Skip to primary navigation Skip to main content

Sabres sign defenseman Andre Benoit

by Amy Moritz

The Buffalo Sabres have signed defenseman Andre Benoit to a one-year contract. Reports on the TSN website say the deal is with $800,000.

Benoit played last season for the Colorado Avalanche scoring seven goals with 21 assists in 79 games.

He played parts of two seasons with Ottawa, while Sabres GM Tim Murray was in the Senators' front office. Benoit made his NHL debut in the 2010-11 season playing eight games with the Sens. He played in 33 games in the 2012-13 season with three goals and seven assists.

In 120 career NHL games, he has 39 points (10 goals, 29 assists) and 40 penalty minutes.

The 30-year-old is a native of St. Albert, Ontario and played five seasons with the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League.

Analyzing the Ennis contract: Value now and flexibility later

By Mike Harrington

Where does Tyler Ennis fit in with the Sabres now and in the future? Is a $4.6 million cap hit too high for him going forward for the next five years?

Interesting questions. We're here to try to provide answers.

General Manager Tim Murray acknowledged today that Ennis is the team's No. 1 center for this year, with the obvious caveat that we don't know what lies in the future (see McDavid, Connor)

"He's a part of the team," Murray said. "Is he a center, is he a winger? We've talked about that with his agent and where he fits. He fits somewhere on this team. I have to look down the road when I feel we're going to be a competitive team. Is he the No. 1 center on that team? He may not be. He may be this year and next year he may be a No. 2 left winger. It depends on what we bring in here, depends how we surround him. That's going to dictate how he fits."

Ennis had 21 goals and 22 assists last year for 43 points. He got a $23-million deal with the aforementioned cap hit of $4.6M. So courtesy of the folks at Capgeek, I got a picture of players who are comparable to Ennis cap-wise for 2014-15 and studied how they produced last year.

The list is as follows:

Audio: Murray & Reinhart on the end of development camp

By Mike Harrington

The Sabres wrapped up development camp today with two hours of 3-on-3 play. They were broken up into seven games and the Gray team won the "French Connection Cup" in the championship game with a 2-1 win over the Gold.

Mikhail Grigorenko got the winning goal for Gray and was joined by Mark Pysyk, Justin Kea, Drake Caggiula and Liam Pecoraro. The gold featured Nikita Zadorov, Hudson Fasching, Colin Jacobs, Sean Malone and Brandon Prophet.

Following the 3-on-3s, general manager Tim Murray offered his thoughts on camp, the signing of Tyler Ennis and how Ted Nolan is closing in on a coaching staff. Sam Reinhart, who took yesterday as a maintainence day, said he felt fine today.

Click below to hear from Murray and Reinhart. I'll have more thoughts on another post:

Tim Murray

Sam Reinhart

Live from final day of Sabres development camp: 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

The Buffalo Sabres conclude their development camp this morning at First Niagara Center with a three-on-three tournament from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. It is free and open to the public. 

Our latest Sabres coverage: 

General manager Tim Murray is expected to meet with the media following camp.

Follow Mike Harrington's tweets from today below:

Live Blog Live from the final day of Sabres development camp

Agent on Ennis contract: 'We haven't scratched the surface yet to what Tyler can be'

By Mike Harrington

Tyler Ennis' agent said negotiations with the Sabres went well, with both sides coming to a fair agreement on the 24-year-old's value in Buffalo's rebuilding plan. Eustace King said Ennis made it clear to the team he wanted to be a part of their solution, and that General Manager Tim Murray made it clear they wanted Ennis as well. From there, it was just a meeting of the minds until the five-year, $23-million deal was agreed upon and announced today.

"I believe that Tyler's challenge has been that he's an undersized guy his whole career but he's overcome that obstacle," King said by phone from Los Angeles. "I think Tyler is going to be like some of the smaller guys that have gone through the Buffalo Sabres over the years and gone on to great careers in the NHL. I clearly believe we haven't scratched the surface yet to what Tyler can be."

