Tag: Buffalo Sabres

Connor McDavid

Success for McDavid isn’t purely a numbers game


A lot of people have a number they think Connor McDavid will reach during his rookie campaign, but he doesn’t want to go down that road.

“It’s something I don’t really know how to answer,” he admitted when asked by NHL.com what it would take for him to personally consider his rookie campaign a success. “I just have to do the best that I can do. There are no real numbers that I have in my mind. I just want to have as good a year as possible.”

Part of the reason McDavid doesn’t have a specific number in mind is because he thinks imposing those types of goals “can really mess with you.” Beyond that though, he wants to judge himself on more than just how many goals he scores or points he collects.

“Numbers are one thing, but some of the best games I have ever played have been games in which I didn’t get a point or maybe had one point,” McDavid said. “You don’t necessarily have to put up a lot of points to be impactful. There are lots of ways you can impact a game, and that is something I take a lot of pride in, trying to impact the game in any way possible.”

While everything he does with or without the puck is worthy of note, it of course won’t change the fact that the numbers he puts up will influence how other people view his campaign. In some cases the benchmarks people are looking for might be unfair given his age and level of experience, but his billing as a generational talent combined with his stellar work in the OHL have led to that scenario. On top of that, he’ll be compared against Jack Eichel, who will be under similar scrutiny during his first season in Buffalo.

None of that information is likely news to McDavid, who has had to live with the hype surrounding him for quite some time now. He’s aware that the attention he gets is only going to grow as he starts his rookie campaign, but he’s confident in his abilities.

“More anxious to get things going,” he added when asked if he’s nervous about training camp. “I have been talking about it for so long and I have been waiting so long to get going, I don’t think nervous is the right word. Just anxious.”

Looking to make the leap: Mirco Mueller

Vancouver Canucks v San Jose Sharks

Like most things in San Jose last year, Mirco Mueller’s progression didn’t go exactly to plan.

Mueller, the 20-year-old blueliner San Jose took 18th overall in 2013, started out the year in the NHL as part of GM Doug Wilson’s “tomorrow team” movement, only to see his ice time dwindle by early December.

From there, he was loaned to Team Switzerland for the World Juniors and, upon returning, was shuffled back and forth between San Jose and the club’s AHL affiliate in Worcester, before a thumb injury in late March ended his year.

All told, Mueller appeared in just 39 games for the Sharks, three for Worcester and six for Switzerland — not a ton of hockey for a youngster that needs all the reps he can get.

Which begs the question — where will he get them this year?

On paper, Mueller appears to be part of the club’s six-man defensive unit, along with Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Justin Braun, Brenden Dillon and newly acquired Paul Martin. But the Swiss rearguard will have some pretty heady competition for that spot, particularly in the form of Matt Tennyson, who appeared in a career-high 27 games last year, and Dylan DeMelo,  a 22-year-old prospect who, according to AHL bench boss Roy Sommer, is ready to make the leap himself.

Speaking of the American League, it could end up being the place where Mueller starts this season.

There were worries San Jose rushed him to the NHL last year and it’s important to remember that, of all the d-men taken in the first round in ’13, only Seth Jones and Rasmus Ristolainen have emerged as regulars; some have argued that Nikita Zadorov, taken two spots ahead of Mueller, was also rushed to the NHL (and has since been traded to Colorado).

What’s more, the likes of Philly’s Samuel Morin (No. 11), Winnipeg’s Josh Morrissey (No. 13) and the Islanders’ Ryan Pulock (No. 15) have yet to even make their big-league debuts.

Mueller knows that, based on his age and number of players looking to stick with the Sharks, this fall’s training camp will go a long way in deciding his fate.

And he knows the challenge will be difficult.

 “It’s always competitive,” he said, per the San Jose Mercury News. “A lot of jobs are on the line.”

Sabres reach their season tickets cap with 96 percent renewal rate

Jack Eichel

The Buffalo Sabres’ last two seasons have been among the worst in franchise history, but with optimism about their future high, it hasn’t been difficult to convince fans to come back for more.

In total 16,000 season tickets for the 2015-16 campaign have been sold by the Sabres, which is where they’ve set the limit so that there will still be seats available for individual games as well as mini-packs. Of those season ticket holders, 96 percent of them are fans that decided to renew their commitment following Buffalo’s 23-51-8 campaign. Not that the Sabres necessarily needed the renewal rate to be that high as they still have 2,000 people on their waiting list.

“The fact that we had such a high rate of renewal from our season ticket holders is really a testament to the direction our organization is headed,” Sabres president Russ Brandon said, per the team’s website. “There’s a tremendous amount of excitement surrounding our team and we can’t wait to get on the ice.”

Of course, selecting Jack Eichel with the second overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft is one of the main reasons fans are encouraged about Buffalo’s future. He is seen as a potential generational talent that should be the centerpiece of the Sabres for years to come.

Related: What does Jack Eichel mean to the Buffalo Sabres?

Kings ink Ehrhoff to a one-year, $1.5 million deal

PA: Minnesota Wild v Pittsburgh Penguins

Christian Ehrhoff is headed to Los Angeles.

GM Dean Lombardi confirmed to Rich Hammond of The Orange County Register that the Kings have inked the unrestricted free agent blue liner to a one-year, $1.5 million deal.

Last month Ehrhoff’s agent, Rick Curran, told PHT that his client “doesn’t mind having the flexibility of a single year commitment. He’s confident in his ability to provide a valued role to the right team. If there’s a mutual fit, an extension will likely follow.”

As a result of multiple concussions, the 33-year-old appeared in just 49 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins last season scoring three goals and 11 assists while averaging 21:46 in time on ice.

Ehrhoff joined the Penguins on a one-year, $4 million deal after being bought out by the Buffalo Sabres following the 2013-14 season.

It’s Winnipeg Jets day at PHT

Anaheim Ducks v Winnipeg Jets - Game Three

Using the term “close sweep” might start a brawl at the wrong Winnipeg bar, yet it feels like a reasonable depiction of the Jets’ first-round exit.

Whether you agree or disagree about their margin of defeat against the Anaheim Ducks, the bottom line is that if you trace the Jets’ history back to the Thrashers era, the franchise remains at zero playoff wins all-time.

Yes, as in they haven’t ever won a playoff game not a series.

Despite that doom and gloom, Jets were a popular dark horse candidate heading into the 2015 postseason for a reason. They were an impressive possession team by most metrics.

Winnipeg combined an increasingly deep defense corps with its underrated high-end forwards to scare at least a few Western Conference observers. Hey, they even occasionally received competent goaltending, albeit from an uneven mix of Michael Hutchinson and Ondrej Pavelec.

(There was some poetic justice in Pavelec playing out of his mind down the stretch to get them into the playoffs.)

It all feels empty thanks to the sweep, but the Jets zoomed up a level or two in 2014-15. As wild card berths go, Winnipeg can point to some positives.

Off-season recap

The biggest change technically happened during the season, yet the Evander Kane swap is significant enough to at least get a quick mention.

It’s relevant enough to the summer anyway, as Drew Stafford played well enough to gain a two-year deal that carries a $4.35 million cap hit. Stafford is sticking around, while a surprise return is in store for Alex Burmistrov, who went on a two-year KHL sojourn.

Michael Frolik headlines a group of departing players who helped move the needle a bit depth-wise, also including Lee Stempniak, Jiri Tlusty and T.J. Galiardi.

Maybe the most significant off-season storyline is what Winnipeg did not do: Dustin Byfuglien and captain Andrew Ladd are currently entering the final season of their respective contracts.