Buffalo Sabres Player News: All Positions

News: Cozens (thumb) signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Sabres on Monday.
Impact: The Sabres selected Cozens with the seventh overall pick in this year's draft. The 18-year-old forward suited up for the Lethbridge Hurricanes of the WHL in 2018-19, dominating his competition to the tune of 34 goals and 84 points in 68 games. Cozens was already a longshot to make Buffalo's Opening Night roster this season, but he's now expected to be sidelined until at least mid-September due to a thumb injury he suffered during the Sabres' development camp, which all but ensures that he'll be returning to junior for the 2019-20 campaign.
News: Larsson put pen to paper on a one-year, $1.55 million contract extension with Buffalo on Friday.
Impact: Larsson -- who was handed a qualifying offer by the club -- tied himself to the Sabres for at least one more year. The 26-year-old notched 14 points in 73 games last season while slotted primarily into a bottom-six role. It should be more of the same for the Swede heading into the 2019-20 campaign with his ceiling likely in the 20-point range.
News: Sislo signed a one-year contract with the Wolfsburg Grizzlys of the DEL on Wednesday.
Impact: Sislo spent the entirety of the 2018-19 campaign with AHL Bridgeport, notching 15 points in 39 contests. The 31-year-old American has likely played his last game of professional hockey in North America. If that ends up being the case, he'll finish his NHL career having tallied five points in 42 appearances spread over three seasons.
News: The Sabres acquired Jokiharju from the Blackhawks on Tuesday in exchange for forward Alexander Nylander.
Impact: The two clubs will exchange recent first-round picks, as Jokiharju (No. 29 overall in 2017) and Nylander (No. 8 overall in 2016) swap sides. The 20-year-old blueliner made his NHL debut with Chicago in 2018-19, logging 38 games and supplying zero goals, 12 assists and 16 PIM. He'll presumably contend for a spot on Buffalo's second or third defensive pairing.
News: Johansson signed a two-year, $9 million deal ($4.5 million AAV) with the Sabres on Saturday, David Amber of Sportsnet reports.
Impact: Johansson departs Boston for Buffalo after the Bruins acquired the forward from New Jersey at the trade deadline last year. The 28-year-old found the scoresheet 30 times (13G, 17A) in the 2018-19 regular season before collecting 11 more points in 22 postseason contests. Expect Johansson to occupy a top-six role with his new club and help improve a power-play unit that ranked 16th in the NHL last season (19.5 percent).
News: Ullmark filed for salary arbitration Friday.
Impact: Ullmark split some time with fellow netminder Carter Hutton last season, logging a 15-14-5 record while sporting a 3.11 GAA and .905 save percentage over 37 appearances. Although the 25-year-old is expected to primarily serve as a backup next season, it's likely that both parties will be able to reach an agreement on a new, higher salary before the arbitration hearings.
News: Rodrigues filed for salary arbitration Friday.
Impact: Rodrigues earned $650,000 in 2018-19 after appearing in 74 games and logging nine goals, 20 assists, 168 shots and almost two more minutes of ice time per game compared to 2017-18. The 25-year-old could see another increase to his role next season as he gains more experience.
News: McCabe filed for salary arbitration Friday.
Impact: McCabe had a large role on the blue line last season, averaging just under 19 minutes of ice time over 59 games. The Sabres extended a $1.775 million qualifying offer to the 25-year-old, but he seemingly would like something different. Considering the role McCabe had with the club last season, it would be easy to see both parties reaching an agreement before the arbitration hearings.
News: Elie filed for salary arbitration Friday.
Impact: Elie didn't see much action with Buffalo last season as he only managed one assist over 16 appearances. The 24-year-old spent most of the 2018-19 season with AHL Rochester, where he accrued eight goals and six assists over 25 regular-season games.
News: Cozens had successful surgery on his injured left thumb earlier in the week and will require 2-to-3 months for recovery, the team announced Friday.
