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Nolan believes he has more to give with Sabres

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Jordan Nolan still has faint memories of his childhood in Buffalo. He was only 6 years old when his father, Ted, became coach of the Sabres prior to the 1995-96 season, but can recall putting on his Sabres jersey and coming to games at The Aud. 

Nolan put the jersey on once again on Thursday, only this time under different circumstances. He was acquired by the Sabres on waivers from the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday afternoon, leaving behind the organization that drafted him in 2009. 

Upon hearing the news, Nolan reached out to his father, currently coaching the national team in Poland. It hasn't yet been three years since Ted was relieved of his duties as Sabres coach following his second stint with the team in 2014-15, but that didn't quell his excitement for his son. 

Video: Sabres Now (9/28/17)

"He was pretty happy, pretty emotional," Nolan said. "[Buffalo] has kind of shaped our lives. My brother met his wife down in this area, I have my friends and family in this area. Buffalo's been nothing but good to our family and I guess the third time is the charm for the Nolan family here."

Nolan spends his summers in his hometown of St. Catharines, Ont., less than an hour drive from Buffalo if border traffic is light. The move to Buffalo not only brings him closer to home; it gives him a chance to make more of an impact on the ice.

Nolan became a two-time Stanley Cup champion in Los Angeles in 2012 and 2014, but he only played in 46 games last season. He admits to not having seen eye-to-eye with management, and both sides knew it was time for a change.

One coach who did believe in him was former Kings assistant Davis Payne, now an assistant on Phil Housley's coaching staff. Nolan suspected that Payne may have had something to do with Buffalo's decision to claim him.

"We talked a lot over the past few years and he knows the kind of player I am and am capable of being," Nolan said. "I think he put in a good word, and that worked out."

Nolan, a 6-foot-3-inch power forward, expects to bring an element of his physicality to the Sabres lineup. He said he believes he has more to give than what was asked of him in Los Angeles last season, and Phil Housley will give him an opportunity to prove it.


Housley said he admires Nolan's cominbation of size and skating, and expects him to come up with loose pucks as the first man in on the forecheck. Nolan practiced on a line with Jacob Josefson at center and Johan Larsson on the opposite wing, and may see his preseason debut against New York on Friday night. 

"He's got a big frame," Housley said. "I think one of the things when you watch him is that he protects the puck real well. He's hard to defend, and that can wear down defenses. We're going to try and put him in a position where he can get some offensive zone time down low in cycles and I'd like to see him get to the net front and take the goalies eyes away."

As for Payne's recommendation, Housley confirmed that his assistant coach offered some input.

"I think Davis has a good opinion obviously because he's worked with him in LA," Housley said. "He really liked Jordan as a player. Wasn't a fit in LA, certainly a fit in Buffalo for sure."


Sabres assign Baptiste to Rochester

With the addition of Nolan, the Sabres kept their training camp roster at 32 by assigning Nicholas Baptiste to camp with the Rochester Americans. Baptiste was one of the players competing for a roster spot on the right wing, along with Justin Bailey and Seth Griffith.

Baptiste played well enough in camp last season to earn his first career recall in early October, but hadn't been able to contribute much in the way off offense this fall. He scored one goal in three games at the Prospects Challenge and was held without a point in two preseason games. 

"I think Nick had a slow start in the Prospects Challenge," Housley said. "I think his game carried forward, that's why he was here up to this point. He's a big kid, he's like a power forward, but he has a knack for scoring.

"I'd just like to see him do things a little quicker, which we talked about, but certainly a future player for us and we need depth at the wing position for sure. It will be good for him to go down there and be a leader for Rochester and try to work his way back up."


Antipin plays alongside Ristolainen

Video: TRAINING CAMP: Housley

One night after scoring his first North American goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Victor Antipin practiced on a pair with Rasmus Ristolainen on Thursday. Housley said he's been impressed with how Antipin has progressed throughout camp in spite of a language barrier.

"His game against Pittsburgh last game was his best game by far," Housley said. "He defended well, he had a good stick, inside body position, good first pass and got up the ice which we want him to do."


Lines at Thursday's practice

9 Evander Kane - 15 Jack Eichel - 29 Jason Pominville
28 Zemgus Girgensons - 90 Ryan O'Reilly - 21 Kyle Okposo
26 Matt Moulson - 23 Sam Reinhart - 25 Seth Griffith
22 Johan Larsson - 10 Jacob Josefson - 17 Jordan Nolan
67 Benoit Pouliot - 44 Nicolas Deslauriers - 95 Justin Bailey

93 Victor Antipin - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
82 Nathan Beaulieu - 47 Zach Bogosian
4 Josh Gorges - 41 Justin Falk
38 Cody Goloubef - 27 Taylor Fedun
6 Marco Scandella - 5 Matt Tennyson

40 Robin Lehner
31 Chad Johnson
35 Linus Ullmark

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