Buffalo Sabres Player News: All Positions

News: GM Jason Botterill's firing this week may be a good sign for Ristolainen, a favorite of coach Ralph Krueger, Mike Harrington of The Buffalo News surmises.
Impact: The Sabres had a huge shakeup this week with Botterill and a slew of other personnel sent out the door, so it looks like Krueger and Jack Eichel will be having plenty of input with new GM Kevyn Adams in terms of what the team will look like going forward. One of the games Sabres fans are forced to play each playoff-less offseason -- besides trying to guess the next GM or coach -- is to guess the fate of Ristolainen, who always seems to get mentioned in trade talks. But he's also the team's second-best defenseman after Rasmus Dahlin and fits Krueger's preferred style of play, so perhaps with the major shakeup, Risto may get a quick vote of confidence as the team sets its sights on the 2020-21 season.
News: Laaksonen agreed to terms on a three-year, entry-level contract with Buffalo on Monday.
Impact: Laaksonen -- who was selected by the Sabres in the third round of the 2017 NHL Draft -- was expected to spend the 2020-21 campaign with Finnish club Ilves, for which he notched 36 points in 92 outings over the last two years. Instead, the 20-year-old will make the jump to North America and join AHL Rochester but will likely need a year or two in the minors to further his development.
News: Hunwick (neck) will soon become an unrestricted free agent, Lance Lysowski of The Buffalo News reports.
Impact: Hunwick missed the entirety of the 2019-20 season due to a neck injury. There's been no recent word regarding his health status, but Lysowski expects the Sabres to part ways with him this offseason, especially since the Sabres run fairly deep at defense organizationally and have younger, cheaper options. Hunwick has been in the league since 2007 and has played 535 NHL games, and his career may not have much left to it.
News: With the Sabres being one of seven NHL teams that won't be part of the playoffs, Sobotka (knee) has played his last game of 2019-20 and will soon become an unrestricted free agent, Lance Lysowski of The Buffalo News reports.
Impact: The bottom liner only played in 16 games this season, logging there points and a plus-2 rating before a knee injury ended his season in November. The Sabres like what he brings to the penalty kill and re-signing him probably wouldn't prove costly, though the team is heavy on utility-type guys and at some point will have to pick and choose between a few of them in an effort to pick up some scoring elsewhere. Sobotka's career high in points is 33, achieved back in 2013-14 with the Blues.
News: With the Sabres being one of seven NHL teams that won't be part of the playoffs, Larsson has played his last game of 2019-20 and will soon become an unrestricted free agent, Lance Lysowski of The Buffalo News reports.
Impact: Lysowski surmises that GM Jason Botterill will want to retain Larsson, as the forward won't be expensive and he's always capably filled a bottom-line, penalty-killing role with they Sabres. Quietly, he's one of the team's longest tenured players after being acquired from the Wild in 2013. He reached his career high in points this season with 18 as well as a plus-8 rating, but there's not much to see here from a fantasy perspective.
News: Omark agreed to terms on a two-year deal with Geneve-Servette HC (NLA) on Thursday.
Impact: Omark has spent the past five seasons playing in the KHL for Ufa Salavat Yulayev and reached the 50-point mark in four of those campaigns. Despite the solid numbers overseas, the winger was never able to put it all together in the NHL. In 79 outings for Edmonton and Buffalo earlier in the decade, the 33-year-old notched just eight goals and 24 helpers.
News: Hutton referred to struggles with his vision during the 2019-20 season in a recent interview, Lance Lysowski of The Buffalo News reports.
Impact: The goalie was actually pretty good about not making direct excuses for what was a poor season (12-14-4 record across 31 games and a career-low .898 save percentage) that included one terrible stretch of play in which he went winless from Oct. 24 through Jan. 30. But he did reference the problem -- called convergence insufficiency -- and how he was forced to work through it (and will need to continue to do so) with various eye exercises. No matter how much of an effect the condition had on Hutton's rough campaign, he's likely to enter the 2020-21 season behind Linus Ullmark in the pecking order, though the new Ralph Krueger-led coaching staff seems to prefer more of a direct timeshare. We'll also see if the team adds another goaltender to the mix following yet another missed postseason.
News: With the Sabres being one of seven NHL teams that won't be part of the playoffs, Girgensons has played his last game of 2019-20 and will soon become an unrestricted free agent, Lance Lysowski of The Buffalo News reports.
Impact: Girgensons, the No. 14 overall pick in 2012, has turned out to be a much better player in real life than fantasy, with a high of just 30 points back in his second NHL season. But he's a good penalty killer and has a much better all-around game than the average fourth liner, so his mollified stats could make him pretty affordable in the likely event the Sabres try to lure him back with a new contract.
News: With the Sabres being one of seven NHL teams that won't be part of the playoffs, Vesey has played his last game of 2019-20 and will soon become an unrestricted free agent, Lance Lysowski of The Buffalo News reports.
Impact: Vesey didn't perform poorly, though like a lot of Sabres his production was modest and he only put up 20 points in 64 games while barely seeing any power play time. He got better as the season went along, and even though he's probably in line for a bigger salary than the $2.275 million he made in 2019-20, the Sabres seem like a decent bet to bring him back under a new deal.
News: With the Sabres being one of seven NHL teams that won't be part of the playoffs, Frolik has played his last game of 2019-20 and will soon become an unrestricted free agent, Lance Lysowski of The Buffalo News reports.