Impact: Expected to need several months to recover, Cozens could wind up missing part or all of the Sabres' training camp, which of course is not the start he wanted to his NHL career. A year ago, the 18-year-old collected 84 points with the OHL's Lethbridge Hurricanes and may be on his way back to junior for the 2019-20 season if he's unable to get healthy in time for camp.
News: Girgensons agreed to terms on a one-year, $1.6 million contract extension with the Sabres on Friday.
Impact: Girgensons will return to Buffalo hoping to improve on his 18-point campaign from a year ago, with his best season to date coming back in 2014-15 when the now 25-year-old recorded 15 goals and 15 assists in 61 games. Likely to assume a bottom-six role in 2019-20, Girgensons' fantasy value will be limited to deeper leagues.
News: Berglund agreed to terms on a one-year deal with Swedish club Djurgardens IF on Tuesday.
Impact: Berglund had a failing out with the Sabres last season after he was suspended indefinitely for failure to report and then placed on unconditional waivers. The Swede notched four points in 23 games prior to the incident and was averaging a mere 13:03 of ice time, the lowest of his NHL career. The 30-year-old will remain in his native Sweden for the 2019-20 campaign and may have played his final game in the NHL.
News: Smith signed a two-year, $1.4 million contract with Buffalo on Tuesday.
Impact: Smith saw action in 11 games for the Sabres last season, in which he tallied two goals, 18 shots and four hits while averaging just 10:39 of ice time. The winger figures to continue dividing time between the AHL and NHL this year, but will likely sit near the top of the shortlist of potential call-ups.
News: Cozens will undergo surgery to repair a thumb injury he suffered during Buffalo's prospect camp.
Impact: After being selected seventh overall at the 2019 NHL Draft, Cozens was certainly in contention to earn a roster spot for Opening Night against Pittsburgh on Oct. 3. Now the waters have muddied regarding the youngster's 2019-20 campaign. Depending on how long he is expected to be out -- the team didn't provide a recovery timeline -- the center may be best suited by returning to juniors, which would allow the Sabres to wait a year to sign him to an entry-level deal.
News: Hammond signed a one-year, $700,000 contract with the Sabres on Monday.
Impact: Hammond figures to serve as organizational depth for the Sabres, as Carter Hutton and Linus Ullmark are on hand at the NHL level. The Hamburglar has mostly been limited to an AHL role, though he actually has a very solid 2.31 GAA and .923 save percentage over 56 NHL appearances, mostly buoyed by a tremendous run with Ottawa in 2014-15.
News: Dea inked a two-year, one-way contract with Buffalo worth $1.4 million on Monday, Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports reports.
Impact: The fact that Dea's deal is one-way in nature will ensure the center gets every opportunity to earn a spot on the 23-man roster for Opening Night versus the Lightning on Oct. 3. The 25-year-old put up 17 goals and 27 assists in 46 minor-league contests with AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Springfield, but saw limited NHL action (three games). With Buffalo, Dea figures to slot into a fourth-line role, but could push for more opportunities throughout the 2019-20 campaign.
News: Gilmour agreed to terms on a one-year, one-way contract with Buffalo on Monday worth $700,000, Frank Seravalli of TSN.ca reports.
Impact: Gilmour saw action in just five NHL games with the Rangers last season, but it seems the Sabres have seen enough to warrant a one-way deal with the blueliner. With the Wolf Pack last year, the 2013 seventh-round pick racked up 20 goals and 34 helpers and will get every opportunity to secure a spot in the lineup Opening Night versus Winnipeg on Oct. 3.
News: Lazar will sign a one-year, $700,000 contract with the Sabres on Monday, Bob McKenzie of TSN reports.
