Sabres President Ted Black and President of the HARBORcenter John Koelmel provided an update on the state of the Sabres and HARBORcenter project. Sabres alumni Larry Playfair and Andrew Peters mingled with the crowd.
We continued on to the Niagara Health System's St. Catharines site where we were joined by Sabres forward Cody Hodgson. While it was difficult to see the children needing care, it was heartwarming to see the smiles Cody, the alumni, and Sabretooth brought to their faces.
We traveled to the Gale Centre in Niagara Falls where Sabres forward Marcus Foligno and alumni Rob Ray, Jay McKee and Richie Dunn met with youth hockey teams. Marcus spent time skating with the Niagara Falls Rivermen novice AAA team.
The invasion continued on Tuesday bright and early. Marcus put in a solid shift working the drive-thru at Tim Hortons in Fort Erie.
This is what you may have seen if you were one of those lucky customers. Sabretooth was there too.
The trip concluded with a stop at Garrison Road Public School. Marcus, Sabretooth and Rob Ray met with third graders and read them a book - about hockey, of course.
TRAVERSE CITY, MICH. – Following an overtime win against the New York Rangers prospects on Friday, Buffalo Sabres coach Chadd Cassidy decided to give his team Saturday off.
Buffalo is 2-0 so far in the eight-team NHL Prospects Tournament with five points (each regulation win is worth three points) and currently leads the Ted Lindsay Division.
One point against the Carolina Hurricanes prospects on Sunday would clinch first place for the Sabres and a date in the championship game Monday night against the prospects of the Detroit Red Wings organization. Detroit has already locked up first-place in the Gordie Howe Division.
To prepare for the game against Carolina, Cassidy, the coach of the Rochester Americans who is serving as the bench boss for the Sabres during the tournament, decided to make Saturday a maintenance day, keeping the team off the ice and allowing them to recuperate both mentally and physically.
“As we talked about it [Friday] night as a coaching staff, we’re really impressed with the pace of play and the physical play so far here, but it takes a toll on your team,” Cassidy said Saturday morning. “…Even though they’re young – we see all the energy they have – these game are high-tempo, very physical [and] mentally taxing. So we want them to be prepared.”
The tournament schedule calls for four games in five days. While that may be manageable, the coaching staff also must look ahead to the coming weeks when it comes to planning rest. Sabres training camp opens on Sept. 11 and keeping some of the young players with a chance to play in the NHL this season healthy is also a priority.
“So long-term gains, you have to kind of manage their energy and manage the injuries and just the nagging stuff because we don’t want them to be completely worn down by the time we get to Buffalo,” Cassidy said. “We want these guys – Joel Armia, [Zemgus] Girgensons, [Chad] Ruhwedel, all these kids – [they] need to be able to go there and put their best foot forward to have an opportunity to make that club. It is a balancing act.”
Cassidy also said he has not yet decided on a starting goalie for Sunday. Connor Knapp is the only goaltender to not yet see any game action. Nathan Lieuwen started against the Blue Jackets on Thursday and Andrey Makarov picked up the win against the Rangers on Friday.
As far as any other lineup changes, Cassidy said it depends on how some players are feeling, especially when it comes to those nagging injuries.
The Sabres’ tilt against Carolina on Sunday is set to start at 3:30 p.m. and can be heard live on 1520 AM and at Sabres.com. Full highlights and locker room interviews will also be available at Sabres.com following the game.
As a group of Buffalo Sabres prospects prepare for the 2013 NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, Mich. this week, stay tuned to Sabres.com for the most comprehensive coverage of the eight-team tournament.
During each game, Sabres.com will stream WWKB 1520’s broadcast of the game featuring play-by-play by WGR 550’s Paul Hamilton and analysis by Sabres studio host Brian Duff.
In-game updates will also be posted to the team’s official Twitter account.
After each game, Sabres.com’s Chris Ryndak will have a full recap of the day’s action. Sabres.com will also have video highlights and locker room interviews for fans to watch that night.
Kris Baker of SabresProspects.com will be contributing as well with written analysis of the prospects throughout the tournament. The day after each contest, check Sabres.com for Baker’s thoughts on how eight-10 prospects looked in that game.
A future episode of the award-winning, behind-the-scenes series Beyond Blue & Gold will also focus on the tournament.
Any additional information about the Sabres participation in the tournament can also be found at Sabres.com.
If you plan on making the trip to Traverse City, tickets are available for $10 per day at www.CentreIce.org or at the arena doors prior to each day’s first game. Morning practice sessions are open to the public and free of charge. The tournament consists of four games per day next Thursday, Friday and Saturday, wrapping up with the championship round on Monday, Sept. 9.