Impact: Frolik was acquired by the team from the Flames at the trade deadline, and while the team's intent to boost the penalty kill made sense, he didn't really pan out in the sworded jersey. Lysowski feels he's one of the least likely UFAs to return to Buffalo based on his lousy production in 19 games with the team (just one empty-net goal and three assists). Frolik, 32 years of age, will be coming off a season where he produced just 14 points over 57 games between two teams, so his demand won't be all that high as he hits the open market. Perhaps the Sabres will be willing to keep Frolik if a really cheap offer does the trick.
News: Okposo underwent surgery on his right knee this week. He's expected to make a full recovery in six weeks.
Impact: The Sabres are one of the seven teams that didn't qualify for the NHL's expanded playoff format, so this won't impact Okposo's availability for any contests. The 32-year-old winger finished the campaign with nine goals and 19 points in 52 games.
News: Simmonds, who is a pending unrestricted free agent, is interested in returning to Buffalo, Lance Lyskowski of The Buffalo News reports.
Impact: Simmonds was the team's big trade deadline acquisition but only saw seven games with the Sabres before the pandemic cut short the season. Buffalo is one of seven teams not to make the league's 24-team playoff, should play resume before next season. Simmonds will turn 32 in August, but the Sabres need size and toughness up front and the fit seemed to be there, even in such a limited sample size. We'll see if the two sides work something out or if another team offers up a bigger payday than Buffalo. The veteran finished his 12th NHL season with 25 points, a minus-21 rating, 145 hits and 66 PIM in 68 games between Buffalo and New Jersey.
News: Pilut (illness) has signed a contract with Traktor Chelyabinsk of the KHL, Lance Lysowski of The Buffalo News reports.
Impact: Pilut appeared in just 13 games with the Sabres this campaign, going scoreless while posting a minus-4 rating over that span, but he played pretty well in the minors, racking up six goals and 17 assists while registering a plus-4 rating in 37 AHL contests. The 24-year-old blueliner may simply think that the KHL will begin its 2020-21 season before the NHL does, in which case he'd be able to play some high-level games overseas before returning to North America for the start of the NHL campaign. That would, however, require his KHL contract to include an NHL out-clause, and at this point it remains unclear if that's the case. Either way, the Sabres are planning on issuing him a qualifying offer to retain his RFA rights, so they'll get the first crack at signing Pilut if and when he returns to North America.
News: Huglen, who's been dealing with significant problems due to a bulging disc in his back, will undergo microdiscectomy surgery this week, Lance Lysowski of The Buffalo News reports.
Impact: While no fun, bulging discs often heal without surgery, but in Huglen's case he'll require the surgical removal of abnormal material that places pressure on a nerve root or the spinal cord. This is actually good news for the Sabres' fourth-round pick from the 2019 Draft, as he finally will have a plan for a return to action. Huglen has indicated he'd like to return to action for Fargo of the USHL this season, though he also has the option to play for the University of Minnesota if he so chooses.
News: Reinhart recorded 22 goals and 28 assists in 69 games prior to the mid-March pause of play.
Impact: Despite an ugly minus-15 rating, Reinhart has returned to the 50-point plateau for the third straight season after amassing 65 last year and 50 in 2017-18. The 2014 second-overall pick routinely skates on the Sabres' top line with star Jack Eichel and former 40-goal scorer Jeff Skinner, which is an assignment that should continue to produce results for Reinhart and his owners.
News: Skinner managed just 14 goals in 59 games prior to the league suspending play in mid-March.
Impact: Just a season removed from his impressive career-best 40-goal showing, Skinner has struggled mightily to light the lamp in his 10th year in the league. His 7.7 shooting percentage, nine assists and 23 total points are all personal worsts. Somewhat shocking is the fact that Skinner hasn't found twine at all on the power play this year, where he's received ample time (2:29 per game, on average). Also, it's worth mentioning that the 27-year-old missed 10 games from Dec. 29 to Jan. 18 with an upper-body injury and only managed three goals and a lone assist in the 20 games since, so perhaps he hasn't been fully healthy. Regardless, until Skinner shows he's regained his scoring touch, owners should try to forget about the 40 goals he piled up last year.
News: Dahlin scored four goals and amassed an impressive 36 assists in 59 games prior to the suspension of play in mid-March.
Impact: The 2018 first-overall pick has had an impressive age-19 season, as he paces Buffalo's blueliners in points. Dahlin's 36 helpers are also second among Sabres behind only star forward Jack Eichel, and the minus-7 rating isn't really all that bad for a teenage rearguard on a team with a minus-22 goal differential. Owners would probably like to see Dahlin shoot the puck more (90 SOG), but he's more of puck mover anyway, so there's not much to complain about here given his age and production.
News: Redmond has agreed to a contract with Red Bull Munich in Germany's top pro league for next season, Bill Hoppe of the Olean Times Herald reports.
Impact: The 31-year-old spent the last three seasons with Buffalo's minor-league affiliate, racking up 41 goals and 127 points across 183 AHL contests over that span. The organization will miss the veteran's leadership that he displayed since coming over in a trade from Montreal, as Redmond was a mentor to some of the Sabres' top prospects. Redmond has accumulated 38 points across 133 NHL appearances in his career.