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Sabres Notebook: O'Reilly sounds like a captain; injured Nylander is 'week-to-week'

Ryan O'Reilly knows the Sabres' captaincy is available. While he says it would be an honor to wear the "C," he's not going to campaign for it.

As usual, his words suggest he's a top candidate.

The Sabres struggled with communication last season, and O'Reilly is determined to change that.

"Leadership is a big part, hold everyone accountable, myself being accountable more," O'Reilly said Friday in HarborCenter. "It's all of us together, and speak up when things don't work.

"As a group we have to have more dialogue between each other and also with the coaching staff, too. As a group we have to go to them and say, 'OK, we're struggling with this. We need to change and do this.' We have to be confident doing it.

"I think me and a few other guys will take control on that."

O'Reilly was hard on himself during last season's farewell address, saying he wasn't the vocal leader he needed to be. It's clear the 26-year-old wants to take steps to change that.

"Also, too, my own play," said O'Reilly, who had 20 goals and 55 points last season. "I've got to create more. I have to be a little more consistent getting on the board. It's going to start with myself."

New General Manager Jason Botterill and coach Phil Housley say they're in no hurry to name a captain. They'll get a feel during training camp for how guys lead on the ice and in the dressing room.

O'Reilly took a clear first step.

"The mindset of a lot of guys is we're moving in the right direction," the center said. "Whether they do (name a captain) or not, it doesn't really affect us. We made our changes, and we know what we need to do now. I think it's going to be a lot better either way.

"It would be an honor. Obviously, you look at the guys that have worn it in the past in this organization, obviously it's something very special. Letter or not, the stuff that needed to change I think has. That's what we want."

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There's a prime spot at left wing for the Sabres, and Alex Nylander was eager to prove he deserved it.

He'll have to wait.

Nylander suffered a lower-body injury during the Sabres' Prospects Challenge last week, and Housley said Friday that Nylander is "week-to-week." That's a downgrade from Monday when General Manager Jason Botterill seemed hopeful Nylander would be ready for the start of training camp.

"It's unfortunate," Housley said. "He'll be assessed. Guarding on the side of caution because it's so early in the season."

The Sabres selected Nylander with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft. He had two drawbacks during his rookie season last year – a lack of size and inconsistent play – but he entered the prospect tournament looking noticeably bigger. He played in just one game, then missed the final two because of the injury.

Bigger, more confident Nylander ready to prove himself to Sabres

Center Sean Malone missed the entire Prospects Challenge because of injury, and he was absent when Buffalo took the ice for the first time.

"That’s another week-to-week decision," Housley said. "He's responding well now. He's starting to do exercises, so he's close to getting back on the ice."

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Sam Reinhart is no stranger to shifting from right wing to center. He was in the middle Friday and excited about it.

He is also aware he could be a right winger before camp is over.

"I've spent my whole career back and forth. I've been ready for it," Reinhart said. "Like I've said in the past, I'm ready for every challenge thrown at me."

Reinhart centered for left wing Benoit Pouliot and right wing Stevie Moses, who spent the last three seasons in Russia.

"There's a long way to go before the season starts," Reinhart said. "I'm going to let my play do the talking for me. I'm going to try and earn every opportunity that I get."

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The Sabres will play six preseason games. Fans can hear them all and watch three.

Buffalo announced that all of its exhibition games will be carried on WGR-AM 550. The final three games will also be shown on MSG.

Dan Dunleavy and Rob Ray will serve as the announcers for the opening four games, and Rick Jeanneret will join Ray for the final two.

The Sabres start their preseason at 7 p.m. Monday when the Carolina Hurricanes visit KeyBank Center. The Sabres and Pittsburgh Penguins will meet at Penn State at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Buffalo will visit Toronto at 7:30 p.m. Friday. The Maple Leafs will come to KeyBank Center at 7 p.m. next Saturday. That MSG game will be a simulcast of the Leafs' Sportsnet broadcast.

The Sabres will visit Pittsburgh at 7 p.m. Sept. 27 and will close the exhibition schedule at home against the New York Islanders at 7 p.m. Sept. 29.

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