Buffalo Sabres

Stewart to open with Vanek, Koivu in Minnesota


Upon acquiring Chris Stewart from Buffalo yesterday, Wild GM Chuck Fletcher said the 27-year-old power forward would be able to play up and down the Minnesota lineup.

To start, though, he’ll be near the top.

Stewart will open on a line with Thomas Vanek and Mikko Koivu, head coach Mike Yeo told KFAN radio on Tuesday. The Zach Parise-Mikael Granlund-Jason Pominville line will remain intact, meaning the club’s other new forward — Sean Bergenheim — will play with Nino Niederreiter and Charlie Coyle (Bergenheim had debuted on the Koivu-Vanek line.)

It’ll be interesting to see how Stewart fits with his new running mates. It’s clear by both his and Fletcher’s comments that the goal is to provide a physical element and more size; it’s also likely Stewart will be a net-front presence and feed off the offense generated by Vanek (who has nine points in his last 11 games) and Koivu (12 in his last 14.)

“Adding my size and my physicality to that lineup, I think that’s something they’re looking for,” Stewart said, per the Star-Tribune. “I’m a big guy, a power forward, I have some pretty good speed and I like to play a hard-nosed game and get in the corners there and on the forecheck and create turnovers.

“It’s going to be a great challenge. I look forward to it.”

Filling the void: Sabres recall Grigorenko


Mikhail Grigorenko is back on his way to the bigs.

The Russian forward, Buffalo’s first-round pick (12th overall) at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, has been recalled to the Sabres from AHL Rochester, the club announced on Tuesday.

Also headed up from the Amerks are forwards Tim Schaller and Jerry D’Amigo.

The trio has been brought up to replace Brian Flynn, Torrey Mitchell and Chris Stewart, all three of whom were traded at Monday’s deadline. Between those departures and the injuries to Josh Gorges, Zemgus Girgensons and Patrick Kaleta (Evander Kane too, lest we forget), Buffalo will be icing a forward group that projects to look like this:

Matt Moulson-Tyler Ennis-Brian Gionta

Marcus Foligno-Mikhail Grigorenko-Cody Hodgson

Johan Larsson-Phil Varone-Zac Dalpe

Nicolas Deslauriers-Schaller-Matt Ellis

D’Amigo would be the 13th forward, presumably.

As for Grigorenko, most eyes will likely be on him as he gets another stint with the parent club. He’s been good in Rochester this year, scoring 31 points in 38 games, but only had one goal and one assist in 12 games with the Sabres earlier this year. His last NHL game came on Jan. 9.

NHL on NBCSN: Lightning kick off homestand against Sabres


NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Tampa Bay Lightning host the Buffalo Sabres at the Amalie Arena at 7:30 p.m. ET tonight. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

The trade deadline has past and with it, every player knows where they stand for the rest of the season. The Lightning got a significant reinforcement on Monday in former Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn and with that settled they’ll have to look to each other in their final push before the playoffs.

Tampa Bay’s first step to that end will be to try and sweep this three-game homestand against Buffalo, Toronto, and Dallas. Those are squads that are out of the playoff picture and consequently the Lightning should be able to take these games. If they successfully secure those six points then they’ll be in a strong position against the Atlantic Division-leading Montreal Canadiens when they meet on March 10.

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It’s not a foregone conclusion that the Lightning will run the table though. After all, they’ve been merely treading water since the start of February with a 6-5-2 record. They’re also still missing defenseman Matt Carle, who hasn’t played since Jan. 15 due to an abdominal injury.

Additionally, while the Buffalo Sabres look terrible on paper — especially after trading away Brian Flynn, Chris Stewart, Torrey Mitchell, and Michal Neuvirth on Monday — they might not be the pushovers some are expecting. Buffalo as a team doesn’t have much left to play for in 2014-15 and from a long-term perspective, it probably would be best for the franchise if the squad remained in 30th place to secure either Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel in the 2015 draft. However, on an individual level they have plenty of motivated players.

Take goaltenders Chad Johnson and Anders Lindback for example. They’re coming off rough stints with the New York Islanders and Dallas Stars respectively, but now find themselves in a situation where they have a legitimate shot at competing for the starting gig. They’ll want to make the most of this opportunity to prove that they still have value on an NHL squad.

They’re not alone either. Buffalo is full of guys that are playing for their future or at least their pride. Meanwhile, the pressure is mounting for Tampa Bay as we move towards the postseason, so while the Lightning are expected to win this game, they certainly need to be careful or else these important two points will slip away.

Chiarelli: Bruins ‘cap crunch’ made it ‘tough’ to get trades done


When the dust settled on Monday’s trade deadline, Boston failed to land the impact forward or defenseman some envisioned, opting instead for Tampa Bay youngster Brett Connolly and Colorado veteran Max Talbot.

To hear GM Peter Chiarelli explain it, the lack of moves wasn’t for a lack of trying.

“It’s been tough as far as getting a trade done, getting any sort of transaction done,” he explained in his post-deadline media availability. “For us, we’re obviously under a cap crunch, but it’s just hard to get a deal done and you see the prices are so high.”

At forward, the B’s were linked to the likes of Chris Stewart (who went to Minnesota) and Cam Atkinson (who re-signed in Columbus on a three-year, $10.5 million deal). On defense, where the club has struggled this year and is shorthanded, the B’s were tied to a number of rentals — none of which panned out — and that was partly due to Chiarelli balancing the club’s immediate needs against it’s long-term health.

“We’re looking to the future and also to the present,” he said. “Our moves were necessitated by the prices and if we’re going to spend the picks that we spent, let’s look at all options, not just rental options.

