DENVER — Jason Botterill has a method to building an organizational culture that was familiar to Pittsburgh farmhands playing in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and is now getting translated to Sabres prospects in Rochester.
The idea is for players to grow up through the system and then win Stanley Cups like they did with the Penguins. Scott Wilson is an example and he joined the Sabres here Tuesday with a strong message that Botterill's way is the right way.
Wilson was Wilkes-Barre teammates with players like Matt Murray, Connor Sheary, Bryan Rust, Carter Rowney and Jake Guentzel, and was one of several two-time Cup champions to hit Pittsburgh through Wilkes-Barre.
"Nothing is given to you," Wilson said Tuesday in Pepsi Center when asked about Botterill's message. "We were lucky to have a good team in Wilkes-Barre when we were down there. It kind of just so happened we came up all together to Pittsburgh and that definitely made it easier. But 'Bottsy' didn't give us anything up front.
"We really had to work for it and he told us that. He's the guy to create that culture of guys competing against each other. Us young guys competed hard for ice time and Botterill let us know that's how it's going to go from here on out in the NHL. He's been a calming influence on me and he's helped me out, so I'm grateful for that."
Wearing No. 20, Wilson made his Buffalo debut here Tuesday night against the Colorado Avalanche. The Sabres acquired him Monday from Detroit for a 2019 fifth-round pick after the Penguins traded him to the Red Wings last month for Riley Sheahan.
"I can't tell you how excited I am to get a shot here," Wilson said. "Knowing Bottsy and a couple of the scouts, it's a little bit easier of a transition for me. They're trying to turn it around here and I'm excited to be a part of it.
"That gives you a little bit of confidence knowing somebody wants you and really tried to push for you to be here. He's done a lot of things for my career and really brought me up into the NHL."
Coach Phil Housley went up against Wilson during last year's Penguins-Nashville Cup final and immediately put him on a line Tuesday with Evan Rodrigues and Kyle Okposo.
"I know Jason spoke very highly of him," said Housley. "Just seeing him play against us in Nashville last year, he brings speed, he brings physicality. He knows what it takes to win so it's a good addition to our team."
The Sabres did not have any former Stanley Cup winners in their dressing room until the final week of training camp, when they claimed two-time winner Jordan Nolan off waivers from Los Angeles. Now Wilson adds two more Cup rings.
"These guys have been through the trenches," Housley said. "They know what it takes to win. Hopefully that rubs off on a lot of players in our room."
Wilson had eight goals and 18 assists in Pittsburgh last season and played in 20 games of the Penguins' Cup run with three goals and three assists. He scored a third-period goal in Game Two of the final, a 4-1 Pittsburgh win.
"I've obviously learned from those great players who've been in hundreds of games in the playoffs," he said. "I've been fortunate to be on a couple of teams, even in the American League, that went far in the playoffs and you learn a bit there. The last two years were something special going so late and learning a lot.
"Being a young guy, I tried to be a sponge in those situations and learn what it truly takes to win. They know what it takes. We should be spreading the learning curve with that to try to turn it around here."
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Veteran winger Matt Moulson cleared waivers but the Sabres opted not to send him to Rochester and instead worked out an arrangement with him to loan him to the Los Angeles Kings. Moulson, who was in the Kings organization from 2006-2009, was assigned to the Ontario Reign of the AHL.
"Matt has been a true professional, especially during this difficult decision," Botterill said in a statement issued by the team. "Matt has previously spent time within the Kings organization early in his career and we felt this would be the best opportunity for him. From an organizational standpoint, we felt that with our young forwards in place in Rochester, we did not want to take away from their development and ice time by adding another veteran player at this time."
Moulson played for the Kings and their AHL affiliate in Manchester, N.H., for three seasons from 2006-2009. Moulson's brother-in-law is longtime Kings goalie Jonathan Quick; Moulson's wife, Alicia, and Quick's wife, Jaclyn, are sisters.
Moulson, who had no points in 14 games for Buffalo this season, remains Sabres property and counts $3.975 million against the Sabres' salary cap for the rest of the season by playing in the AHL. There were no waiver takers for his $5 million salary, which runs through next season.
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Casey Mittelstadt, the Sabres top draft choice in June, made the preliminary Team USA roster for the upcoming World Junior Championships.
USA Hockey announced a list of 28 players and 23 will make the cut for the team that will play in KeyBank Center Dec. 26-Jan. 5. Team USA opens the tournament Dec. 26 against Denmark and a highlight of pool play is the Dec. 29 game outdoors at New Era Field against Canada.
Mittelstadt is tied for third in the NCAA in freshman scoring with 15 points (five goals, 10 assists) in 17 games for Minnesota. He will head to the Team USA camp in Columbus, Ohio, from Dec. 15-19. Team USA then has two pre-tournament games, including a matchup against Belarus at 7 p.m. Dec. 20 in Jamestown's Northwest Arena.
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Sabres defenseman Nathan Beaulieu (flu) missed the game and did not make the trip here. Housley said he's day to day and improving, so it's possible he could rejoin the club for practice Thursday in Chicago in advance of Friday night's game against the Blackhawks in United Center.