Evander Kane

Getting acquainted: Bylsma and Kane met for three hours

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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.”

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

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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.

Ennis sees ‘better days’ ahead for Buffalo

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These last two seasons couldn’t have gone much worse for Buffalo from a statistical perspective. The hope is that the Sabres will take a significant step forward in their rebuilding efforts in 2015-16.

“It’s definitely the start for sure of better days,” Tyler Ennis said, per the Associated Press. “There should be optimism.”

While some fans might have been comfortable with writing this season off in the hopes of securing one of Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel in the draft, finishing in last place was still frustrating for players like Ennis.

“We understand what happened this year, trying to get our future put in place,” Josh Gorges said. “But now, it’s time to take a step forward.”

How big of a step remains to be seen. The Sabres are expected to take McDavid or Eichel depending on whether or not they win the draft lottery or have to settle for the second overall pick. Evander Kane will also finally make his Buffalo debut next season after being acquired in February. He’s been recovering from a shoulder injury.

Those two additions alone might be a significant boost, but given the huge gap between Buffalo and much of the league, this team might continue to struggle next season. The Sabres have the entire summer to improve further on the trade and free agent markets, but regardless they do, the prospects in their system combined with the addition of McDavid or Eichel provides cause for the optimism people like Ennis feel.

Sabres send Reinhart to AHL

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The Buffalo Sabres have sent the No. 2 overall pick at last year’s draft, Sam Reinhart, to their AHL affiliate in Rochester.

The assignment, first reported by Reinhart’s WHL Kootenay team, will extend the 19-year-old’s season by at least a couple of weeks. Rochester has six regular-season games left, starting tonight against Lake Erie; the club won’t be making the Calder Cup playoffs, however, so Reinhart’s campaign will essentially end when the Amerks play their final game on Apr. 19.

Still, it promises to be an intriguing two weeks.

Reinhart achieved a remarkable level of success this year, making his NHL debut for the Sabres in October and playing nine games before heading back to Kootenay. There, he scored 65 points in 47 games — adding another nine in seven playoff appearances — and, in January, helped Canada capture gold at the 2015 World Juniors, where he was named to the tournament all-star team after scoring 11 points in seven games.

Reinhart is expected to challenge for a spot in Buffalo next season, and many project he could end up skating on a line with Evander Kane, acquired from Winnipeg in February.

PHT Morning Skate: Former NHLer Warren Peters delivers a devastating hit in a Danish league game

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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.

Former NHLer Warren Peters is in some hot water following a devastating hit in a Danish league game. Peters, who appeared in 94 career NHL games with the Flames, Wild and Stars, hit Lasse Bang with a blindside hit. Bang suffered a concussion on the hit while Peters was slapped with a six-game suspension. (Bar Down)

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St. Louis Blues’ defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk talks about the elite blue liners he’s played against during his six seasons in the NHL. (The Players’ Tribune)

The Hockey News looks at five trades made at the March trade deadline currently paying off. (The Hockey News)

Washington Capitals forward Brooks Laich displays his best Loyd Christmas impersonation after chipping a tooth.

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Kristina Rutherford visits with one of the newest members of the Buffalo Sabres, Evander Kane. (Sportsnet)