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Sabres development camp roster includes 2024 top pick, multiple WNY natives

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Sabres announced the roster for their 2024 Development Camp, which kicks off Monday and continues through Thursday’s 3-on-3 tournament at Harborcenter in downtown Buffalo.

Among the selections is 2024 top pick Konsta Helenius, who Buffalo took at No. 14 overall during Friday’s first round. The Sabres’ seven other draftees from this year are also included.

In addition, four Western New York natives were named to the roster, including recent draft picks Gavin McCarthy and Patrick Geary. Undrafted invitee forwards Ryan Smith and Jak Vaarwerk, who hail from Pendleton and Clarence, respectively, will also take part in development camp.

Helenius is arguably the biggest name that will be participating at Harborcenter this year, as other top prospects like Jiri Kulich, Matt Savoie, Isak Rosen and Noah Ostlund were all not named to the roster.

The full roster is as follows:

Forwards

No. 43 – Andon Cerbone: Quinnipiac University (NCAA), undrafted invitee

No. 56 – Matteo Costantini: Western Michigan University (NCAA), 2020 fifth-round pick

No. 29 – Riley Fiddler-Schultz: Jacksonville (ECHL), undrafted invitee

No. 94 – Konsta Helenius: Jukurit (Liiga), 2024 first-round pick

No. 84 – Gustav Karlsson: Vimmerby HC (HockeyEttan), 2022 sixth-round pick

No. 82 – Brendan McMorrow: USNTDP (USHL), undrafted invitee

No. 95 – Ethan Miedema: Kingston (OHL), 2023 fourth-round pick

No. 54 – Olivier Nadeau: Jacksonville (ECHL), 2021 fourth-round pick

No. 79 – Viktor Neuchev: Rochester (AHL), 2022 third-round pick

No. 75 – Joel Ratkovic Berndtsson: FPS (Mestis) / Kristianstads IK (HockeyEttan), 2022 seventh-round pick

No. 70 – Jake Richard: University of Connecticut (NCAA), 2022 sixth-round pick

No. 88 – Stiven Sardarian: University of New Hampshire (NCAA), 2021 third-round pick

No. 83 – Ryan Smith: Tri-City (USHL), undrafted invitee

No. 45 – Jak Vaarwerk: UMass-Lowell (NCAA), undrafted invitee

No. 55 – William von Barnekow: Malmo (SHL), 2021, sixth-round pick

No. 41 – Vasily Zelenov: RB Hockey Juniors (AlpsHL), 2024 seventh-round pick

No. 46 – Brodie Ziemer: USNTDP (USHL), 2024 third-round pick

Defensemen

No. 86 – Simon-Pier Brunet: Drummondville (QMJHL), 2024 fourth-round pick

No. 71 – Patrick Geary: Michigan State University (NCAA), 2024 sixth-round pick

No. 90 – Sean Keohane: West Kelowna (BCHL) / Tri-City (USHL), 2023, sixth-round pick

No. 49 – Adam Kleber: Lincoln (USHL), 2024, second-round pick

No. 62 – Gavin McCarthy: Boston University (NCAA), 2023 third-round pick (86th overall)

No. 61 – Luke Osburn: Youngstown (USHL), 2024 fourth-round pick

No. 74 – Norwin Panocha: Chicoutimi (QMJHL), 2023 seventh-round pick

No. 64 – Max Strbak: Michigan State University (NCAA), 2023 second-round pick

Goalies

No. 35 – Ryerson Leenders: Mississauga (OHL), 2024 seventh-round pick

No. 50 – Topias Leinonen: JYP (FIN-U20) / JYP (Liiga) / KeuPa HT (Mestis), 2022 second-round pick

No. 80 – Aiden McKenna: Buffalo Jr. Sabres (OJHL), undrafted invitee

No. 34 – Scott Ratzlaff: Seattle (WHL), 2023 fifth-round pick

To see the full development camp schedule, click here.

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Adam Gorski is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team in 2022. You can find more of his work here.

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Sabres buying out Jeff Skinner, opening $7.5M in cap space

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Sabres are buying out of the remaining three seasons on forward Jeff Skinner’s contract, general manager Kevyn Adams said following the NHL Draft on Saturday in Las Vegas.

The move will provide Buffalo about $7.5 million in immediate salary cap relief, and the Sabres could have more than $30 million in cap space available for the start of free agency on Monday.

The 32-year-old Skinner was Buffalo’s highest-paid forward with an annual salary of $9 million on the eight-year contract signed in 2019. The Sabres will absorb dead salary cap charges totaling $18 million over six seasons due to the buyout. The cap charges balloon to $4.4 million in 2025 and $6.4 million in 2026 after starting at $1.4 million this coming season, and stabilize at $2.4 million for the final three years.


NHL Draft live blog: Sabres trade for tough winger, stack chips on Day 2 in Vegas

Skinner scored 153 goals, ranking 18th in team history, in 457 games with the Sabres. His best season was his first, scoring 40 in his 2018-19 contract year after being acquired in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes. After having his role reduced by coach Ralph Krueger for two seasons, Skinner revitalized his career in a top-line role under Don Granato, tallying 68 goals and 145 points over two seasons.

But Skinner regressed to produce 24 goals and 46 points in 2023-24. On top of that, Skinner’s defensive shortcomings made him a poor lineup fit for returning coach Lindy Ruff. That hastened Buffalo’s motivation to buyout the contract, along with Skinner being unwilling to waive his no movement clause to facilitate a trade.

