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VANCOUVER – There are a lot of reasons the job of an NHL general manager is a tough one. Here's the latest one to add to the list: How do you know what kind of team to build these days? It sure seemed like the NHL was going back to a speed game when the Pittsburgh Penguins won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017. Last year's Washington-Vegas Cup final certainly h…

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VANCOUVER -- Jason Botterill did not plan on staying in Vancouver to celebrate the Buffalo Sabres' six-player haul at the NHL draft. The team's general manager flew back to Buffalo late Saturday night so he could be in his office Sunday morning to negotiate with other teams' pending unrestricted free agents. That process will be easier to undertake with the NHL's announ…

Columns

VANCOUVER – This was a four-hour show that needed to get done but it had nothing to do with the Buffalo Sabres' 2019-20 season. Now things start getting real. Sure, the Sabres added to their organizational goalie stockpile Saturday at the NHL Draft with 6-foot-6 Swede Erik Portillo. And it was funny to hear Jason Botterill talk about the "intel" they used to get the pic…

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VANCOUVER — Jason Botterill did not hide his excitement Friday morning. The Buffalo Sabres' General Manager smiled when speaking to reporters in Trump International Hotel and Tower in downtown Vancouver, and expected to have the same expression on his face when he walked to the stage in Rogers Arena hours later. Botterill, amid his final preparations for his third dr…

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VANCOUVER — Welcome to another NHL Draft weekend, where dreams are made for 18-year-olds and teams set the stage for big deals. Our annual reminder is in place that this is not the NFL, where teams can reset their roster and get multiple starters out of one draft. In this NHL Draft, only presumptive Nos. 1-2 Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko are likely to play in the NHL this…

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When Jason Botterill was hired as general manager of the Buffalo Sabres in May 2017, he inherited a roster with elite young talent but little organizational depth. Rather than trying to expedite the rebuild by trading away high draft picks for NHL players, Botterill asked the fan base for patience, a tough sell in a market that has not experienced playoff hockey since 2…

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The St. Louis Blues just won the Stanley Cup on Wednesday and were feted with a parade and rally under the Gateway Arch on Saturday. The official end of hockey season? Hardly. Things are done on the ice for now but will really start heating up off of it. The NHL Awards are Wednesday night in Las Vegas, with Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin joining St. Louis goalie Jordan…

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The Buffalo Sabres could only accomplish so much without knowing if Jeff Skinner would depart as an unrestricted free agent. General Manager Jason Botterill was unsure how much cap space would be at his disposal or what he needed to acquire via trades or free agency. With Friday's news that Skinner has signed an eight-year contract worth $72 million, Botterill can now p…

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So the Jeff Skinner melodrama is officially over. On one hand, you can say good for the Sabres and General Manager Jason Botterill. On the other hand, what else could they do? The Sabres had to pay Skinner. And at $9 million per season for eight years, it's a bit of an overpay at least for now. Skinner can repay the team with some more 30- or even 40-goal seasons to …

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Ralph Krueger insisted on his opening conference call with Buffalo reporters Wednesday that the 2019 Sabres are ahead of the Edmonton Oilers he coached in 2013, who were mired in the "rebuild phase completely." The Sabres, of course, have big-name talents Jack Eichel, Rasmus Dahlin and Sam Reinhart, as well as the promise of many younger players on the NHL roster and in…

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While texting this week with a Western Conference colleague about Buffalo Sabres coaching candidates, he stopped me in my tracks when he asked if I ever had seen the commercials for Dos Equis, the Mexican beer that featured "the most interesting man in the world." "I think that is Ralph Krueger," my friend said confidently. "Who else has been an NHL head coach, ran Sout…

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Another potential candidate to be the Buffalo Sabres' next coach is off the board. The Philadelphia Flyers announced Monday that they have hired Alain Vigneault as the 21st head coach in franchise history. The 57-year-old has spent 16 seasons as an NHL coach, most recently a five-year stint with the New York Rangers, which began with a Stanley Cup Final appearance in…

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It seems that Jason Botterill never got to the offer stage with Todd McLellan to quickly wrap up the Sabres coaching search. Whether their chats actually got to that point or not, McLellan's Buffalo-or-Los-Angeles dilemma gave another window into the Sabres' continued recruiting issues after years of losing hockey. If you're a coaching candidate or free agent, the Sabre…

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The taboo of college coaches making the jump directly to the NHL is slowly sliding away. It's probably overdue. It's been common for years in the NFL and NBA for college coaches to get a chance, even though the results at times have been middling at best, with coaches such as Nick Saban and John Calipari clearly better off in college. But others, such as Pete Carroll an…

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Rasmus Ristolainen said the six losing seasons he’s endured since the Buffalo Sabres drafted him with the eighth overall pick in 2013 have been difficult mentally, that change is inevitable when a franchise continues to fail to make the playoffs, and that players on the team need to hold each other more accountable. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound defenseman was the first playe…