Impact: Lazar hasn't lived up to his first-round billing through the first five years of his career, but the Sabres are hoping that a change of scenery will help him tap into some of that potential. Either way, Buffalo is paying the 24-year-old the league minimum salary, so this is a classic low-risk, high-reward move. Lazar spent most of the 2018-19 campaign in the minors, notching 20 goals and 41 points in 57 contests, but he'll get an opportunity to secure a spot in the Sabres' bottom six during training camp.
News: Vesey was traded to Buffalo in exchange for a third-round pick Monday.
Impact: Perhaps this trade foreshadows a bigger move coming from the Rangers, as it clears out $2.275 million in cap space just hours before free agency opens up. As for the Sabres, they're getting a solid depth forward, as Vesey has potted 50 goals over three seasons since signing with the Rangers out of Harvard. The Sabres previously wanted Vesey badly enough that they traded a third-round pick for him back in 2016 following his excellent college career and Hobey Baker Award, just to acquire his rights. Even though he ultimately signed with the Rangers, the Sabres now finally get their guy.
News: Leier (undisclosed) signed a one-year contract with Rochester of the AHL for the 2019-20 season, Jason Wolf of The Buffalo News reports.
Impact: Leier is currently recovering from an undisclosed surgery, but is expected to be ready for the upcoming season. While Leier posted a solid 42 points in 69 games last season for a couple of AHL organizations, he's viewed as more of a depth piece than anything else.
News: Pekar has been nursing a minor shoulder injury and was unable to participate in this week's development camp, Jason Wolf of The Buffalo News reports.
Impact: The fourth-rounder from 2018 has made some good progress, but injuries have slowed him down, as a broken collarbone ended his OHL season in January. Now recovered from that, the shoulder injury has come into play, though Pekar says it's nothing serious. While the center is still a couple seasons away from the Sabres, he's supposed to get his first taste of professional action this season with Rochester of the AHL. Pekar posted 14 goals and 22 helpers in 33 outings with OHL Barrie last season.
News: Cozens left Saturday's 3-on-3 tournament prematurely due to a left thumb injury, Mike Harrington of The Buffalo News reports.
Impact: The team didn't reveal any further information on the 2019 seventh overall pick following the practice, so the extent of Cozens' injury remains unclear. Either way, it's an unfortunate way for him to begin his professional career.
News: The Golden Knights will trade Miller to the Sabres in exchange for a 2021 second-round pick and a 2022 fifth-round pick, Bob McKenzie of TSN reports.
Impact: Miller will bring some additional firepower to a Sabres blue line that has been lacking depth in that area. Despite missing 17 games last season, Miller finished with 29 points and is just one season removed from a 41-point campaign. He should slot into a top-four role for the Sabres next season and will likely work on one of the power-play units as well.
News: Ullmark received a qualifying offer from Buffalo on Tuesday.
Impact: Ullmark posted a 15-14-5 record over 37 appearances in 2018-19 and is expected to serve as highly used backup to starter Carter Hutton in 2019-20.
News: Dougherty didn't earn a qualifying offer from Buffalo, and will become a free agent, Mike Harrington of The Buffalo News reports.
Impact: Dougherty hasn't been known for his offensive game to this point in his career in the minors, collecting just five goals and 38 points in 197 AHL games thus far. He will certainly get a chance elsewhere, but won't be fantasy-relevant at the NHL level next season.
News: Martin wasn't extended a qualifying offer from the Sabres, making him a free agent July 1, Mike Harrington of The Buffalo News reports
Impact: The 2014 third-round pick played exclusively in the ECHL last season, producing 28 points in 54 games in the Buffalo system. Martin won't bring fantasy-worthy production to the NHL any time soon, even if he finds a home elsewhere.
News: Cornel wasn't issued a qualifying offer from the Sabres, making him a free agent, Mike Harrington of The Buffalo News reports.
Impact: This news shouldn't come as a surprise, considering the 23-year-old has yet to make his NHL debut. Last season in the AHL, Cornel produced 22 points in 76 games. He should have some options on the open market, but won't be fantasy relevant for next campaign.
