James O'Brien

Robin Lehner, William Karlsson, Oliver Bjorkstrand

Regular season form: Sabres fans got sarcastic with Lehner


The nice thing about the Buffalo Sabres’ busy off-season is that the pressure is spread around pretty fairly … except maybe for Robin Lehner.

Big development gains can happen, of course, but the Sabres’ defense looks pretty shaky on paper.

Maybe they won’t be “historically inept” like last season, yet the smart money is on Lehner getting tested early and often. He’ll need to steel his nerves to the challenge.

Apparently he may also have to learn to shake off the abrasiveness of fans  during tougher nights.

Lehner had a tough night on Friday, to the point that fans reacted with mock praise of a save, aka “the Bronx cheer.”

To his credit, Lehner admitted that it wasn’t a strong performance, as he gave up five goals through two periods before Buffalo made the score more respectable.

(Columbus beat the Sabres 6-4 by ending with an empty-netter.)

If any management group believes in Lehner, it’s GM Tim Murray, who watched the netminder during his assistant general manager days in Ottawa.

That doesn’t mean that Sabres fans will give him the same welcome.

Devils give Kennedy the ax from PTO

Tyler Kennedy, Michael Ferland

Ray Shero’s familiarity with Tyler Kennedy from their Pittsburgh Penguins days only went so far, as the New Jersey Devils released him from his PTO on Friday.

Kennedy was with the Penguins from 2007-08 to 2012-13, yet he’s starting to become something of a journeyman.

(Although he probably feels more like a pinball.)

During his time in Pittsburgh, he sporadically put up nice possession stats, though one wonders how much that had to do with Jordan Staal.

It could be that he’s struggling to find a niche, as he might not be adept enough at any one facet of the game to really make himself marketable. His agent will once again have his work cut out for him.

At 29, one would think he’d get a shot somewhere, although Kennedy might have to accept more reps in the AHL than he would prefer.

Report: Voynov – KHL bound?

Slava Voynov

Slava Voynov might play professional hockey in 2015-16, just not in the NHL.

The self-departed former Los Angeles Kings defenseman is planning on playing for SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL, according to Sports Express’ Igor Eronko plus the Associated Press and ESPN.

Voynov announced his decision to leave the Kings for Russia back on Sept. 16, prompting the Kings to claim that he essentially would not have been welcomed back.

He served some jail time for domestic violence-related charges and was temporarily detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs.

His KHL rights belong to Traktor Chelyabinsk, but they will reportedly be transferred to SKA St. Petersburg. Every indication is that the Kings still hold his NHL rights, for whatever that may be worth.

Hey, Brian McGrattan’s still kicking/punching around

Brian McGrattan

Enforcers seem to be going the way of the dodo, but one hopes to become a Gull.

The San Diego Gulls added Brian McGrattan to their training camp roster on Friday, reminding us that he’s still attempting to maintain a hockey career.

It’s also an excuse to post this photo, which really must be shared in its full splendor:

Brian McGrattan
via AP

The Gulls are the Anaheim Ducks’ AHL affiliate, so McGrattan is likely hoping he can make enough of an impression to get the occasional call-up for dust-ups.

On second thought: Coyotes give Potter two-way deal

Corey Potter

We’re at that point during training camp in which teams must make decisions about borderline players (and vice versa).

For fringe guys, that sometimes means signing less-than-ideal contracts after being “cut.”

That seems to be the case for Corey Potter, as he accepted a one-year, two-way deal from the Arizona Coyotes not long after being released from a PTO.

As the main image shows, Potter’s been around, bouncing between several teams after first cracking the New York Rangers’ lineup in 2008-09.

He’s headed to the AHL, but with solid-enough experience, Potter could slip into the Coyotes’ mix if injuries strike.

If nothing else, his name provides a golden opportunity for bad jokes.