Statistically speaking, the last two seasons have been among the worst in Buffalo’s history, but Sabres owner Terry Pegula sees great value in those painful years. In fact, he would list them as “two of the most successful seasons we’ve ever had,” per the Associated Press.
Obviously, those losing records allowed the Sabres to draft second overall in back-to-back years (having lost the draft lottery both times). They used those picks to select Sam Reinhart and Jack Eichel, but general manager Tim Murray was also able to get plenty of other pieces for the rebuild over that span. He also acquired the likes of Evander Kane, Ryan O’Reilly, and Robin Lehner in trades while moving other players like Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek to get future assets, including first round picks.
A couple rough seasons in the service of a long-term goal can make sense, but the success of the Sabres’ rebuilding effort will be measured by how they do going forward. They don’t have to look any further than the Edmonton Oilers to know how hard it can be to transition from a rebuilding phase to a competitive one. Having a generational talent like Eichel on the roster certainly helps, but he and the Sabres have a lot to prove.
Given that, we can’t call the last two seasons successful for Buffalo in terms of on-ice accomplishments, we’ll have to let history judge if the off-ice moves are as beneficial as Sabres fans hope.
Related: Gionta: Sabres’ offseason ‘excites guys in the locker room’
Alex Galchenyuk has a lot of potential and over the course of his next deal, he’ll have a chance to prove that he’s worth a much bigger contract.
The Montreal Canadiens announced tonight that they have signed Galchenyuk to a two-year bridge deal.
The team didn’t disclose the terms of the contract, but it’s worth $5.6 million, according to Pierre LeBrun. Galchenyuk was a restricted free agent after completing his entry-level contract.
The 21-year-old forward was taken with the third overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft after was able to make the leap to the NHL in 2013 following the lockout. Since then his responsibilities with Montreal have steadily grown to the point where he logged 16:35 minutes of ice time per game last season, including an average of 2:26 minutes with the man advantage. He finished the 2014-15 campaign with a career-high 20 goals and 46 points in 80 contests.
He also has four goals and 10 points in 22 career playoff games.
Oliver Kylington has been given the green light to play in North America by Sweden’s AIK, who he was under contract with, according to the team’s website.
Kylington was listed as the top European skater by NHL Central Scouting’s midterm rankings for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, but he slipped to sixth in the final report. In the end, the Calgary Flames were able to select him with the 60th overall pick.
The two-way defenseman had four goals and seven points in 17 contests with AIK last season and another two goals and five points in 18 Swedish League games with Farjestads BK Karlstad.
Now that he’s allowed to head to North America, the Flames and Kylington will have a couple options available to them. The WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings are the junior team that holds his rights, but he would also be allowed to play for AHL Stockton if Calgary feels that’s in his best interests.
After two strong seasons, Jakub Voracek firmly established himself as a top-tier forward in 2014-15 and now he’s going to get paid like one.
The Philadelphia Flyers have inked Voracek to an eight-year, $66 million contract extension, per the Philadelphia Daily News’ Frank Seravalli. He still has a season left on his four-year, $17 million deal, so that means he’ll carry a $8.25 million annual cap hit starting in 2016-17 and through the 2023-24 campaign.
The 25-year-old forward (26 on Aug. 15), had 22 goals and a career-high 81 points in 82 games last season. That’s after he recorded 108 points in 130 contests over his previous two campaigns.
He was originally acquired in 2011 from the Columbus Blue Jackets as part of the Jeff Carter trade. Philadelphia also got the 2011 eighth overall selection in that deal, which the Flyers used on Sean Couturier. The two forwards now seem set to stick with each other for a long time as Couturier signed a six-year, $26 million deal just a few days ago.
In addition to those two, Philadelphia also has Claude Giroux inked through the 2021-22 campaign at roughly $8.3 million annually. It seems safe to say that the Flyers hope those three will serve as the team’s core for years to come.
After going unclaimed on unconditional waivers, Dainius Zubrus is no longer a member of the New Jersey Devils and that reality has caught him off guard.
He would have been better prepared for this had it happened during the normal buyout window in June, but at this point he didn’t see it coming. The 37-year-old is hoping that another team will give him a chance to extend his career though.
“At this point, it’s the NHL or nothing. I’m training for the NHL,” Zubrus told NJ Advance Media. “Honestly, I still dream of winning the Stanley Cup. That dream is still there. When summertime training gets tough, I push myself hoping that it will happen.
“I hope to be on a team that makes a good run and gives me a chance.”
He had a chance to talk to Devils GM Ray Shero and understands that this was about clearing up a roster spot. At the same time, Zubrus is aware that he had a “terrible year stats-wise.” He finished with just four goals and 10 points in 74 contests in 2014-15.
He is a veteran of 1,243 games and went to the Stanley Cup Final with Philadelphia in 1997 and New Jersey in 2012, losing both times.