The Buffalo Sabres have managed to fall victim to the NHL’s agreement with the CHL yet again as they’re stuck in limbo regarding defenseman Nikita Zadorov.
Zadorov’s predicament is quite unique as Bill Hoppe reported this weekend. If you haven’t read Hoppe’s report, do it now. He did a great job digging up the information on Zadorov lacking the release from the Russian club that owns his rights which is preventing him from being sent back to London. Hoppe’s report is an all-encompassing recap of the various issues at play regarding Zadorov’s fate.
Hoppe’s report illustrates the precarious situation the Sabres are in as the CHL agreement comes into play along with the added confusion from St. Petersburg holding some control over where Zadorov can go. It leaves the Sabres with very few options.
The situation is even cloudier when you consider that the Dallas Stars were able to find a loophole that allowed them to send Julius Honka to the AHL despite selecting him from Swift Current in the AHL. This report from Defending Big D notes that Honka was loaned to Swift Current from JYP after he had signed a contract with the SM-Liga club. Because Honka was on loan with Swift Current he was considered a European skater as opposed to a North American skater. It appears this is not true for Zadorov.
What I’m unclear on – and what seems to be one of the overarching questions – is Zadorov’s status with SKA and why he wouldn’t qualify for the same loophole as Honka.
Zadorov played for CSKA Moscow prior to heading to London to play in the OHL and it would appear his rights were later traded or otherwise acquired by SKA. Based on my read of the situation I would assume that is why he wouldn’t qualify for the same exemption as Honka. I’m somewhat surprised that the Sabres haven’t tried to take the league to task on this as the situation between Zadorov and the Sabres and Honka and the Stars does share a few very similar traits. Of course, there are some stark differences as well.
Ultimately, the Sabres have been done in by the NHL/CHL agreement again and are struggling to find an out; and that’s truly the root of the issue here. Continue reading →
It only took three games for a puzzling lineup decision to grace Sabres Nation. Andrej Meszaros will be a healthy scratch against the Carolina Hurricanes as Tyson Strachan steps in for his first game as a Buffalo Sabre. Meanwhile, Cody Hodgson appears to have been moved back to center and Sam Reinhart will be centering Cody McCormick and Nicolas Deslauriers. Stop me if you’ve seen this movie before.
Buffalo’s prized first round draft pick, with full junior eligibility, will be playing on the fourth line.
Reinhart hasn’t been a world beater in his first three NHL contests and his play hasn’t warranted much in the way of continued faith that he’ll suddenly begin to produce. However, count me among those who think playing major minutes in all situations in Kootenay is preferable to a fourth line role in the NHL.
It’s only been three games, so it isn’t fair to cast much judgment on Reinhart. Simply put, he isn’t ready for a full-time NHL role. He could use a few more pounds of muscle along with improved foot speed to go along with his world-class vision. That will all come with time, especially with his ability to not only step in as Kootenay’s best forward but also because he’ll almost be guaranteed a spot on Canada’s World Junior Championship roster.
Going back to Kootenay is hardly a step back in Reinhart’s development and will ultimately be the best thing for him. Giving him a chance to start the year in Buffalo wasn’t a bad choice. Both Reinhart and the organization got to see what he brought to the table at this level and will be able to adequately identify what areas need improvement moving forward. Whether he became a Calder candidate or finished the year in Kootenay, it wasn’t a scenario where either side could lose. Although, giving him fourth line minutes is about as close as you can get. Continue reading →
The Sabres annual prospect’s scrimmage came and went last night with a sloppy 5-1 win for Team White.
In a slight change from recent years the scrimmage was held early in the week and the results on the ice reflected that change. With only two ice sessions as a group, the majority of the prospects struggled to find chemistry in a game setting. While the players with more developmental and professional experience stood out for obvious reasons, there were very few true standouts simply based on the disjointed nature of the game that took over at times.
There were some obvious bright spots as one might expect in a six-goal game although a majority of the scoring happened to be done by undrafted camp invites while the organization’s prospects contributed in other ways.
Two of the most obvious standouts were Nikita Zadorov and Rasmus Ristolainen. The two towering defensemen were split between the two squads but they were certainly noticeable when they were on the ice. Zadorov was very active joining the rush and even chipped in with an assist as his booming slapshot caught the end boards and wound up on Jerome Leduc’s tape for a tap in to open the scoring.
Zadorov’s game appeared measured to me as he was picking his spots and recovering well when he joined the rush. He might need to practice a bit more discretion at times but he continued to display the active style that has made him such an attractive prospect. Furthermore, his physical game wasn’t lacking throughout the scrimmage.
Ristolainen was as steady as you might expect a player who split the year between Buffalo and Rochester despite being fresh out of the draft. Since both teams had only five defensemen on their roster the minutes piled up for each and Ristolainen was certainly a beneficiary of that. I think he is a safe bet to pencil into a top-six spot entering training camp as his second professional season is set to begin.
The biggest star of last night’s scrimmage didn’t even see the ice after the halfway mark of the second period. Linus Ullmark was far and away the most impressive goaltender of the four who dressed last night. Continue reading →
It would appear that two games behind the bench is all that Ted Nolan needed to make some concrete decisions on the Sabres roster. A number of changes in the forward lines accompanied Nolan tipping his hand regarding the goaltenders after last weekend’s home-and-home with Toronto.
After Ryan Miller turned aside 33 shots in a 3-1 victory, Jhonas Enroth was victimized by screens and deflections in a 4-2 loss that saw the young Swede only make 22 saves. The decision to run with Miller was likely made not only due to his strong performance on Friday, but the play he has exhibited over his last five starts. Continue reading →
Something interesting happened to the Sabres in the past week. A run of injuries suffered at the tail end of the preseason created some unique roster opportunities for a handful of Sabres prospects.
Obviously the last thing any team wants is to suffer injuries. Particularly injuries to players who have been touted as key pieces to the future success of the franchise. Yet, the injuries to Joel Armia, Marcus Foligno and Nikita Zadorov aren’t going to cause the Sabres as much stress as you may originally believe.
All three players are bound to be shifted to injured reserve in order for the Sabres to meet the NHL’s roster requirements this afternoon. While it will prevent them from getting immediate ice time, they’ll have the opportunity to stay in Buffalo while they recover. Specifically for Armia and Zadorov it means spending more time with the team, working out here and just absorbing more time with the big club as they heal up. Particularly for Zadorov, that is a great benefit.
Considering it appeared as if Zadorov was destined to be returned to London, he will now get approximately two more weeks to spend with the Sabres strength and conditioning staff and I’d gather he’ll probably have the chance to get on the ice a few times as well. While it wasn’t a guarantee, I do believe that the Sabres wanted to give Zadorov a nine-game tryout prior to his injury. Assuming that was indeed the case, his nine-game cameo might just come after he’s fully recovered. Comparing the two timelines is easy enough; two weeks plus nine games > nine games. Continue reading →