“If I could fill every need, I would. It’s not a surprise or a revelation that our D, by losing [Johnny] Boychuk and [Kevan] Miller, our D is not what it was.”

When questioned about this approach given all the heat around his job security, Chiarelli was blunt.

“We’re all under pressure,” he said. “You’re a professional, you do what’s best for the organization.”

It was pretty clear, though, that finances dictated the day. It’s a financial situation that Chiarelli himself created; the bonus overages from Jarome Iginla’s contract put the B’s in a bind and led to jettisoning Boychuk prior to the start of the season, and also led to an inability to land rentals, like the club did prior to previous playoff runs (think Jaromir Jagr, Rich Peverley, Chris Kelly, Tomas Kaberle).

This year, different story. The Talbot acquisition relied on Colorado retaining 50 percent of the veteran’s salary, and Connolly — the sixth overall pick at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft — was viewed as someone that could help some now, but probably pay more dividends down the road (as a RFA making just $850,500, the B’s can control his cost to a certain degree.)

“He’s going to be a top-six player,” he said of Connolly. “There’s a future for him here.”

As for the playoffs, Chiarelli said the focus hasn’t changed. He thinks the B’s are still good enough to get in, and the fight to qualify should serve the team well in the future.

“I feel we have a team that can make the playoffs,” he said. “They’ve been through a lot of adversity. The young players have grown and will continue to grow.”

Winners and losers of the 2015 trade deadline


The dust has settled on another trade deadline, so now it’s time for hasty judgments. Let’s name the winners and losers mere moments after everything happened, then. For all the moves, click here.


source: AP
Source: AP


Deride “tank jobs” if you must, but Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray (pictured) is doing a masterful job of amassing a staggering array of assets. It’s genuinely difficult to keep track of all the futures Buffalo now possesses, yet Evander Kane + Connor McDavid/Jack Eichel should make the Sabres fun to watch starting in 2015-16.

(Assuming Buffalo gets one of the top two picks, which is fairly safe.)


The Coyotes shifted into sellers far more abruptly than the Sabres, yet their takeaway has been resounding. They landed an enviable haul for Antoine Vermette and Keith Yandle while “gently nudging” their way to the cellar by moving Devan Dubnyk before he won them too many games.


One of the biggest winners among the “buyers,” the Ducks reunited with James Wisniewski (pictured) while bolstering an already-young defense with an interesting piece in Simon Despres. They didn’t pay that big for a guy who may or may not help them in Tomas Fleischmann, who likely will get the benefit of the doubt from Bruce Boudreau thanks to their Washington days.

source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images


A reasonably healthy Kimmo Timonen could be a game-changer. Antoine Vermette may be the second-line center they were looking for. The big prices they paid might put them in the “losers” category in hindsight, however.


A nice job of “reloading” if not fully rebuilding.

The Leopolds

Jordyn Leopold’s adorable letter went viral and Jordan Leopold gets a chance to maybe make an impact with a playoff team in the Minnesota Wild.

Sven Baertschi

He clearly saw his stock plummet with the Calgary Flames, but now he gets a new lease on life with the Vancouver Canucks. Perhaps he’ll get up a little bit more for each rivalry game, too?

Teams that tweaked like Montreal, Detroit

The Canadiens grabbed some depth and also an interesting defenseman in Jeff Petry. The Red Wings get an aging but skilled puck mover in Marek Zidlicky and a top-six forward in Erik Cole. Maybe they didn’t knock their moves out of the park, but good teams like these (and maybe the St. Louis Blues?) are better equipped for the postseason without blowing up their futures.

Olli Jokinen

He went from barely playing for the Nashville Predators to complaining about being a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs to getting a chance at his first-ever deep playoff run with the St. Louis Blues.

Relocated Sabres

Chris Stewart gets a chance to inflate his value as a free agent if he can score big goals for the Wild. Torrey Mitchell could barely contain his excitement about going home to Montreal. Michal Neuvirth is a Jaroslav Halak injury away from an interesting opportunity …

Everyone involved with David Clarkson

Via Smashfest.ca

Sure, he was traded for the essentially retired Nathan Horton, but David Clarkson gets a desperately needed clean slate. Toronto gets crucial cap space and Columbus isn’t wasting its budget on a guy who cannot play. Everyone wins?

Days before the deadline

It’s becoming a trend that the days before the deadline contain the biggest deals. When you expand the scope to the likes of Evander Kane and Keith Yandle, all of a sudden the trade deadline has some solid star power.


Deadline day itself

That said, if you took a day off to follow the proceedings on March 2 … you only have yourself to blame.


Did they know that the deadline was today? (Cue bad term paper memories.) San Jose was pretty quiet, too.


The Bruins didn’t get help on defense and it remains to be seen if Brett Connolly and Max Talbot can give Boston much of a boost on the wings.


Pretty quiet deadline for a team in perpetual rebuild mode.


OK, Keith Yandle definitely makes them an interesting team in 2014-15 (and isn’t a full-on rental) … but at some point you need to keep some first-round picks, right? GM Glen Sather isn’t being shy about going “all-in,” and we might look back at this and wonder what he was thinking.

(They’ll be a lot of fun in the short term, though.)


Penguins fans aren’t exactly thrilled about the return of Ben Lovejoy, at least for the price of a former first-rounder. Then again, if you count the David Perron trade, they’re among the bigger winners.

Chad Johnson

He was already struggling as a backup with the Islanders, now he’s going to get shelled in Buffalo, which could be a painful trial-by-fire. Not ideal for a guy who’s still trying to prove himself and stop people from making jokes about faded former NFL receivers.

Eric Brewer

Health hasn’t been on his side, and now he’s gone from being on a contender to playing out the string in Toronto.


Who else would make your lists? Share your picks in the comments.