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Sabres Notebook: Lines come into focus; 17 players demoted; Fedun skates

Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart and Evander Kane are back together. Ryan O’Reilly will likely play in the middle of Kyle Okposo and Tyler Ennis.

With most of the minor-leaguers gone from Sabres training camp, coach Dan Bylsma’s vision for Buffalo is coming into focus.

The Sabres made their biggest roster purge of training camp Saturday, sending 17 players to Rochester. With the team practicing in one group rather than multiple packs, it was easier to see what the opening-night lineup may look like. Here were the forward lines with only Ryan O’Reilly not on the ice:

Kane-Eichel-Reinhart; Ennis-Zemgus Girgensons-Okposo; Marcus Foligno-Johan Larsson-Brian Gionta; Matt Moulson-Derek Grant-Nicolas Deslauriers; and Hudson Fasching-Cal O'Reilly-Alexander Nylander.

Ryan O’Reilly, who may start practicing Monday after resting from the World Cup, could easily slide into the second line, bumping Girgensons, Larsson and Grant down a spot.

“You’ll see us get a little closer to what the top nine are going to look like,” Bylsma said in KeyBank Center.

The defense situation is cloudier after Dmitry Kulikov and Zach Bogosian sat out practice. Kulikov has a “bruise to his butt bone,” Bylsma said. Bogosian visited doctors to examine the mild groin strain he suffered during Thursday’s exhibition game against Toronto.

“Left the game more on precaution than it was an injury,” Bylsma said.

Goaltender Robin Lehner practiced with fellow netminders Anders Nilsson and Linus Ullmark after sitting out Friday’s game against Toronto with a forearm contusion.

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While the hope of an NHL life has faded for some of the Sabres’ top prospects, Bylsma made it clear the dream is not dead.

Justin Bailey, Cole Scheider and Evan Rodrigues were among the notable names sent down to the Amerks. The Sabres, however, have three more preseason games, and they’ll play them on the road in a four-day span starting Tuesday. They will need a few minor-leaguers to fill out the exhibition rosters.

“There’s going to be opportunity sooner than later,” Bylsma said. “With injury situations and bumps and bruises we have, there may be an opportunity for some of those guys to join us on that trip.

“They’ve been sent with that message don’t hang your head here. There’s going to be opportunity, and it could be coming shortly. A lot of guys have the opportunity to earn maybe one or two more games.”

The Sabres’ other cuts were forwards William Carrier, Daniel Catenacci, Eric Cornel, Jean Dupuy, Vaclav Karabacek, Justin Kea, Matthew Lane and Daniel Muzito-Bagenda; defensemen Brady Austin, Mac Bennett, Paul Geiger and Brycen Martin; and goalies Jason Kasdorf and John Muse.

Schneider and Catenacci need to clear waivers before they can report to the Amerks, who started training camp Saturday in HarborCenter. Nicholas Baptiste was also listed on the Amerks’ roster, but he suffered a back injury Friday and can’t be sent down until healthy.

The Sabres have 33 players (18 forwards, 12 defensemen, three goaltenders) on their roster. They need to get to the NHL maximum of 23 on Oct. 11.

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Defenseman Taylor Fedun joined the Sabres for the first time. The free-agent signee hadn’t practiced since suffering two fractures in his foot in April with Vancouver’s minor-league team.

"It just dragged on throughout the whole summer," he said. "I was expecting it to not be an issue at this point, that’s for sure."

The 28-year-old has appeared in the NHL with Vancouver, San Jose and Edmonton, putting up two goals and seven points in 12 games. The 6-foot, 200-pounder has an opportunity to put himself in contention for a spot on the blue line.

"One of my strengths is using my hockey sense and smarts out there to play a strong positional game and distribute the puck fast," Fedun said. "I’ve had some really good opportunities to play on teams that encouraged me to move pucks and jump into the rush."

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