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(Page 77 of 115)
Features

Sabres hope veterans help prospects adjust to lineup

Saturday, 08.16.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Buffalo Sabres finished 2013-14 with the fewest points in a full 82-game NHL season since the New York Islanders had the same amount, 52, in 2000-01.

Buffalo needed to rebuild, but it went beyond just bottoming out in the standings for the first part of the season. Coach Ted Nolan arrived in November and at least helped make the club's losses more competitive.

For Nolan, success next season might not be defined by wins or points, but by how some of the franchise's top young players develop at the NHL level. In an effort to help those young players, the Sabres added several veterans while expunging some bad contracts.

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Sabres expect rapid improvement after summer moves

Saturday, 08.16.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Jon Lane - NHL.com Staff Writer

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout August.

Buffalo Sabres general manager Tim Murray set the bar at his season-ending news conference in April while evaluating the NHL's worst team in 2013-14. On the job for three months, Murray made it clear that change was coming — and lots of it.

"A lot of nights, this team was hard to watch," Murray said.

It wasn't pretty. Coach Ron Rolston and GM Darcy Regier were fired following a franchise-worst 4-15-1 start. The Sabres finished last in wins (21) and points (52) and their 150 non-shootout goals was the lowest total in the expansion era. Following what he called a "completely unacceptable" season, Murray refused to buy into a five-year rebuild and accelerated the Sabres' reconstruction with the signing of five free agents on July 1.

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Offense, battle in goal highlight Sabres' five questions

Saturday, 08.16.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Jon Lane - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Buffalo Sabres weren't going to sit back and wait for their young talent to fully mature over time. General manager Tim Murray revamped the roster with the intention of escaping the Eastern Conference basement and perhaps making a little noise in the race to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The road to contention may be long and winding, but days appear brighter in Buffalo if the Sabres can answer five questions heading into the 2014-15 season:

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Sabres' Stewart seeks consistency in contract year

Saturday, 08.16.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Jon Lane - NHL.com Staff Writer

Chris Stewart doesn't care about the prophecies that the Buffalo Sabres will be vying for gifted prospects Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel at the top of the 2015 NHL Draft. Defiant enough to proclaim the Stanley Cup Playoffs a "realistic goal" for the NHL's worst team in 2013-14, he's moved past what was a disappointing season for both the franchise and the 26-year-old forward.

After scoring 15 goals and 26 points in 58 games, the lowest totals since his rookie year in 2008-09, Stewart is entering this season brimming with confidence. The sweeping changes made in Buffalo have Stewart, acquired in the trade that sent goalie Ryan Miller to the St. Louis Blues in February, primed for a bounceback season.

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Sabres hope top 10 prospects lead successful rebuild

Saturday, 08.16.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Buffalo Sabres general manager Tim Murray was a busy man the first week of August, with top prospects taking part in national junior evaluation camps in Montreal and Lake Placid, N.Y.

Those camps had teams from six nations and featured nine potential future Sabres with opportunities to play for their respective countries at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.

"It's the future," Murray told NHL.com. "It shows you the depth we have in the organization. If they all do the right things going forward, they have the chance to be National Hockey League players. It's exciting. It shows that we do have some high-end young talent in the organization."

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Ducks sign Silfverberg to one-year contract

Friday, 08.15.2014 / 1:00 PM / NHL Free Agency 2014

NHL.com

The Anaheim Ducks signed forward Jakob Silfverberg to a one-year contract, the team announced Friday.

Financial details were not disclosed, but Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reported the value of the contract to be $850,000. Silfverberg, who turns 24 years old in October, was a restricted free agent.

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Iginla in, Stastny out as Avalanche lineup changes

Friday, 08.15.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

After three seasons without making the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Colorado Avalanche welcomed a new era in 2013-14 helmed by a pair of franchise legends.

The results, with Patrick Roy and Joe Sakic in charge, were a smashing success. Colorado not only returned to the postseason, but finished with the second-most points in franchise history and won a division title for the first time since Roy and Sakic were on the roster.

Led by a collection of young stars, the Avalanche were one of the most exciting teams in the NHL. They defied analytics during the regular season before the Minnesota Wild ended their season in the Western Conference First Round.

It was an interesting offseason in Colorado. Center Paul Stastny left for the division rival St. Louis Blues on a pretty reasonable contract, and was replaced by Jarome Iginla while wunderkind Nathan MacKinnon slides over to center. P.A. Parenteau was traded to the Montreal Canadiens for Daniel Briere.

The Avalanche also acquired defenseman Brad Stuart, so it was clear they were looking for more veterans. Whether the team is improved could also be hindered by what the advanced stats-friendly crowd expects to be a precipitous regression in 2014-15.

Here's a look at the projected 2014-15 lineup for the Avalanche:

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2014 pick Bleackley heads Avalanche top 10 prospects

Friday, 08.15.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

What are the odds center Conner Bleackley becomes the fifth draft pick in five years by the Colorado Avalanche to go straight to the NHL?

As good and mature as Bleackley is as an 18-year-old, that wouldn't appear to be in the cards since Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon have the top two center positions locked up. Though Bleackley could be eased into a third-line role, there's no reason to rush him and his return as captain of the Red Deer Rebels in the Western Hockey League would appear imminent following training camp.

The bottom line here is that the right-shot pivot might be best suited in a top-six role, and the Avalanche seem well fortified in that area entering 2014-15.

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Avalanche view last season's surprise as springboard

Friday, 08.15.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout August.

Expectations are high for the Colorado Avalanche heading into 2014-15 following a remarkable turnaround that featured a surprising Central Division championship and their first appearance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2010.

The season ended with a seven-game loss to the Minnesota Wild in the Western Conference First Round, but the postseason experience was viewed as a necessary step in this young team's development.

"I think this is a big turning point for this organization," center Matt Duchene told the NHL Network. "I think you're going to start seeing the Avalanche playing deep into the spring and summer months."

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Top-six slots among five questions facing Avalanche

Friday, 08.15.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent

The Colorado Avalanche improved from the second-worst record in the NHL to third best last season under first-year coach Patrick Roy, won the Central Division and earned a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in four years. But the Avalanche won't surprise teams the way they did last season when they won their first six games and 12 of the first 13 en route to a franchise record-tying 52 wins.

Here are five questions facing the Avalanche:

1. Who will replace Paul Stastny as center on the second line? -- There are plenty of options, but the most likely is to move Calder Trophy-winner Nathan MacKinnon from right wing, where he played most of last season, to his natural center position. MacKinnon had 24 goals and 63 points while spending the majority of the time on a line with left wing Gabriel Landeskog and Stastny, who left as an unrestricted free agent to sign with the St. Louis Blues.

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Quote of the Day

I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic