Buffalo Sabres

It’s Buffalo Sabres Day at PHT

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Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Buffalo Sabres.

Since the Sabres’ debut in 1970, Buffalo has finished with a points percentage (points divided by maximum possible points) below .400 just three times and two of those incidences were in 2013-14 (.317) and 2014-15 (.329), so it’s not a stretch to say that their last two seasons have been a statistical low-point for this franchise.

Very little was expected of the Sabres going into the 2014-15 campaign and right from the start they couldn’t subvert expectations. They didn’t even possess a lead in a game until their fourth contest of the season on Oct. 15. They didn’t win a game in regulation time until Oct. 25. At no point during the season did they have own a winning record.

Buffalo did enjoy a stretch from Nov. 15-Dec. 15 where the squad went 10-3-0, but any hope that it would be the part of a march towards the playoffs was quickly dashed as the Sabres fell apart once more. The team only had two winning streaks (each just two games in length) after that point.

Their offense was a particular problem as they didn’t have a single 50-point player and only Tyler Ennis reached the 20-goal mark. Buffalo ended up recording just 1.87 goals per game, making it the second straight season that it was the lone sub-2.00 team.

Off-season recap

And yet there is a sense of optimism in Buffalo and it’s not unjustified.

With the second overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Buffalo was able to take a potential generational talent in forward Jack Eichel. Combined with their acquisitions of Evander Kane in February and Ryan O’Reilly in June, the Sabres’ offense isn’t looking so anemic anymore.

They also surrendered the 21st overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft to pry goaltender Robin Lehner from Ottawa. Lehner is coming off of a rough campaign where he posted a 3.02 GAA and .905 save percentage in 25 contests, but he’s still just 24 years old and has a lot of promise.

On the coaching front, Buffalo fired Ted Nolan and replaced him with Dan Bylsma. While how much Nolan should be blamed for the Sabres’ shortcomings last season given the roster they had is debatable, Buffalo is gaining a head coach that has won the Stanley Cup and owns a 252-117-32 regular season record.

Buffalo hasn’t transformed itself into a major contender, but it’s easy to look at what they’ve done and come to the conclusion that they’ve taken a meaningful step forward this summer.

Owner Pegula: Sabres have gone through ‘two of the most successful seasons we’ve ever had’

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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’

PHT Morning Skate: ‘Hawks fan hikes Machu Picchu, meets Jonathan Toews

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Ryan Adorjan has been traveling in Peru for the last three months, during which time he both watched Jonathan Toews win the Stanley Cup on television… then met Jonathan Toews while hiking Machu Picchu. Decent little trip, that. (Oswego Only)

Former Kings, Devils and Hurricanes forward Andrei Loktionov is eyeing a return to the NHL. (Russia-Hockey.ru)

He hasn’t been asked yet, but Ryan Smyth has contemplated housing Connor McDavid this season in Edmonton. (NHL.com)

The Coyotes have hired Corey Schwab and Jon Elkin as their new goalie coaches. (Fox Sports Arizona)

Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon worked the drive-thru window of a Nova Scotia Tim Horton’s on Monday. Insert Ryan O’Reilly joke here. (The Chronicle Herald)

Avs ink former first-rounder Hishon to one-year deal

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Colorado has re-upped with RFA forward Joey Hishon — the club’s first-round pick (17th overall) in 2010 — to a one-year deal.

Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

Hishon, 23, made his NHL debut during the ’13-14 playoffs and his regular-season debut last year, scoring two points in 13 games. The former OHL Owen Sound standout has struggled mightily with health issues over the last few years — most notably, a concussion suffered with the Attack that sidelined him for 22 months, delaying the start of his pro career in the AHL.

Last season Hishon suffered both neck and elbow injuries, which limited him to the aforementioned 13 games.

It’ll be interesting to see where Hishon fits next season. The Avs replaced outgoing center Ryan O’Reilly with ex-Bruin Carl Soderberg, so it could be a struggle for Hishon to find minutes down the middle. If Colorado contemplates a move to the wing, Hishon will have a pair of new faces challenging for playing time: Mikhail Grigorenko, acquired in the O’Reilly trade, and Blake Comeau, who was signed in free agency.

NBC Sports to broadcast 105 NHL games in 2015-16

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They’ve just announced the big list of 105 regular-season NHL games that NBC/NBCSN will be broadcasting in 2015-16.