The Sabres confirmed that Ennis had signed a multi-year deal earlier today but, as per team policy, did not reveal the teams.  Murray was unavailable for comment today and will speak on Ennis' deal in his post-development camp session with reporters on Friday.

King said this contract comes in the prime of Ennis' career and that he expects his client to have peak production at ages 27-28.

Camp update: Reinhart takes a day

By Mike Harrington

Don't cue any panic buttons. It's still July. But Sam Reinhart didn't take participate in the power skating practices today at Sabres prospect camp because the team said he was taking a "maintenance day."

The team's No. 1 pick took a heavy hit from Zemgus Girgensons in Tuesday night's scrimmage and got hit three times on the first two days of camp by newcomer Jordan Samuels-Thomas as well. The Sabres said they expect Reinhart to play in Friday's 3-on-3 tournament that will close their summer development sessions.

"If there's a chance for someone to finish a check, they were certainly doing it out there," Reinhart said after Tuesday's scrimmage.

Reinhart did not show any signs of injury Tuesday and finished the scrimmage. When I asked him about being a target of physical play, Reinhart said it's something he quickly got used to in the Western Hockey League.

"Personally I embrace it," he said. "I feel it's easier to play when guys are running around out of position. Not that they were tonight by any means but I feel in the past when guys do that, I'm able to embrace the physical play and capitalize when they get out of position a little bit."

In other news, the Sabres said general manager Tim Murray would be unavailable to the media today and will speak on Tyler Ennis' new contract following tomorrow's action.

Live from Sabres development camp: Practices at 10:30 a.m.-noon & 1:30-3:30 p.m.

After an off day, the Buffalo Sabres development camp returns with two practices today at First Niagara Center: 10:30 a.m. to noon and 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. 

Our latest Sabres coverage: 

Any observations from today's practices from The News' Harrington, Nigrelli and photojournalist James P. McCoy will appear below:

Live Blog Live from Sabres development camp

Kane and Toews: Together for the long haul in The Windy City

By Mike Harrington

Kane and Toews. Toews and Kane.

They've become as synonomous with Chicago hockey just like icons such as Wrigley Field and deep dish pizza are to The Windy City itself. There was no way the Blackhawks wanted to move forward without captain Jonathan Toews and South Buffalo sniper Patrick Kane, and their eight-year, $84 million extensions that were formally discussed Wednesday keep them together in the prime of their careers.

As Mark Lazerus reports in the Sun-Times, Kane and Toews stayed flexible with their deals so the Blackhawks could keep a team around them -- and not be forced to pick one of their stars and discard the other. If either or both had demanded an annual max deal of $13.8 million, the Hawks certainly would have had tough choices to make.

The final year of the players' current deals this year will have $6.3 million cap hits, which will jump to $10.5 million apiece when the extensions kick in for 2015-16. The deals pay each player $13.8 million for the first three years, $12 million in 2018-19, followed by salaries of $9.8 million, $7 million, $6.9 million and $6.9 million.

As Chris Kuc reports in the Chicago Tribune, Kane put to rest all that social media chatter about coming home to Buffalo when he said, "It was not even really a thought to think about continuing your career anywhere else. We’re both happy that we’re locked up here for a while."

The video file at the top of this post with highlights from Wednesday's press conference in the United Center is from CSN Chicago. If you want to see the full press conference (running about 37 minutes) from the Blackhawks'  web site, click the video file below:

Sources confirm Ennis' 5-year deal that makes him No. 3 on team's salary cap chart

By Mike Harrington

The Buffalo Sabres' top returning goal scorer and most prominent restricted free agent is back in the fold for the long term.

Multiple sources confirmed to The Buffalo News early this morning that the team has re-signed center Tyler Ennis to a five-year deal worth $23 million. The deal was first noted Wednesday by NHL Network analyst and former NHL goalie Kevin Weekes. The team announced at 10 a.m. that Ennis had signed a multi-year contract.