The Sabres are playing in the Ted Lindsay Division with the Blue Jackets, Rangers and Hurricanes. The Red Wings, Blues, Stars and Wild are in the Gordie Howe Division.
Thursday, Sept. 5
4 p.m. Buffalo vs. Columbus
Friday, Sept. 6
4 p.m. Buffalo vs. New York
Sunday, Sept. 8
3:30 p.m. Carolina vs. Buffalo
Monday, Sept. 9
3:30 p.m. - 7th Place Game (4th Howe vs. 4th Lindsay)
4 p.m. - 5th Place Game (3rd Howe vs. 3rd Lindsay)
7 p.m. - 3rd Place Game (2nd Howe vs. 2nd Lindsay)
7:30 p.m. - Championship (1st Howe vs. 1st Lindsay)
The IIHF’s 2013 Junior Club World Cup is currently taking place in Omsk, Russia and in the early goings of the tournament, one Buffalo Sabres prospect finds himself among the tournament’s scoring leaders.
Right wing Nicholas Baptiste, a third-round pick of the Sabres in the 2013 NHL Draft (69th overall), had an impressive showing for the Ontario Hockey League’s Sudbury Wolves in their game against Finland’s representative, HPK. While Sudbury lost 4-3, Baptiste had a hand in every Wolves goal, finishing with a goal and two assists. The Wolves are representing Canada in the tournament.
Sudbury previously lost to Dynamo Shinnik of Belarus 5-1 on Sunday.
Baptiste and the Wolves now face a must-win situation against Sweden’s Frolunda Indians on Wednesday. A victory would help get them into a tie-breaking situation to enter the medal rounds. Sudbury won the tournament in 2012.
The Dubuque Fighting Saints, the former USHL team of Sabres prospect Zemgus Girgensons, are also in the tournament, representing the United States.
The tournament is scheduled to run through Saturday.
We couldn't retweet them all, so here are some of the best responses:
The subject of trade rumors and speculation since April, Thomas Vanek says he hasn’t been fazed by all the chatter. Speaking today with ABC affiliate KTSP in Minneapolis, the veteran winger said he expects to be a member of the Buffalo Sabres when camp opens in September.
“As of right now, yeah. I haven’t heard anything differently. I’m preparing myself like I’m going back to Buffalo, so that’s what I’m doing.
“I’m not flattered by (trade speculation) by any means. I’ve enjoyed my time in Buffalo and I’m looking forward to going back. In this business you can’t look into that stuff, read the internet or look at the papers too much. If something happens, I’m sure my agent or the GM in Buffalo will call me and tell me where I’m going.”
The 29-year-old Vanek is entering the final season of a seven-year contract that will pay him $6.4 million (with a cap hit of $7.14 million) in 2013-14. Despite playing in just 38 of Buffalo’s 48-game lockout-shortened schedule in 2013, Vanek’s 20 goals marked his eighth consecutive season of 20 or more goals.
With the trades of Jason Pominville, Jordan Leopold and Robyn Regehr at the deadline, coupled with GM Darcy Regier’s comments that the Sabres were going to have a younger core group moving forward, many assumed that Vanek would be the next domino to fall. But as training camp approaches, Vanek knows that may not be the case.
“We’re rebuilding, and I’m hoping we have the right pieces to accomplish something. I’m not saying I’m old. At 29, I’ve still got many years left,” Vanek explained. “But at the same time, you like to be on a team where you feel like going into camp you’re contending. You’re not guaranteed to win a Cup, but right now in Buffalo I think we’re rebuilding which is not the best case scenario for me. But at the same time, there’s a lot of good young players and hopefully we pick the right ones.”
The NHL and the NHLPA reached an agreement last week with the International Ice Hockey Federation and the International Olympic Committee that would allow NHL players to participate in the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
Over the next few days, organizers from each national team will be announcing their orientation camp rosters. Team Canada and Team Russia and Team USA gave us theirs on Monday.
Ryan Miller has been invited to attend Team USA's camp at the end of August.
A few other members of the Buffalo Sabres organization have represented their countries in international play since reaching the NHL. Here are some connections between current Sabres and the national teams that qualified for the 2014 Olympic Games.
Miller received Most Valuable Player honors at the 2010 Winter Olympics and Team USA won the silver medal thanks to his strong play. He’s also appeared in the IIHF World Championship in 2002 and 2003.
Coach Ron Rolston was very involved with USA Hockey’s National Development Program before joining the Sabres and Rochester Americans. He spent seven seasons as the program’s head coach where he led the U.S. Under-18 team to three gold medals and a silver medal in four stints at the IIHF World Under-18 Championship. Rolston also served as head coach for the U.S. National Junior Team in both 2007 and 2009.