It all kicks off with an Oct. 7 doubleheader on NBCSN, with the Rangers visiting the Blackhawks followed by the Kings hosting the Sharks.

Games on NBC start with the Thanksgiving Showdown on Friday, Nov. 27, between the Rangers and Bruins.

Other notables include the Winter Classic between the Bruins and Habs on Jan. 1, as well as the only visit Connor McDavid’s Oilers will make to Buffalo to take on Jack Eichel’s Sabres on March 1.

The press release has all the information.

Here’s the full list of games:

Wed., Oct. 7 N.Y. Rangers Chicago NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Wed., Oct. 7 San Jose Los Angeles NBCSN 10 p.m.
Thur., Oct. 8 Minnesota Colorado NBCSN 9 p.m.
Tues., Oct. 13 Tampa Bay Detroit NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Wed., Oct. 14 Chicago Philadelphia NBCSN 8 p.m.
Tues., Oct. 20 Dallas Philadelphia NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Wed., Oct. 21 Philadelphia Boston NBCSN 8 p.m.
Tues., Oct. 27 Tampa Bay St. Louis NBCSN 8 p.m.
Wed., Oct. 28 Pittsburgh Washington NBCSN 8 p.m.
Wed., Oct. 28 Nashville San Jose NBCSN 10:30 p.m.
Tues., Nov. 3 Los Angeles St. Louis NBCSN 8:30 p.m.
Wed., Nov. 4 St. Louis Chicago NBCSN 8 p.m.
Tues., Nov. 10 Buffalo Tampa Bay NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Wed., Nov. 11 Montreal Pittsburgh NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Tues., Nov. 17 Minnesota Pittsburgh NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Wed., Nov. 18 Washington Detroit NBCSN 8 p.m.
Wed., Nov. 25 Philadelphia N.Y. Islanders NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Wed., Nov. 25 Chicago San Jose NBCSN 10 p.m.
Fri., Nov 27 N.Y. Rangers Boston NBC 1 p.m.
Fri., Nov. 27 Chicago Anaheim NBCSN 5 p.m.
Tues., Dec. 1 Minnesota Chicago NBCSN 8 p.m.
Tues., Dec. 1 Pittsburgh San Jose NBCSN 10:30 p.m.
Wed., Dec. 2 N.Y. Rangers N.Y. Islanders NBCSN 8 p.m.
Tues., Dec. 8 Detroit Washington NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Wed., Dec. 9 Boston Montreal NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Wed., Dec. 9 Pittsburgh Colorado NBCSN 10 p.m.
Tues., Dec. 15 Colorado Chicago NBCSN 8:30 p.m.
Wed., Dec. 16 Pittsburgh Boston NBCSN 8 p.m.
Tues., Dec. 22 Montreal Minnesota NBCSN 8 p.m.
Tues., Dec. 22 San Jose Los Angeles NBCSN 10:30 p.m.
Tues., Dec. 29 Nashville St. Louis NBCSN 8 p.m.
Wed., Dec. 30 N.Y. Rangers Tampa Bay NBCSN 8 p.m.
Wed., Dec. 30 Philadelphia San Jose NBCSN 10:30 p.m.
Fri., Jan. 1 Montreal Boston NBC 1 p.m.
Mon., Jan. 4 Los Angeles Colorado NBCSN 9 p.m.
Tues., Jan. 5 Montreal Philadelphia NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Wed., Jan. 6 Pittsburgh Chicago NBCSN 8 p.m.
Thur., Jan. 7 Philadelphia Minnesota NBCSN 8 p.m.
Sun., Jan. 10 New Jersey Minnesota NBCSN 8 p.m.
Tues., Jan. 12 Tampa Bay Colorado NBCSN 9 p.m.
Wed., Jan. 13 Boston Philadelphia NBCSN 8 p.m.
Thur., Jan. 14 Chicago Montreal NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Sun., Jan. 17 Philadelphia Detroit NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Mon., Jan. 18 Pittsburgh St. Louis NBCSN 8 p.m.
Tues., Jan. 19 Chicago Nashville NBCSN 8 p.m.
Wed., Jan. 20 St. Louis Detroit NBCSN 8 p.m.
Wed., Jan. 20 Minnesota Anaheim NBCSN 10:30 p.m.
Sun., Jan. 24 Pittsburgh Washington NBC 12:30 p.m.