Ennis' cap hit of $4.6 million would thus put him behind only defenseman Tyler Myers ($5.5 million) and recently re-signed winner Matt Moulson ($5 million) on the Buffalo roster.

Ennis, 24, had a career-high 21 goals and 22 assists last season in 80 games. It was the back end of a two-year, $5.625 million "bridge" contract he signed in 2012 following the expiration of his entry-level deal.

It was expected he was looking for a long-term contract this time, akin to the six-year, $25.5 million pact Cody Hodgson got last summer from former general manager Darcy Regier. Hodgson's cap hit is $4.25 million.

Off day for Sabres development camp, but not for us (or you)

Nearly 9,000 fans were at First Niagara Center Tuesday night for the Sabres development camp scrimmage. 

Here's your all-in-one stop for coverage:

This just in from this morning: 

Open practices, which are free and open to the public, resume Thursday from 10:30 to noon and 1:30 to 3:30. The camp will conclude Friday with a three-on-three tournament from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Ruhwedel gets two-year deal, leaving Ennis as lone NHL RFA

By Mike Harrington

Cross another restricted free agent off the Buffalo Sabres' to-do list as the team announced today that defenseman Chad Ruhwedel has signed a two-year contract. Terms were not disclosed. 

Ruhwedel, 24, helped Massachusetts-Lowell to a Cinderella run to the NCAA Frozen Four in Pittsburgh in 2013 and then elected to leave school when the Sabres offered him a max salary contract ($925,000) and a guaranteed NHL roster spot for the final seven games of that season.

Ruhwedel played 21 games for Buffalo last season, collecting one assist, and had four goals and 24 assists in 47 games for Rochester. His 28 points were ranked second among Amerks defensemen and his five points in the playoff series against Texas (2g, 3a) were second on the Rochester team.

He has an interesting background in hockey as a San Diego native, as my story from 2013 documents.

The last major unsigned player on the Sabres' roster is center Tyler Ennis, who is coming off a 21-goal, 43-point season that saw him make $3,062,500. Ennis is likely looking for a long-term deal in the neighborhood of the six-year, $25.5 million contract Cody Hodgson got last summer, although there's been plenty of rumblings that GM Tim Murray doesn't think much of the deal Hodgson got from Darcy Regier and won't be as loose with Ennis.

The Sabres also gave a qualifying offer to Luke Adam and have yet to sign him, although it seems far-fetched to think he would figure much in their plans at the NHL level.

UPDATE: Ruhwedel just tweeted the following....

D-camp scrimmage audio: What I say, what they said

By Mike Harrington

Here's what's going through my mind after Tuesday night's Sabres development camp scrimmage:

Goaltending: Jhonas Enroth and Michal Neuvirth could very well be one-year stopgaps. Andrey Makarov and Linus Ullmark are coming quickly, with Ullmark looking very impressive. Jonas Johansson, picked by Tim Murray this year, is a classic big goalie Murray likes too. Makarov and Nathan Lieuwen will get most of the work in Rochester this year, with Amerks coach Chadd Cassidy revealing Matt Hackett's ACL injury suffered in April in Boston will keep him out until December or maybe January. Ouch.

Defense: Rasmus Ristolainen is a stud. Period. It seems absurd to think he'd start the season in Rochester but I realize the Sabres have a crowded blueline and are in rebuilding mode. It's so crowded that Nikita Zadorov, who hits everything that moves, is almost certainly going to have return to London of the OHL.

Up front: Most of the goals in the scrimmage were by undrafted free agents. The big names (Reinhart, Grigorenko, Girgensons, Armia etc) were held off the scoresheet. Reinhart showed sick hands at spots and Brendan Lemieux was pure sandpaper. Would have loved to hear his walkoff chirpfest with Ristolainen at the end of the second period. Lemieux is definitely a chip off Dad's old block. Nick Baptiste was a rising star last year in Sudbury and found the net in the third period.