New assistant coach Joe Sacco served as head coach for the 2013 World Championship team and guided them to a silver medal-performance. Sacco has also worked with Team USA as both a player and a coach. He played in the 1992 Olympic Games in France and coached Team USA at both the 2009 and 2010 World Championship.
Jamie McBain played for Sacco at the World Championship in Sweden this spring. He’s a product of the U.S. development program.
Russia, Slovenia and Slovakia are also in Group A.
Thomas Vanek has represented Austria in the past, and as the most prolific hockey player from the country, it’s likely he’ll be headed to Sochi. He played for Team Austria in May for the World Championship, where he scored six points in seven games (4+2). He was also a member of the team back in 2004.
No Sabres were invited to Team Canada’s orientation for the games in Sochi.
After retiring as a player in 2009, assistant coach Teppo Numminen spent time as a scout with the Finnish National Team. He participated in four Olympic Games as a player, winning two silver medals (1988 and 2006) and a bronze (1998).
Norway is also in Group B.
Zemgus Girgensons played for Latvia at the 2013 World Championship in May, as well as the 2011 and 2012 World Junior Championship. When Buffalo selected him in the first round of the 2012 NHL Draft (No. 14), he became the highest drafted Latvian ever.
Enroth backstopped his national team to the gold medal at the 2013 World Championship. He’s a candidate to back up Henrik Lundqvist in Sochi.
Tallinder played for Team Sweden in the Olympics in Vancouver.
The Czech Republic and Switzerland are also in Group C.
The schedule for the 2013-14 NHL regular season is out and that means Buffalo Sabres fans are going to be busy filling in dates on their calendars over the next few days. Or hours.
Realignment kicks in this upcoming season, meaning that the Sabres will see some new faces in the division. In addition to the Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs, the Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning will be joining the party. And you can officially call it the Atlantic Division.
CHECK OUT THE FULL SCHEDULE HERE
The Sabres will play each divisional opponent at least four times each and the other teams within the conference three times each. They will play each team in the other conference once at home and once on the road.
Keep in mind that the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Winnipeg Jets have swapped conferences, so there will be one more game against ’Lumbus. The Blue Jackets join the Carolina Hurricanes, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals in the newly formed Metropolitan Division.
But that’s only 80 games. To make up those extra two, Buffalo has five games scheduled against both the Maple Leafs (two at home, three in Toronto) and the Bruins (three at home, two in Boston). Next year, the Sabres will play two different teams in the division an extra time.
BREAKDOWN BY MONTH
October: 15 games
November: 13 games
December: 12 games
January: 14 games
February: 6 games
March: 14 games
April: 8 games
BREAKDOWN BY DAY
Monday: 6 games
Tuesday: 17 games
Wednesday: 6 games
Thursday: 19 games
Friday: 9 games
Saturday: 17 games
Sunday: 8 games
Sets of Back-to-Back Games: 13 (Franchise-Low)
Longest Home Stand: 3 games (Five times)
Longest Stretch of Consecutive Road Games: 5 games (March 18-27)
Wednesday, Oct. 2 at Detroit – Season opener against a new division rival
Friday, Oct. 4 vs. Ottawa – Home opener
Monday, Oct. 14 vs. Minnesota – Former Sabres captain Jason Pominville will be back in town
Monday, Oct. 28 vs. Dallas – A return for another former Sabre, this time Lindy Ruff
Tuesday, Nov. 5-Friday, Nov. 8 – A three-game West Coast swing against the Sharks (Nov. 5), Kings (Nov. 7) and Ducks (Nov. 8)
Friday, Nov. 15-Saturday, Nov. 16 – A home-and-home against the Leafs, starting in Buffalo on Friday
Tuesday, Dec. 10-Thursday, Dec. 12: Two games in three nights against Ottawa, starting Tuesday in Buffalo
Thursday, Dec. 19-Saturday, Dec. 21 – Two games in three nights against the Bruins, starting Thursday in Buffalo
Tuesday, Dec. 31 at Winnipeg: New Year’s Eve game on the road against the Jets
Tuesday, Jan. 14 vs. Philadelphia – The Flyers make their first trip of the season to First Niagara Center
Thursday, Feb. 6 at Ottawa – Last game before Olympic break
Wednesday, Feb. 26 vs. Boston – First game back after Olympic break
Sunday, March 9 vs. Chicago – The Sabres host Pat Kane and the defending Stanley Cup champions
Tuesday, March 18-Thursday, March 27 – Five consecutive road games (at Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Montreal and Nashville)
Sunday, April 13 vs. New York Islanders – Regular season finale
Any other games Sabres fans should be excited about?