Mon., Jan. 25 Buffalo N.Y. Rangers NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Tues., Jan 26 Chicago Carolina NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Tues., Jan 26 Colorado San Jose NBCSN 10 p.m.
Wed., Jan. 27 Philadelphia Washington NBCSN 8 p.m.
Wed., Jan. 27 Colorado Los Angeles NBCSN 10:30 p.m.
Tues., Feb. 2 Florida Washington NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Wed., Feb. 3 Detroit Tampa Bay NBCSN 8 p.m.
Thurs., Feb. 4 N.Y. Islanders Washington NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Thurs., Feb. 4 Anaheim Los Angeles NBCSN 10 p.m.
Sun., Feb. 7 Philadelphia Washington NBC 12 p.m.
Tues., Feb. 9 Dallas Minnesota NBCSN 8 p.m.
Wed., Feb. 10 N.Y. Rangers Pittsburgh NBCSN 8 p.m.
Sun., Feb. 14 Boston Detroit NBC 3 p.m.
Sun., Feb. 14 Philadelphia N.Y. Rangers NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Tues., Feb. 16 Dallas St. Louis NBCSN 8 p.m.
Wed., Feb. 17 Chicago N.Y. Rangers NBCSN 8 p.m.
Thurs., Feb. 18 Detroit Pittsburgh NBCSN 7 p.m.
Sun., Feb. 21 Pittsburgh Buffalo NBC 12:30 p.m.
Sun., Feb. 21 Chicago Minnesota NBC 3:30 p.m.
Sun., Feb. 21 Detroit N.Y. Rangers NBCSN 7 p.m.
Mon., Feb. 22 San Jose St. Louis NBCSN 8 p.m.
Tues., Feb. 23 Columbus Detroit NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Wed., Feb. 24 Pittsburgh Boston NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Wed., Feb. 24 San Jose Colorado NBCSN 10 p.m.
Thurs., Feb. 25 Nashville Chicago NBCSN 8 p.m.
Sat., Feb. 27 Detroit Colorado NBC 8 p.m.
Sun., Feb. 28 Washington Chicago NBC 12:30 p.m.
Sun., Feb. 28 Tampa Bay Boston NBCSN 6:30 p.m.
Sun., Feb 28 Los Angeles Anaheim NBCSN 9 p.m.
Tues., March 1 Edmonton Buffalo NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Wed., March 2 Chicago Detroit NBCSN 8 p.m.
Sun., March 6 St. Louis Minnesota NBCSN 8 p.m.
Mon., March 7 Arizona Colorado NBCSN 9 p.m.
Tues., March 8 Pittsburgh N.Y. Islanders NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Wed., March 9 Chicago St. Louis NBCSN 8 p.m.
Sun., March 13 Pittsburgh N.Y. Rangers NBC 12:30 p.m.
Sun., March 13 Toronto Detroit NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Mon., March 14 Los Angeles Chicago NBCSN 8 p.m.
Tues., March 15 Detroit Philadelphia NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Tues., March 15 Boston San Jose NBCSN 10 p.m.
Wed., March 16 Philadelphia Chicago NBCSN 8 p.m.
Sun., March 20 Washington Pittsburgh NBCSN 6 p.m.
Sun., March 20 Minnesota Chicago NBCSN 8:30 p.m.
Mon., March 21 Philadelphia N.Y. Islanders NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Tues., March 22 Los Angeles Minnesota NBCSN 8:30 p.m.
Wed., March 23 Boston N.Y. Rangers NBCSN 8 p.m.
Sun., March 27 N.Y. Rangers Pittsburgh NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Mon., March 28 Buffalo Detroit NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Mon., March 28 Los Angeles San Jose NBCSN 10 p.m.
Tues., March 29 Colorado St. Louis NBCSN 8:30 p.m.
Wed., March 30 Washington Philadelphia NBCSN 8 p.m.
Sun., April 3 Boston Chicago NBC 12:30 p.m.
Sun., April 3 St. Louis Colorado NBCSN 8 p.m.
Tues., April 5 Tampa Bay N.Y. Rangers NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Wed., April 6 Philadelphia Detroit NBCSN 8 p.m.
Sat., April 9 Pittsburgh Philadelphia NBC 3 p.m.
Sat., April 9 TBD TBD NBCSN TBD