The crowd: The Sabres announced 8,725, which seemed reasonable but I couldn't figure out since there were no tickets. Some folks on Twitter noted security types with clickers when fans were cleared through wanding in the pavilion gates but whatever. The number seemed close. Instead of sitting on the high end of the 100, many fans opted for center ice in the 300s when it was opened in the first period.

Great turnout overall. All the players were talking about it. If the Sabres ever got Connor McDavid, they would almost certainly have to distribute tickets next year.

Buffalo's Justin Bailey summed it up with this tweet:

Click below to hear audio from Rochester coach Chadd Cassidy, who is running development camp, and several of the players:

Chadd Cassidy

Sam Reinhart

Rasmus Ristolainen

Mikhail Grigorenko (pre-scrimmage)

Linus Ullmark

Live from Sabres development camp scrimmage

The Buffalo Sabres' development camp scrimmage is at 7 p.m. at First Niagara Center. 

Here's an earlier post on everything you need to know for tonight's scrimmage.

Here's the development camp schedule, roster and more

Below you can monitor live Twitter updates from Mike Harrington, Taylor Nigrelli and photojournalist James P. McCoy: 

Live Blog Live from Sabres development camp scrimmage

On the air with Sirius plus links from around the NHL

By Mike Harrington

In advance of tonight's development camp scrimmage, I chatted today with Mike Ross of Sirius XM's "Hockey Today" program about the rebuilding movement in Buffalo created by GM Tim Murray. You can click below to hear that interview, which began with the show introducing the segment by playing "Sabre Dance" and click the second file to hear the final question about my quick thoughts on Ryan Miller's move to Vancouver.

Harrington on Sirius - Sabres

Harrington on Sirius - Miller

Elsewhere in the NHL:

---Nashville has signed exiled-from-Phoenix Mike Ribeiro and former Sabres center Derek Roy to one-year deals. Roy is making $1 million on his contract and will be joining his fourth team since the Sabres traded him to Dallas for Steve Ott in the summer of 2012. Roy had nine goals and 28 assists last year for St. Louis but played sparingly in the playoff series against Chicago.

---On Long Island, Sam Reinhart's older brother, Griffin, was sent back to junior last season and captained the Edmonton Oil Kings to the Memorial Cup. But he said at Islanders development camp he's ready to make the NHL this year.

----The Penguins have announced no wrist surgery for Sidney Crosby after all. 

Day Two of Sabres development camp: Scrimmage tonight at 7

The highlight of Day Two of the Sabres development camp -- and perhaps the top event of the entire week -- is tonight's 7 p.m. scrimmage at First Niagara Center. 

There is no admission charge and parking will be free in the arena ramp. Doors open at 6 p.m.

There will be three 20-minute periods with stopped time.

The Sabres will live-stream the scrimmage at, with Dan Dunleavy and Rob Ray calling the game and Brian Duff doing intermission interviews.

The public can also watch today’s game-day practices, which start at 10:15 a.m. and run until about 12:45 p.m.

Get caught up on Monday's first day of camp: 

Essential development camp info:

Reinhart thrilled to be on the ice with his first contract in tow (with AUDIO)

Sam Reinhart takes part in a drill early in Monday's Sabres development camp. (James P. McCoy/Buffalo News)
Sam Reinhart takes part in a drill early in Monday's Sabres development camp. (James P. McCoy/Buffalo News)

By Mike Harrington

The Sam Reinhart Era in Buffalo took hold a couple of weeks ago at the NHL Draft in Philadelphia. But it began for real today when the Sabres' most highly-regarded draft pick of the last 27 years took the First Niagara Center ice in front of fans for the first time Monday morning.

