Jason Brough

New Jersey Devils center Jacob Josefson (16) takes the puck away from Buffalo Sabres center Cal O'Reilly (19) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday Dec. 15, 2015 in Buffalo, N.Y.  New Jersey won 2-0. (AP Photo/Gary Wiepert)

Sabres call up Cal O’Reilly after brother Ryan injured

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) With top-line forward Ryan O'Reilly out, the Buffalo Sabres have recalled his older brother from the AHL.

Cal O’Reilly was promoted from Rochester on Monday. The move comes a day after coach Dan Bylsma announced Ryan O’Reilly would miss between three and four weeks with a lower-body injury.

Bylsma did not reveal any details of the injury. O’Reilly was hurt in a 4-0 win at Columbus on Friday.

The Sabres signed Cal O’Reilly in free agency last summer shortly after acquiring his brother in a multi-player trade with Colorado.

O’Reilly has six goals and 22 assists in 44 games with Rochester. He also has an assist in five games with the Sabres during a previous call up.

Buffalo opens a three-game California road trip at Anaheim on Wednesday.

The Leafs are piling up the draft picks, just like they promised they’d do

Toronto Maple Leafs President Brendan Shanahan, left,  and Lou Lamoriello smile at a news conference to announce Lamoriello has been named the new general manager of the Maple Leafs NHL hockey team in Toronto, Thursday, July 23, 2015. (Galit Rodan/The Canadian Press via AP)

The more bullets, the better.

That, in a nutshell, is the Toronto Maple Leafs’ draft strategy under the new regime led by Brendan Shanahan.

In today’s trade with the Sharks, the Leafs added a couple of more second-round picks to their stockpile, these ones in 2017 and 2018.

“I think the picks are the most important thing that we’ve got in these transactions,” GM Lou Lamoriello told reporters in a conference call.

The Leafs had already piled up twelve picks for the 2016 draft, as per General Fanager:


The strategy is a stark departure from the years when Brian Burke was in charge. Back then, the mantra was “July 1 will be our draft” — a philosophy that, for a number of reasons, didn’t work out so well.

Consistent with their embracing of analytics, the Leafs under the new regime have made the draft as much about playing the percentages as talent evaluation. I.e., if a second-rounder has a 20 percent chance of panning out, then two second-rounders make it 40 percent they get themselves a player. (Or whatever the exact probability, it’s higher.)

Though the Leafs are still a long ways from competing for the Stanley Cup — in fact, their current roster is arguably the worst in the NHL — management is steadfastly executing its long-term plan, which includes “pain” now for, hopefully, gain later.

Toronto already has a well-regarded group of prospects, led by Mitch Marner and William Nylander.

Lamoriello also noted that the Leafs, in the future, could trade some of their picks for players.

Related: Trade target: P.A. Parenteau

Report: Vrbata’s injury not serious

Vancouver Canucks right wing Radim Vrbata (17), of the Czech Republic, shoots the winning goal past New York Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak (41), of the Czech Republic, in a shootout in the Canucks 2-1 victory over the New York Islanders in an NHL hockey game in New York, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Radim Vrbata‘s injury, suffered last night against Colorado, is not believed to be serious, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

The 34-year-old winger left the game after taking an awkward fall in the third period of Vancouver’s 5-1 win. Earlier in the contest, he’d scored his 12th goal of the season (and his first since Jan. 14.)

A pending unrestricted free agent, the Canucks are expected to explore trading Vrbata prior to Monday’s deadline. There have reportedly been scouts from the Chicago Blackhawks taking a look at him.

Related: Coach Q thinks the ‘Hawks could use another forward or two

Kovalchuk ‘removed’ from KHL team after first game of the playoffs

FILE - In this May 13, 2013 file photo, Russia's Ilya Kovalchuk celebrates his goal during the 2013 Ice Hockey World Championships match against Austria in Helsinki. Kovalchuk left the New Jersey Devils and retired from the NHL, leaving $77 million on the table last summer to go back home and play in Russia. In a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014, Kovalchuk said he has no regrets and looks forward to helping the host country win gold next month at the Sochi Games.  (AP Photo/Lehtikuva, Jussi Nukari)  FINLAND OUT

Former NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk has been “removed from the squad and sent back to Saint Petersburg to train individually,” according to his KHL team, SKA Saint Petersburg.

No specific reason was given for Kovalchuk’s removal, other than to say it was a “coach’s decision.” SKA’s head coach is another former NHL star, Sergei Zubov.

SKA has played one game of the Gagarin Cup playoffs, losing 3-2 in overtime to Lokomotiv. Kovalchuk, the captain, logged 24:26 of ice time in that contest and was a minus-2.

As you can see below, he was checked off the puck prior to the game-tying goal:

Kovalchuk has been in the KHL for the past three seasons. He has 16 goals and 33 assists in 51 games this season. His 49 points are the second most on his team.

The 32-year-old has one year remaining on his contract with SKA.

Related: ‘We’ll see’ about NHL return, says Kovalchuk

Drew Doughty played 35:16 last night, and that’s quite a lot of ice time

NEWARK, NJ - FEBRUARY 14:  Drew Doughty #8 of the Los Angeles Kings in action against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on February 14, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Kings 1-0.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
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Back in September, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that the Kings were hoping to cut Drew Doughty‘s ice time to around 25 minutes per game, down from the 29:00 he averaged last season.

We only mention this because Doughty logged a career-high 35:16 in last night’s overtime loss to St. Louis. He’d logged 31:29 Tuesday in Washington, and that game ended in regulation. On the season, he’s averaging 28:13, the third most in the NHL behind Erik Karlsson (29:05) and Ryan Suter (28:49).

In a related story, the Kings may look to add a defenseman prior to the Feb. 29 trade deadline. They were reportedly very interested in Dustin Byfuglien, before he re-signed with the Jets.

From ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun:

Other possibilities now? Perhaps Dan Hamhuis, if he’s willing to waive his no-trade. Or Roman Polak? Time will tell but more likely than not, I think the Kings will have to settle for more of a third pairing add-on or maybe even do nothing at all.

Head coach Darryl Sutter obviously has faith in three of his blue-liners: Doughty, Alec Martinez and Jake Muzzin. But is he comfortable with Luke Schenn as his fourth? Remember that Christian Ehrhoff isn’t with the team anymore, and he was supposed to help alleviate the loss of Slava Voynov. Against the Blues, Sutter gave d-man Brayden McNabb just 10:07 and Jamie McBain even less, 7:52.

Now, granted, the Kings paid a hefty price to get Andrej Sekera last year, and that blew up in their faces.

This year, instead of giving up assets for a rental, they may decide that giving their best defenseman all that ice time isn’t such a bad thing.

Hey, it worked for Duncan Keith and the Blackhawks.

Related: Doughty has gotten used to logging nearly 30 minutes per game