News: McCabe earned a qualifying offer from the Sabres on Tuesday.
Impact: McCabe was a key player on the blue line last season for the Sabres, averaging just under 19 minutes of ice time in 59 games. He wasn't much of a fantasy asset, however, collecting just 14 points in that span, and rarely seeing power-play time. If McCabe accepts the offer, his deal will be worth $1.775 million next season, but it's hard envisioning production at a fantasy-relevant level.
News: Smith was qualified by the Sabres on Tuesday.
Impact: Smith, 24, is one of Buffalo's brighter prospects. Last season saw the left winger collect 58 points in 62 appearances with AHL Rochester, and as a result of his promising play in the minors, Smith should see more time at the NHL level in 2019-20. Expect both team and player to hash out a deal soon that will keep Smith in Buffalo for the foreseeable future.
News: Rodrigues received a qualifying offer from Buffalo on Tuesday,
Impact: Fresh off raking in a modest $650,000 in 2018-19, Rodrigues should see a slight bump in his annual salary following his career-best, 29-point campaign with the Sabres in 2018-19. Last season saw the 25-year-old average 15:49 TOI, nearly two minutes higher than his previous career high in that category.
News: Elie received a qualifying offer from Buffalo on Tuesday.
Impact: Claimed off waivers at the beginning of last season, Elie was unable to carve out a regular role with Buffalo, picking up just a single assist over 16 appearances. Before suiting up for the Sabres, Elie spent the better part of two seasons in Dallas, collecting 21 points in 90 games with the Stars.
News: Malone was not given a qualifying offer by the Sabres on Tuesday, John Vogl of The Athletic reports.
Impact: Malone is technically still eligible to sign with any NHL club, but the center already agreed to terms on a one-year deal with AHL Rochester, which will at least keep him on the radar for team brass. If he can put together a solid campaign, the 23-year-old could earn himself an NHL deal from Buffalo next summer.
News: Larsson was given a qualifying offer by the Sabres on Tuesday, Lance Lysowski of The Buffalo News reports.
Impact: Larsson signing the qualifying offer would result in him staying with Buffalo on a one-year pact rather than testing free agency. Considering he had just 14 points in 73 games last season, Larsson's probably better off sticking with the Sabres, as the interest in him on the market would be tepid at best.
News: Girgensons received a qualifying offer from the Sabres on Tuesday, Lance Lysowski of The Buffalo News reports.
Impact: Girgensons was a solid depth player for Buffalo this season, as he notched five goals, 13 helpers and 78 shots in 72 games as a bottom-six forward. If the winger signs his offer, he would earn $1.6 million on a one-year, one-way deal, though the club might be willing to extend some extra term in order to lower Girgensons' cap hit.
News: Portillo was drafted 67th overall by the Sabres at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft on Saturday.
Impact: A massive (6-foot-6, 210 pounds) Swede who has come up through the Frolunda system that produced Rangers legend Henrik Lundqvist once upon a time, Portillo is your traditional long-term project goaltender. He will play this upcoming season with Dubuque of the USHL before heading to the University of Michigan in 2020-21.
News: Johnson was drafted 31st overall by the Sabres at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft on Friday. He was the team's second pick of the first round.
Impact: Johnson doesn't blow you away with any of his skills. But that's a good thing. He's a high-floor puck-moving defender who is effortless on blades, smart with passes and solid in his own zone. Yes, there have been turnovers, but we need to remember these guys are all kids. Johnson has untapped offensive skills, but we don't think he's going to be a fantasy force. However, every team needs strong puck movers that can also defend, and the Sabres will be thrilled if Johnson can be a healthy Ryan Murray type.
News: Cozens was drafted seventh overall by the Sabres at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft on Friday.