"It was great," Reinhart said. "It was a thrill to have that all over with and finally come here. It's a lot more comforting knowing all that's over and you can really get down to business, enjoy the week and the first experience at an NHL level. I'm just kind of taking it in stride and enjoying the process."

Reinhart showed the kind of hands befitting a No. 2 overall pick in several drills and didn't shy away from any contact. Several hundred fans were in the house for the first public workouts of the week. Reinhart spoke for a few minutes to reporters Friday night after throwing the ceremonial first pitch prior to the Bisons' game at Coca-Cola Field, then signed his three-year, entry-level contract on Saturday.

"Obviously it was really exciting and an honor for me to be signed by this organization," Reinhart said today. "I'm really thankful for that. At the end of the day, it's one step closer to my ultimate goal. And my goal is to be here next year and to make an impact. It makes me feel more comfortable and gives me some confidence out there. It doesn't change anything at the end of the day. If I continue to work and prepare for what comes ahead, I know I'll be fine."

(Aside here: Don't panic. Reinhart said "next year" a couple of times in the interview. He means the 2014-15 season).

Live from opening day of Sabres development camp

The Buffalo Sabres' development camp opens today at First Niagara Center. 

Here's today's primer of what to watch for from Mike Harrington.

Here's the development camp schedule, roster and more

And below you can monitor live Twitter updates from Harrington, Taylor Nigrelli and photojournalist James P. McCoy: 

Live Blog Live from opening of Sabres development camp

Development camp primer: What to Watch this week

Sam Reinhart's first-pitch Friday night in Coca-Cola Field ( video)

By Mike Harrington

The Sabres open their annual summer development camp today in First Niagara Center with a practice at 10:30 a.m., so be sure to look for full coverage in print and here on the blog. Everything is open to the public, including Tuesday's scrimmage at 7 p.m. and Friday morning's 3-on-3 games at 10:30 a.m. There are no on-ice public activities on Wednesday.

Click here for our photo gallery of top D-camp attractions

With the franchise's rebuild in full-speed-ahead mode, this figures to be a pretty interesting week to watch a little hockey. Or a lot, if you so choose. Here's a few things I'll be watching for:

1. Zemgus Girgensons -- Each year, there's always a player or two with NHL experience under his belt back at D-camp. (For instance, I remember Tyler Myers back at Niagara University in the summer of 2010 after he had won the Calder Trophy). It's always interesting to watch how that player carries himself now and how much others gravitate to him. It will be particularly noteworthy in the case of Girgensons, who is only 20 but played 70 NHL games and the Olympics for Latvia last season after playing 61 games in Rochester and the World Championships for his homeland in 2012-13. He is future captain material.

2. Sam Reinhart -- Every move by the new face of the franchise will be scrutinized, particularly in Tuesday night's scrimmage when we finally get to see him live in game action. The video at the top of this post recaps his night throwing the first pitch at the Bisons game on Friday, where he got a huge ovation from the crowd as he was introduced. He also unveiled his No. 23 (Farewell, Ville).

The team better have those available at The Sabres Store, and Tim Murray can knock off the he-has-to-earn-it stuff with this kid at least. He's better right now than many of the forwards who were on this team last year. He's not sniffing junior hockey again.

3. First-round picks -- The Sabres' last seven first-rounders will be at this camp. That's an astonishing achievement. The list includes Girgensons and Reinhart as well as Rasmus Ristolainen, Nikita Zadorov, Mikhail Grigorenko, Joel Armia and Mark Pysyk. Nine of the last 10 Buffalo first-rounders are still on the team, counting Tyler Myers and Tyler Ennis. The lone exception is Zack Kassian -- and he was traded for Cody Hodgson in a swap of first-rounders. You could say the Sabres have 10 No. 1 picks in their system. Pretty darn impressive. That's how you improve. The word is Grigorenko has pushed his training envelope hard, as he needed to, and is closing in on 220 pounds. Interesting.

