Report: Ryan O’Reilly, Sabres agree to long-term deal

Jared Clinton
Ryan O'Reilly (Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Less than a week after snagging Ryan O’Reilly from the Colorado Avalanche hours before the draft, it appears the Buffalo Sabres are on the verge of locking the 24-year-old pivot up to a long-term deal.

According to a report by The Buffalo News’ John Vogl, a source has said O’Reilly and the Sabres have come to terms on a long-term contract and the deal will be announced soon. The terms of the deal, while not yet disclosed, will likely pay O’Reilly upwards of $7 million per season with the potential for the contract to be closer to the $8 million-mark per year.

O’Reilly is currently in the final year of a two-year, $12 million bridge deal which he signed in July 2014. Read more

Buffalo Sabres ink Jack Eichel to three-year, entry-level contract

Jared Clinton
Jack Eichel

Jack Eichel is ready to take on the NHL.

The Buffalo Sabres announced Wednesday that they have signed Eichel to a three-year, entry-level contract, which means Eichel will head to professional hockey instead of returning to Boston University next season.

Eichel, who was selected second overall at the 2015 draft by the Sabres, comes to Buffalo after just one season in the NCAA. While he had been quiet about where he would be headed next season, with some believed he could head back to school for the 2015-16 campaign, but his signing makes it official that he’s turning pro.

Last season with the Terriers, Eichel was the highest scoring player in the NCAA with 26 goals and 71 points in 40 games, and led the club to a conference championship and was the MVP of the Hockey East tournament. In addition, he took home Hobey Baker Award honors as the top player in the NCAA last season. Eichel was also the NCAA Rookie of the Year, first-team All American, Hockey East Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year and a first-team all-star.

With Eichel signed, the Sabres, who were goal starved last season, immediately become much better offensively. Add Eichel to the likes of Evander Kane, Ryan O’Reilly, Zemgus Girgensons and Matt Moulson, and the Buffalo offense looks vastly improved in a short span.

As for the contract, Eichel will get a pretty standard entry-level deal worth a reported $925,000 per season. That said, though, the contract will be heavily bonus laden and with Eichel likely to fight for the Calder Trophy next season, there’s a good chance his deal could earn Eichel much more than the base cap hit.

Here’s why it took so long for Housley to make HHOF grade

Brian Costello
NASHVILLE, TN - FEBRUARY 08:  Assistant head coach Phil Housley of the Nashville Predators coaches against the Anaheim Ducks at Bridgestone Arena on February 8, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Phil Housley

Phil Housley retired as the fourth-leading defenseman scorer in the history of the NHL. Only Ray Bourque, Paul Coffey and Al MacInnis had more points from the blueline than him. So why did it take him 10 attempts to get voted into the Hockey Hall of Fame?

There are a couple of theories. The first is Housley spent a good chunk of his early seasons with the Buffalo Sabres playing forward and racking up points. That’s a misconception. Housley made the massive jump from Minnesota high school to the NHL as an 18-year-old (after being selected sixth overall by Buffalo in 1982) and managed 19 goals and 66 points in 77 games as a rookie defenseman. Sure, it was the live puck era, but it was a celebrated feat nonetheless.

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Buyout looms as Buffalo Sabres waive Cody Hodgson

Jared Clinton
Cody Hodgson (Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Little more than two weeks ago, Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray went on local radio station WGR-550 and said the organization was considering a buyout for 25-year-old Cody Hodgson. As of Monday, the club has taken the first step in making a buyout a reality.

The Sabres placed Hodgson on unconditional waivers for the purpose of a buyout Monday and, by Tuesday, Hodgson will likely have cleared waivers and be bought out, becoming an unrestricted free agent just two seasons after inking a six-year, $25.5 million extension with Buffalo. Read more

Day 1 a great one for Buffalo, miserable one for Bruins

Dylan Strome, Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

SUNRISE, Fla. – Friday night will go down in history as the night Connor McDavid officially became a card-carrying member of the NHL fraternity and embarked on his career as the savior of the Edmonton Oilers. But that’s not all we’ll remember about the first night of the draft in 2015.

We may all look back at this night 10 years from now and identify it as the precise moment in time when two seismic events occurred. The first one is the ascension of the Buffalo Sabres into respectability. And the second is we may very well point to June 26, 2015 as the day the Boston Bruins began their downward spiral into mediocrity. Or worse.

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Eichel, O’Reilly and Legwand greasing skids for Hodgson buyout in Buffalo?

Ken Campbell
Ryan O'Reilly (Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

SUNRISE, Fla. – There probably hasn’t been an NHL player involved in more trade rumors than Ryan O’Reilly has been for the past couple of years. So the fact that it finally happened on draft day shouldn’t come as a huge surprise.

O’Reilly is a guy the Colorado Avalanche loved. On the ice. When it came to crossing swords with him over a contract, that’s an entirely different story. And like the Boston Bruins did with Dougie Hamilton, the Avalanche did not relish the idea of going through a difficult negotiation that might go sideways, so they dealt him.

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Senators trade Lehner & Legwand to Sabres, Bryan Murray continues to win the off-season

Matt Larkin
Robin Lehner (Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

Every time we blink, Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray pulls off another wise move.

A day after he locked up restricted free agents Mark Stone and Mika Zibanejad to highly reasonable deals, Murray delivered on his promise to trade a goaltender. Ottawa has shipped Robin Lehner and center David Legwand to the Buffalo Sabres for the 21st overall pick in tonight’s NHL draft.

The move is an obvious win for Ottawa. We knew it needed to lose a goaltender after re-signing Andrew Hammond and shoring up the future with NCAA keeper Matt O’Connor. We knew one of Lehner and Craig Anderson was as good as gone, and we also knew Buffalo was the ideal trading partner. Sabres GM Tim Murray is Bryan’s nephew and the Sens’ former assistant GM, so he knows Ottawa’s players well, and the Sabres desperately needed a goalie. The Sens also shed the dead-weight contract of Legwand, 34, who carries a $3-million cap hit one more year. So Ottawa can roll with Anderson and Hammond as a tandem, it will retain all its key young free agents, it has freed up a few more million in spending money and it picks twice in the first round tonight? My goodness. Murray is on fire.

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Rumor Roundup: It’s official – Matt Beleskey done with the Ducks

Matt Beleskey (Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Anaheim Ducks’ efforts to re-sign pending UFA winger Matt Beleskey ended in failure. Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reports the 27-year-old rejected the club’s best offer and is headed to unrestricted free agency on July first.

Murray told media members at Tuesday’s GM meetings: “We made a really fair offer. God bless him.”

Beleskey is coming off a career-best 22-goal season, along with eight goals in 16 playoff games. He’s completing a two-year deal worth an annual cap hit of $1.35 million. Given the lack of depth in this summer’s UFA pool, Beleskey could command more than $4-million annually on the open market.

It’s possible the Ducks could shop Beleskey’s rights before the July 1 free-agent deadline. If so, the Ducks could get a conditional draft pick if the winger signs with the team his rights were dealt to. It’s not much, but it will be better for the Ducks than losing him for nothing.

Hearing word that the Pittsburgh Penguins were among the preferred trade destinations of Toronto Maple Leafs right winger Phil Kessel raised some eyebrows in Pittsburgh. Joe Starkey of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review believes acquiring Kessel is something the Penguins should consider, though he acknowledges there are significant issues working against such a move.
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