Sabres’ Ott: Playoffs are ‘in our grasp’


Over at the Buffalo News, John Vogl has penned a rather interesting piece about Steve Ott’s emergence following the firing of Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff.

The piece highlights a lot of things — Ott taking the heat off captain Jason Pominville by intercepting a TV crew, Ott’s increased minutes under Ron Rolston, Ott’s faceoff prowess — but it’s one thing in particular that stands out:

Ott’s belief in his team’s playoff chances.

“Our last game of the year, that will be the judge,” he said. “If we’re a playoff team, that’s my expectations of this team. That hasn’t changed.

“We’ve got some work cut out ahead of us, but by all means it’s in our grasp.”

/record scratch

With just 11 wins in 30 games, the Sabres currently sit 13th overall in the Eastern Conference. They’re six points back of eighth place, with four teams between them and the final playoff spot.

According to Sports Club Stats, the Sabres have a 1.8 percent chance of making the postseason. That’s the second-lowest percentage in the league, ahead of only Florida (who, at 0.0 percent, can probably start booking tee times.)

Obviously, Ott has to say all the right things publicly. He can’t very well admit he and the Sabres have acknowledged and/or accepted this season is done, what with 11 home games left on the schedule.

And to be fair, it’s not like the Sabres haven’t nearly risen from the dead before.

Last season, the Sabres were sitting 14th in the East on Feb. 19 with a 25-27-7 record, only to mount a furious rally (they went 14-2-3 from Feb. 19-Mar. 27), finishing just three points back of Ottawa for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.

Ott figures this year’s Sabres can do the same, with the Ruff-for-Rolston switch being the catalyst.

“Since the changes have occurred, I think we’ve continued to get better,” he explained. “By the end of all this stuff, if we continue to grow and continue to get better, I like the success of this team.”

Kings grab goalie insurance by signing Budaj

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: Jhonas Enroth #1 and Peter Budaj #31 of the Los Angeles Kings stretch before a game against the Arizona Coyotes at STAPLES Center on September 22, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images)
via Los Angeles Kings
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In slightly less interesting Los Angeles Kings news than the latest in the Mike Richards fiasco, the team handed Peter Budaj a one-year, two-way deal on Friday.

The veteran goalie’s contract pays $575K on the NHL level and $100K in the AHL (though it’s $150K guaranteed), according to Hockey’s Cap.

At the moment, it sounds like Budaj will be third on the Kings’ goalie depth chart. That says as much about how things have been going lately for Los Angeles than Budaj’s work on a PTO.

As noted above, one of the more significant moves in Budaj’s favor came when the New York Islanders claimed Jean-Francois Berube off of waivers this week.

The Kings actually waived Budaj before signing him, so this has to be a relief to a goalie with a fairly robust resume as a backup.

All apologies to Budaj, but it’s probably true that the Kings would prefer not to see him at the NHL level very often in 2015-16.

Kings, NHLPA announce settlement in Richards grievance

Los Angeles Kings v New York Rangers

The Los Angeles Kings announced today that they have “reached an agreement with Mike Richards to resolve the grievance filed in relation to the termination of his NHL Standard Players Contract. The terms are agreeable to all parties.”

The club said that it will not be commenting further “on the terms” of the settlement.

The NHLPA released a similar statement.

It was reported earlier in the week that a settlement was close to being reached; however, it wasn’t clear what salary-cap penalties the Kings would incur.

We’re starting to find out some details now:

How the final numbers differ from what the Kings would have incurred if they’d bought Richards out will be interesting to see. And if there are differences, how will they be justified?

Stay tuned.