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Sharpen Up: February 25, 2019

Here's what you need to know on Trade Deadline Day (and on a Sabres game night in Toronto)

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

It's Trade Deadline Day. The Sabres already made a splash yesterday, acquiring Brandon Montour from the Anaheim Ducks for Brendan Guhle and a first-round pick in 2019. 

We'll also have full coverage of the Sabres' morning skate from Toronto because guess what? The Sabres play the Maple Leafs tonight. The GMC Game Night show on MSG gets underway at 6:30 with faceoff set for just after 7 on MSG and WGR 550. 

Here's what you need to know.


Welcome, Brandon Montour

Montour (6'0", 193 lbs., 4/11/1994) joins the Sabres in the midst of his third NHL campaign and led Anaheim defensemen with 25 points (5+20) through 62 games this season. In 169 career NHL games, Montour has recorded 63 points (16+47) and a plus-11 rating, adding eight assists in 21 career playoff games.

"Brandon is a young, offensive-minded defenseman who can play the up-tempo style we are looking to play," said General Manager Jason Botterill. "He's a right-shot defenseman that brings additional playoff experience to our club."

The Brantford, Ontario native was named USHL Defenseman of the Year in 2014 before being selected by Anaheim in the second round (55th overall) of the 2014 NHL Draft. Montour was named to the 2014-15 Hockey East All-Rookie Team during his only season at the University of Massachusetts before turning pro. He earned consecutive AHL All-Star Game appearances in 2016 and 2017 and was named to the AHL First All-Star Team in 2016.

That's from the press release, which you can read here.

We took a closer look at Montour in a story published late last night, which you can read in full here

Regarding the long-term picture, Montour is in the first year of a two-year contract, set to become a restricted free agent in the summer of 2020. 

Montour led Anaheim defensemen with 57 points (14+43) and 286 shots in 142 games since the start of last season. He averaged a career-high 22:40 this season, third on the Ducks behind Hampus Lindholm and Cam Fowler. Last season, he tied for eighth among NHL defensemen with five power-play goals.

His willingness to jump down low in the offensive zone is supported by his average shot length, which at 44.1 feet is the sixth-lowest mark among league defensemen (minimum 30 games played), according to Rasmus Dahlin ranks eighth (44.8) while Rasmus Ristolainen ranks 17th (46.3).

What else might the Sabres do today before the 3 p.m. deadline? Stay tuned to, our social platforms and the Instigators (who will be on MSG and WGR 550 from 10 until 3) for all the news. We'll also carry Jason Botterill's press conference live. 


Today's matchup

From the Game Notes…

  • This is the second of four meetings between the Sabres and Maple Leafs this season.
  • Last meeting: Toronto defeated Buffalo 4-3 (OT) in Buffalo on Dec. 4, 2018
  • Next meeting: Saturday, March 2 in Toronto


  • Jack Eichel has totaled 13 points (8+5) in 10 career games against Toronto, including six (3+3) in five road games.
  • Sam Reinhart has recorded 13 points (5+8) in his last 13 games against the Maple Leafs, including at least a point in seven of the last eight meetings.
  • Carter Hutton is 3-0-0 against Toronto in his career with a .930 save percentage and a 1.99 goals-against average.
  • Jason Pominville (3+2) and Jeff Skinner (1+4) each enter tonight's game on four-game point streaks against the Maple Leafs.
  • Rasmus Ristolainen has recorded six assists in his last five games against Toronto.


  • The Sabres have allowed just one power-play goal in their last seven games, going 11-for-12 on the penalty kill (91.7%) during that stretch.


  • Today's game opens up Buffalo's 12th of 16 sets of back-to-back games this season, which continues tomorrow night at Philadelphia.
  • The Sabres are 6-4-1 in the first game of back-to-back sets and 5-4-2 in the second game so far this season. Buffalo's point breakdown in their previous back-to-back sets is: four points (3), three points (1), two points (4), one point (2) and zero points (1).


Wilcox is under contract

Yesterday afternoon, the Sabres signed Amerks goalie Adam Wilcox to a one-year, two-way contract with an AAV of $650,000. Wilcox will be placed on waivers with the intent to be loaned to the Rochester Americans (AHL). He was previously on an AHL deal.

Wilcox (6'0", 189 lbs., 11/26/1992) has posted a 9-7-3 record in 21 games for the Americans this season. Through two seasons with Rochester, the South St. Paul, Minnesota native has appeared in 50 games, logging a 21-14-10 record. He made his NHL debut in the 2017-18 season with Buffalo, stopping all 14 shots he faced in a relief appearance on April 7, 2018 against the Florida Panthers.

A sixth-round pick (178th overall) in the 2011 NHL Draft, Wilcox has compiled a 55-41-21 record with a .900 save percentage and a 2.87 goals-against average in 126 career AHL games. 

Before beginning his professional career, Wilcox played three seasons for the University of Minnesota, where he was named the Big Ten Player of the Year in 2013-14 and backstopped the Gophers to two Big Ten regular-season titles and one Big Ten Tournament title.

On Friday, it was announced that goaltender Jonas Johansson, a third-round pick in 2014 who had been playing for the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL, underwent successful season-ending surgery. Johansson was 18-5-2 with a 2.60 goals-against average, a .908 save percentage, and three shutouts for the Cyclones.

About Saturday afternoon

Video: Reinhart records third NHL hat trick in 5-2 win

From the Lexus Postgame Report… 

For a brief period on Saturday afternoon, it felt as though the lasting image of the game between the Buffalo Sabres and Washington Capitals might be that of Jeff Skinner down on the ice, crawling in pain after a trip forced him to fall awkwardly on his left ankle. 

Instead, the defining scene was that of hats being cleared off the ice, a nod to a memorable performance from Sam Reinhart. 

Skinner returned from his second-period scare, Reinhart recorded his third career hat trick and the Sabres brought the same desperate intensity that helped them earn a point in Tampa on Thursday, this time winning 5-2 over the reigning Stanley Cup champions.

"I thought we've done a good job the last two games for sure," Sabres captain Jack Eichel said. "I thought we've defended when we need to, we've worked hard, we played pretty desperate. 

"Obviously, two good teams, I thought we had two good performances, so I think that's something to be happy about for us. We've just got to build off of it."

Video: POSTGAME: Reinhart

Video: POSTGAME: Skinner 

Video: POSTGAME: Eichel

Video: Scott Wilson on the postgame show 

Video: POSTGAME: Housley 

Jason Pominville and Rasmus Dahlin also scored goals for the Sabres, while Eichel tallied two assists. Carter Hutton made 31 saves in his second straight start in net. 

"We just went back to work," Sabres coach Phil Housley said. "We didn't let it affect us. We know that's a very dangerous team. I thought at times we let guys get to the open, but for the most part, we were pretty solid in our checking detail. That's why we were able to get that go-ahead goal when we needed it and get that two-goal cushion."

You can read the full recap here.


Notes from Saturday 

Courtesy of @SabresPR… 

  • Saturday's win improved the Sabres to 6-2-0 in afternoon games this season.


  • With his third career hat trick, Sam Reinhart recorded his seventh career multi-goal game. He now has a career-high 16 multi-point games this season.
  • It was the Sabres' first hat trick since Oct. 20, 2018 at Los Angeles (Jeff Skinner) and the first at KeyBank Center since Dec. 15, 2017 vs. Carolina (Jack Eichel)


  • The Sabres are now 21-11-5 this season when Reinhart records a point and 30-4-7 in his career when he records at least two.
  • Reinhart now has six points (4+2) in his last five games and 32 points (10+22) in 31 home games this season.
  • He also has seven points (4+3) in his last five games against Washington, including three goals and two assists in three games against them this season.


  • Jack Eichel established a new career high in points with his first assist Saturday. He finished the game with two assists, giving him a career-best 66 points (19+47) through 58 games played this season.


  • Rasmus Dahlin's goal Saturday gives him four points (2+2) in three career games against the Capitals.
  • Matt Hunwick's assist on Reinhart's second goal was his first point as a member of the Sabres.
  • Carter Hutton recorded his fourth career assist on Reinhart's empty-net goal. It was Hutton's first assist since Jan. 7, 2017 vs. Dallas.

Academy of Hockey broadcast recap

Members of the Academy of Hockey, including former NHL players Kevyn Adams and Matt Ellis, joined Saturday's broadcast to and broke down plays in special segments throughout the game. 

Here are a few of those segments:

Video: Academy Breakdown: Thompson's Shot

Video: Academy Breakdown: Skinner's Skating 

 Video: Breaking down Dahlin's D

Video: Academy Breakdown: Linus Ullmark

Academy of Hockey director Kevyn Adams also sat down with Martin Biron for a special episode of Tablet Talk presented by Supercuts:

Video: Tablet Talk with Martin Biron and Kevyn Adams


Ariella's special day in Buffalo

Ariella, a 10-year-old girl from Fort Erie, Ont., dreams of living in Buffalo so the community gave her a special day in the Queen City:

Video: Ariella's Day in Buffalo 


More Kids Day stuff

Kennedy, our first Jr. Reporter of the season, had the chance to talk to her favorite player Jeff Skinner. To say she knows her stuff is an understatement.

Video: Jr. Reporter meets Jeff Skinner


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