Tag: Dan Bylsma

Zach Bogosian, Boone Jenner

Sabres’ biggest question: Defense


As much as the Buffalo Sabres have improved lately, it still seems like they’re going to struggle on defense.

Honestly, there are strong odds that they’ll struggle a lot.

You can trot out the simplest stats (Buffalo allowed a league-worst shots on goal average of 35.6 per game, two more than second-worst Toronto) or go a little deeper (the Sabres’ Fenwick Close was downright ghastly), but the bottom line is that Buffalo was atrocious on D. Their offensive firepower was meek in 2014-15, yet the Sabres’ work in their own end was the leading reason people described them as “historically inept.”

Just look at the dregs of NHL.com’s “SAT” stat and you’ll see just how much worse Buffalo was than the rest of the worst:

26. Columbus: -365
27. Toronto: -515
28. Calgary: -839
29. Colorado: -984
30. Buffalo: -1,789


GM Tim Murray made this team better in many ways – and certain facets should benefit Buffalo defensively – but the personnel is still lacking.

Even if Dan Byslma’s a big difference-maker, it’s difficult to imagine him working many miracles with some combination of Rasmus Ristolainen, Zach Bogosian (pictured), Josh Gorges, Mike Weber, Matt Donovan, Mark Pysyk, Jake McCabe and Carlo Colaiacovo.

(Seriously, take a step back and ponder that group for a moment.)

Look, players like Ristolainen could very well make significant strides in 2015-16. Buffalo is also likely to enjoy better two-way play from its forward group, as Ryan O’Reilly and David Legwand both possess some defensive chops. Again, Byslma’s systems could at least drag the Sabres closer to respectability, as well.

If you dial down the optimism to more reasonable levels, the Sabres are likely to put a ton of pressure on Robin Lehner and Chad Johnson next season, as that defense stands as a work in progress … at best.

Sabres to part ways with Arturs Irbe

New York Islanders v Buffalo Sabres

The Buffalo Sabres got their goaltender on Friday, now they’re in search of a goalie coach.

According to John Vogl of The Buffalo News, Sabres’ coach Dan Bylsma told radio station WGR-AM 550 in Buffalo on Monday morning that the club would be parting ways with goaltending coach Artus Irbe.

“We’ve moved on from Arturs Irbe and are interviewing other candidates,” Bylsma told the station.

The 2014-15 season was Irbe’s lone season with the Sabres.

The 48-year-old had one year remaining on his contract.

Getting acquainted: Bylsma and Kane met for three hours

Screen Shot 2015-05-31 at 4.07.23 PM

While Evander Kane was in Buffalo last week having his shoulder evaluated he also had the opportunity to meet new Sabres’ head coach Dan Bylsma.

The two reportedly met for three hours to get to know one another.

Bylsma also spoke with former Winnipeg Jets coach Claude Noel about the 23-year-old forward.

As for what Noel told Bylsma?

“There is probably not a guy who is more competitive than Evander Kane,” Bylsma told Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

Bylsma has also considered the idea pairing Kane alongside Jack Eichel the projected No. 2 selection at next month’s NHL Draft.

“If that can work, imagine it coming at you,” Bylsma said of the pair’s speed.

Bylsma had an up close look at Eichel when the two were with Team USA at the World Hockey Championship in the Czech Republic.

“Right away in the tournament — versus Finland, versus Russia — he showed he could play against men, 16-18 minutes,” said Bylsma. “There were times he skated right by them…special plays from a special player.

“From what we know, (Eichel’s) power numbers are extremely good. His vertical, again from what we know, would be the second-best among the Sabres…so there’s a powerful base. He still needs to work on strength and to get bigger, but what he generates is an enormous amount of power. The way he can accelerate, you don’t see someone do that every day.”

Report: Changes coming to compensation for executives

Dan Bylsma

When the Buffalo Sabres hired Dan Bylsma on Thursday one of the issues reportedly holding up the deal was compensation.

In the end, the Sabres agreed to send the Penguins a third-round selection at the 2016 NHL Draft because Bylsma was still under contract with Pittsburgh despite being fired last year.

Pittsburgh didn’t seek compensation however when New Jersey hired former Pens’ GM Ray Shero earlier this month.

Why not?

“The rule is not as clear as it should be,” Penguins GM Jim Rutherford said on Friday. “We felt that the intent of the rule was for employees that were still with the team, that were working with the team, not terminated employees.

“Once Edmonton (gave Boston) a pick for (former Bruins GM) Peter Chiarelli — when he was a terminated employee — we decided to ask for picks for future employees.”

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the NHL’s Board of Governors will look to clarify the compensation rule.

During his headlines segment on Saturday night, Friedman reported that if an executive is fired by the club, that team will not receive compensation when the individual is hired by another organization.

A team would only receive compensation for an individual still working for a team.

The NHL’s Board of Governors are scheduled to meet next month when the league heads to Las Vegas for the awards.

Sabres’ Kane (shoulder) ‘ahead of schedule’ with recovery

Evander Kane

The hiring of head coach Dan Bylsma wasn’t the only good news for Buffalo Sabres fans this week.

Evander Kane was in Buffalo on Thursday to have his surgically repaired left shoulder re-evaluated. According to Kane’s agent Craig Oster, the forward is ahead of schedule on the initial 4-6 month recovery timeframe.

“Evander had a follow (up) appointment in Buffalo and all are pleased with his progress,” Oster told PHT via email. “He is ahead of schedule on his recovery and the expectation is he will be completely healthy for the start of the Sabres’ season.”

Kane, who was dealt from the Jets to the Sabres on Feb. 11, underwent surgery on his shoulder on Feb. 7.

The 23-year-old had 10 goals and 22 points in 37 games for Winnipeg this season prior to the surgery.