Impact: Cozens is big and north-south fast, and he can play both pivot and right wing. He doesn't shy away from traffic and will drive the net for a big, heavy shot. We love his work ethic -- he never takes a shift off -- and his playmaking is sublime. Some scouts have even said he reminds them a little of Ryan Getzlaf. Heady praise. Draft him as a second-line center, a little in the mold of Ryan Johansen. But don't be surprised if he ends up flanking that Jack Eichel guy. It will take time for him to grow into his 6-foot-3 body and the NHL. But look out when he does. The kid from the Yukon is going to be very good.
News: Sobotka's (upper body) contract won't be bought out according to general manager Jason Botterill, Paul Hamilton of WGR Sports Radio 550 reports.
Impact: Sobotka had a disappointing first season in Buffalo, as injuries limited him to just 69 appearances. When healthy, the 31-year-old failed to produce, as he tallied a meager five goals and eight helpers. Instead, the Sabres will hope the natural center can step up his game and earn the $3.5 million he is set to make this season.
News: Skinner signed an eight-year contract worth $72 million Friday night, Lance Lyskowski of The Buffalo News reports.
Impact: New coach Ralph Krueger must be the second happiest man in Buffalo on Friday, as 40-goal scorers aren't all that easy to come by. Skinner becomes the second-highest paid Sabre behind captain Jack Eichel, and the duo will try to lead the franchise out of a lengthy playoff drought under the new coaching staff. The Sabres did the smart thing here by figuring out a way to not let Skinner reach the official start of free agency. Oddly enough, Buffalo has the NHL's longest active playoff drought while Skinner owns the NHL's longest active games played streak (661) without appearing in a playoff game. The Sabres were willing to pay up to see if they can break those two unfortunate streaks.
News: Skinner is reportedly close to signing an eight-year contract extension with Buffalo that would carry an AAV between $8.5-9.5 million, per TSN's Bob McKenzie.
Impact: While nothing has been finizaled, keeping Skinner would be a major coup for general manager Jason Botterill and new head coach Ralph Krueger. The winger racked up a career-high 40 goals last season, along with 23 helpers, 268 shots and 16 power-play points. The Toronto native should be capable of pushing for the 70-point mark next season and figures to be a top-end fantasy option.
News: Montour suffered a sprained MCL during the 2019 IIHF World Championship, Lance Lysowski of The Buffalo News reports.
Impact: The bad news is he'll need about six weeks to recover and will miss the rest of the tournament. The good is that the injury happened early in the offseason and Montour should be fine once training camp rolls around for the Sabres. Acquired at the trade deadline, he's expected to be a main component of the team's blue line in 2019-20. He was given a key role right away by Buffalo, and his 10 points in 20 games with the Sabres far outpaced his 25 in 62 games for his previous employer in Anaheim.
News: Montour (lower body) was officially ruled out for the remainder of the 2019 IIHF World Championships on Tuesday.
Impact: This news will certainly cause fantasy owners and the Sabers some concern for Montour's status for the upcoming 2019-20 season. The second-round pick in 2014 will head back to Buffalo for further evaluation on the injury. Assuming he doesn't miss any time, the blueliner should be able to push for the 40-point mark after racking up 35 points with Anaheim and Buffalo this season.
News: Montour could be ruled out for the remainder of the 2019 IIHF World Championship due to a lower-body injury, TSN.ca reports.
Impact: Team Canada didn't provide much information on Montour's status, but fantasy owners will no doubt be more concerned with his status for the upcoming 2019-20 season. Assuming he doesn't miss any time, the blueliner should be able to push for the 40-point mark after racking up 35 points with Anaheim and Buffalo this season.
News: Reports indicating Larsson would be leaving the Sabres to return to Brynas IF (SHL) appear to be premature, as the Swedish club's general manager denied the two sides have talked, Lance Lysowski of The Buffalo News reports.
Impact: Larsson will be a restricted free agent this summer, so it's still possible he will head overseas if he doesn't land a suitable offer from Buffalo. If he does remain in the NHL, the 26-year-old figures to slot into a bottom-six role and could provide decent depth scoring.