4. Ristolainen and Zadorov -- Last year's No. 1s both had strong first seasons in the organization, with Ristolainen really blossoming in Rochester after scoring the Golden Goal for Finland at the World Juniors and Zadorov competing in the Memorial Cup for London. Both got a taste of the NHL too. Ristolainen is a good bet to make the Sabres this year. Let's see how much more advanced they are.

5. The local products -- Justin Bailey and Sean Malone were both drafted last year and participated in this camp. Bailey had 43 points in 54 games for Kitchener in the OHL last season while Malone had 20 points in 31 games in his first season at Harvard. 

6. 2014 draft picks -- They're all expected to be here, so it will be our first look at Brendan Lemieux, Eric Cornel and others.

7. Goaltenders -- Nathan Lieuwen, who was felled by a concussion late in the Sabres' season, is scheduled to take part. So are burgeoning prospects like Andrey Makarov, Linus Ullmark and Cal Peterson. And 2014 draftee Jonas Johansson. This is a make-or-break year for Jhonas Enroth and Michal Neuvirth. Lots of prospects in the pipeline.

8. Newcomers -- I'll have my eye on three in particular: University of Minnesota winger Hudson Fasching, acquired from Los Angeles at the trade deadline; winger William Carrier, a point-a-game player in the Quebec League acquired from St. Louis in the Ryan Miller/Steve Ott trade; and winger Jordan Samuels-Thomas, the intriguing college prospect acquired from Winnipeg last week who the Sabres signed to a one-year deal when he would have become a free agent in August. 

* * *

Click here for LIVE updates from Monday's first practice of development camp.

Latest FA addition: Former Canucks F Dalpe

Zac Dalpe played 55 games for Vancouver last season.

By Mike Harrington

The Sabres continued to bolster their depth today by announcing the signing of forward Zac Dalpe (right) to a one-year contract. Dalpe, 24, is a 6-foot-1, 195-pounder who had four goals and three assists last year in a career-high 55 games for Vancouver. He is predominantly a right winger.

A former second-round draft pick (45th overall by Carolina in 2008), Dalpe has appeared in 96 NHL games with the Canucks and Hurricanes. He was an All-AHL player in 2011 for Charlotte after putting up 23 goals and 57 points in 61 games.

See Dalpe's career record here.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Dalpe had a two-way contract last year with Vancouver that paid him $550,000 in the NHL and $125,000 in the AHL. He'll compete for a fourth-line spot with the Sabres at training camp and stands to be a good depth addition to fill the roster for Rochester as well.

Sabres ink Reinhart, Samuels-Thomas to entry-level deals

By Taylor Nigrelli 

The Buffalo Sabres took a baby step in the rebuilding process Saturday as the club announced it has agreed to terms with first-round draft pick Sam Reinhart.

The deal is an entry-level contract, stretching over three years and, according to a Buffalo News source, paying the maximum $925,000 per season.

The British Columbia native, whom the Sabres selected second overall in the NHL Entry Draft last month, was named the Western Hockey League’s Player of the Year for the 2013-14 season as a center for the Kootenay Ice.

“We are very excited to have Sam under contract,” said Sabres General Manager Tim Murray. “We look forward to watching him develop and become an important part of our organization in the future.”

Additionally, the Sabres agreed to a one-year deal with forward Jordan Samuels-Thomas. The two-way deal has an NHL rate of $640,000.

The Sabres acquired the rights to Samuels-Thomas Wednesday in a trade with the Winnipeg Jets. The team gave up a conditional seventh round pick in order to acquire the 24-year-old Quinnipiac University product.

Samuels-Thomas was originally drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers in the seventh round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft before the franchise moved to Winnipeg.

Both will be present for Sabres Development Camp, which opens Monday morning in First Niagara Center. 

Samuels-Thomas has tweeted the following messages about his signing:

« Older Entries
John Vogl

John Vogl

John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

@BuffNewsVogl |

About Sabres Edge

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.

@BNHarrington |

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz |