Robin Lehner was Tim Murray’s guy. It appears the goaltender will be Jason Botterill’s guy, too.
“I have no problem starting next season with him in goal,” the Sabres’ general manager told Sportsnet in an article published Tuesday. “There are more pressing needs. I liked what I saw from him when he won the Calder Cup.”
Lehner, who won the American Hockey League title with Ottawa’s farm team in 2011, had a solid season for Buffalo. The pending restricted free agent had a .920 save percentage while going 23-26-8 with a 2.68 goals-against average.
Murray acquired Lehner and center David Legwand in exchange for a first-round pick in June 2015.
As he did during his introductory news conference, Botterill said NHL experience will not be required as he conducts his coaching search.
“It’s not a necessity, but I do see it as a value,” the GM said. “You can develop as an AHL coach, but the scrutiny from fans, media and organization at the NHL level, how do you handle that? The expectation to win is much greater.
"That said, I’m not going to limit who we look at.”
The Sabres have interest in interviewing Ralph Krueger, TSN's Pierre LeBrun reported Tuesday. Formerly coach of the Edmonton Oilers, Krueger jumped into the spotlight last fall while successfully leading Team Europe to the title game at the World Cup of Hockey.
Krueger is presently in soccer, serving as chairman of the Southampton Football Club in the English Premier League. He is happy there.
“It was nice and honorable that I was offered two NHL jobs postseason and I was happy they didn’t forget about me, but I turned them down,” Krueger said told NBCSports.com. “It just feels like we’ve only just got started here."
Botterill told Sportsnet he expects Kyle Okposo to be ready for training camp. The right winger suffered a concussion late last season and ended up in a neuro intensive care unit, reportedly because of a reaction to medication used to treat the ailment.
Botterill will look at every possible method of addition to bolster Buffalo’s defense.
“It’s not rocket science,” he said. “We have to address the depth of our D corps. Rasmus Ristolainen is a great young player, but we have to help manage his minutes. It’s important.”
Ville Leino was one of the worst free-agent signings in NHL history. Sabres fans don’t look back fondly at his time in Buffalo, and neither does he.
Leino has a fashion company called Billebeino, and a hooded sweatshirt released Tuesday is titled “Jail.” It is about the Finn's final year with the Sabres, when Leino had no goals in 58 games in 2013-14.
Leino’s artwork features the words jail, greed and idiot. A cross and dollar sign are also present.
BILLEBEINO ART SERIES: JAIL (2013). "One of my most personal works. I was playing my third year in Buffalo Sabres with long and big contract. Things weren't working with me and the team. I was getting a lot of pressure and heat and there was no way out of it. I felt trapped and down. All I could do was get up every morning and go to work and try to make it work. This painting reflects those feelings that I was going through on that perioid of time." - Ville Leino. This one of a kind limited edition (70 pieces per print) is available only at the Billebeino Helsinki Pop Up store from 16th of May till 30th. Art Series hoodies, sweatshirts and t-shirts are 100% recycled, no water wasted ♻️ #billebeino #artseries #billebeinoartseries #jail #limitededition #hoodie #villeleino #artist #taiteilija #happyface #recycled #savewater #purewaste #helsinki #finland #areyoubillebeino
“One of my most personal works,” Leino wrote on Instagram to announce the release of the shirt. “I was playing my third year in Buffalo Sabres with long and big contract. Things weren't working with me and the team. I was getting a lot of pressure and heat and there was no way out of it. I felt trapped and down. All I could do was get up every morning and go to work and try to make it work.
“This painting reflects those feelings that I was going through on that period of time."
The Sabres signed Leino to a six-year, $27 million contract in July 2011, making him one of the first big splashes under Terry Pegula’s ownership. Leino totaled just 10 goals and 36 assists in 137 games.
Buffalo bought out Leino following his “jail” season. The 33-year-old played in Sweden this year. He will collect more than $1.2 million per year from Buffalo through 2019-20.
The Rangers refused to let Chris Drury interview with the Sabres. New York had its own plans for the former Buffalo captain.
The Rangers have named Drury as general manager of the Hartford Wolf Pack, the team’s American Hockey League affiliate. Drury takes over for former Sabres coach and defenseman Jim Schoenfeld, who relinquished his role with Hartford to concentrate on his senior vice president and assistant GM duties with the Rangers.
The 40-year-old Drury is quickly rising through the Rangers’ organization. The team hired him as director of player development for the 2015-16 season, and it named him assistant GM this season. He retains that title in addition to his general manager spot with Hartford.
Drury is also on the management team for the United States’ world championship squad.
Buffalo asked the Rangers last month if it could talk with Drury about its GM job, but New York declined.