News: Larsson will return to Brynas IF (SHL) after seven seasons in the NHL, Paul Hamilton of WGR Sports Radio 550 reports.
Impact: Larsson was set to be a restricted free agent this summer, but rather than re-sign with Buffalo, the center will head back to his native Sweden. The 26-year-old came up through the Brynas youth system before joining the senior team in 2010-11. In 331 NHL appearances, Larsson registered 32 goals, 47 assists and 164 PIM. While it seems unlikely, it's not impossible that Larsson will return to North America at some point in the future.
News: Montour suffered an undisclosed injury in Monday's World Championship clash with Slovakia, Brent Wallace of TSN.ca reports.
Impact: The obvious concern for Sabres fans is the long-term implications of Montour's injury, especially considering Zach Bogosian (hip) and Lawrence Pilut (shoulder) could miss the start of the 2019-20 campaign. After joining Buffalo at the trade deadline from Anaheim, the 24-year-old notched three goals and seven helpers in 20 appearances and figures to be a consistent contributor heading into 2019-20 if he is healthy.
News: Pilut underwent shoulder surgery Monday that will sideline him for 5-6 months.
Impact: Even on the short end of his timeline, Pilut won't be ready for Opening Night in October and could miss the first month of the season. The blueliner played in just 33 NHL games this season, in which he tallied one goal, five assists and 37 shots while averaging 17:25 of ice time. Despite his limited NHL experience, the Swede had a very good chance of making the 23-man roster coming out of camp, but now could start the 2019-20 campaign in the minors while rehabbing his injury.
News: Luukkonen (hip) has been named the 2018-19 OHL's Most Outstanding Player.
Impact: Luukkonen's North American debut was nothing short of brilliant. His numbers for Sudbury were exceptional (38-11-2, 2.50 GAA, .920 save percentage, six shutouts) and he deserved the honor. Luukkonen was also named to the World Junior Championship's all-tournament team over the holiday season. The big Finn underwent hip surgery in late April and is expected to be sidelined up to six months. Luukkonen will be in a race against time to be ready for Buffalo's training camp in September.
News: Ruotsalainen agreed to terms on a three-year, entry-level contract with Buffalo on Wednesday.
Impact: Ruotsalainen is coming off a career year with Finnish club Ilves in which he tallied 21 goals and 21 helpers in 59 games before adding another seven points in seven postseason contests. The undrafted 21-year-old will make the jump to North America ahead of the 2019-20 campaign and will certainly get a shot at a roster spot during training camp.
News: Montour will play for Team Canada at next month's IIHF World Championship in Slovakia, Lance Lysowski of The Buffalo News reports.
Impact: Besides Montour's own fine play this season -- 35 points over 82 games between the Ducks and the Sabres -- his selection should come as no surprise considering Sabres general manager Jason Botterill acquired him for a pretty steep price at the trade deadline and also happens to be part of Canada's management team for the tournament.
News: Luukkonen underwent successful hip surgery Thursday, with the Sabres goalie prospect facing a six-month recovery timetable.
Impact: As noted in this official team release, Luukkonen managed to appear in 53 games for the Sudbury Wolves of the OHL this season, adding a league-leading 38 wins and six shutouts to complement a 2.50 GAA and .920 save percentage. While it's obviously a good sign that his surgery went without a hitch, Luukkonen cannot afford any setbacks in his recovery if he is to still have a chance at participating in training camp ahead of the 2019-20 campaign.
News: Bogosian underwent hip surgery and is facing a 5-6 month recovery.
Impact: Based on his recovery time frame, Bogosian will probably miss the opening of the 2019-20 season, especially given he is unlikely to be a full participant in training camp. The defender missed the final eight games of the year due to his injury, which caused him to fall just short of the 20-point threshold. If he can avoid an extended absence at the onset of next season, the 28-year-old could challenge for 20-30 points, which gives him solid mid-range fantasy value.