Popular with fans and teammates, Skinner attained the dubious distinction of becoming the only player in history to skate in 1,000 NHL games without making the playoffs.

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Jonah Bronstein joined the WIVB squad in 2022 as a digital sports reporter. The Buffalonian has covered the Bills, Sabres, Bandits, Bisons, colleges, high schools and other notable sporting events in Western New York since 2005, for publications including The Associated Press, The Buffalo News, and Niagara Gazette. Read more of his work here.

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Medina’s Melanie Green wins British Women’s Amateur

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Melanie Green of Medina won the 121st Women’s Amateur Championship on Saturday in Portmarnock, Ireland.

Green, a two-time state champion for Medina and second-team All-American at South Florida, is the first American to win the R&A Women’s Amateur Championship, previously known as the British Ladies Amateur, since Kelli Kuehne in 1996.

Watch Green make the winning putt and be presented with the trophy by the captain of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews after she defeated Lorna McClymont of Milngavie, Scotland in a 36-hole match to win her debut appearance in the event with an international field of 144 players.

The victory gains Green entry into the AIG Women’s Open, US Women’s Open, Amundi Evian Championship, Chevron Championship and Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship.

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Jonah Bronstein joined the WIVB squad in 2022 as a digital sports reporter. The Buffalonian has covered the Bills, Sabres, Bandits, Bisons, colleges, high schools and other notable sporting events in Western New York since 2005, for publications including The Associated Press, The Buffalo News, and Niagara Gazette. Read more of his work here.

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Sabres add LW Beck Malenstyn, checking line penalty killer, from Caps for 2nd-rounder

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Buffalo Sabres and Washington Capitals got a head start on the second day of the NHL draft by making a trade before any selections were made.


NHL Draft live blog: Follow the Sabres selections on Day 2

The Sabres got fourth-line winger Beck Malenstyn from the Capitals for the 43rd pick in a deal completed Saturday. He gives Buffalo valuable forward depth as it tries to end the league’s longest playoff drought.

Malenstyn, 26, is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer. The Delta, British Columbia, native had 21 points in 81 games, averaging over 14 minutes of ice time during his first full season in the NHL.


Sabres keep 1st pick, draft Finnish center Konsta Helenius at No. 14

The Capitals stayed busy after trading a 2025 second-round pick to Calgary earlier in the week for winger Andrew Mangiapane. Washington also acquired high-paid center Pierre-Luc Dubois from Los Angeles last week for goaltender Darcy Kuemper. General manager Brian MacLellan might not be done because he’d like to change up his team’s mix on defense.

The latest trade of Malenstyn was just the third at the draft involving an active player after the Mangiapane move and St. Louis getting forward Alexandre Texier from Columbus for a fourth-rounder in 2025. The Blues then signed Texier to a two-year extension worth $4.2 million.

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Sabres keep pick, draft Finnish center Konsta Helenius at No. 14

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Kevyn Adams was shown working the phones on the draft floor Friday night at the Las Vegas Sphere. But after trading down a few spots beforehand, the Sabres general manager held on to the team’s first-round selection and drafted Finnish center Konsta Helenius at No. 14 overall.

Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff announced the draft choice, joined on stage by team owner Terry Pegula, general manger Kevyn Adams, and assistant GM Jerry Forton.

Ranked as the third-best international skater by NHL Central Scouting Services, the 5-foot-11, 189 pound Helenius is a “reliable, solid player with a great set of tools,” according to the scouting report. “Plays a mature game and does not shy away from the physical side of the game despite his size. A unique skater who always seems to be in the right spot at the right time. Excellent understanding of the game. His playmaking and passing game are outstanding. He is only 17 but is already a key player on his team playing professionally in Finland. Played first or second line center for Finland at the World Junior Championship showing his talent against 19-year-old opponents.”

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC – MAY 12: Robert Dowd of Great Britain (L) battles for the puck against Konsta Helenius of Finland (R) during the preliminary round match between Finland and Great Britain at Prague Arena on May 12, 2024 in Prague, Czech Republic. (Photo by Andrea Branca/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)

Helenius, who turned 18 in May, represented Finland at both the world championships and world juniors in 2024. He had an assist and a plus-2 rating in four games as the youngest player in the world championships tournament. Helenius tallied 17 goals and 30 assists in 84 games playing for his Liiga club over the past two seasons. His 47 points are the second-most by a player under the age of 18 in league history after Aleksandr Barkov, captain of the Stanley Cup champion Florida Panthers.

The 20th first-round draft choice the Sabres have made over the past 14 years, and 14th selected among the top 14 picks, Helenius is the eighth player in team history drafted No. 14 overall.

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Jonah Bronstein joined the WIVB squad in 2022 as a digital sports reporter. The Buffalonian has covered the Bills, Sabres, Bandits, Bisons, colleges, high schools and other notable sporting events in Western New York since 2005, for publications including The Associated Press, The Buffalo News, and Niagara Gazette. Read more of his work here.

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4 check: Sabres options with No. 14 pick

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — As general manager Kevyn Adams works the phones trying to make another deal that could provide immediate help to the roster, the Sabres now hold the 14th selection in the first round of the 2024 NHL draft.


Sabres slide back to pick 14, add 2nd, still ‘actively shopping’ at NHL draft

If the Buffalo does make the pick at No. 14, it will be the lowest first choice for the franchise since 2011, following the Sabres’ last playoff appearance. It also would be the 20th first-round pick Buffalo has made since the dawn of its record playoff drought, and the 14th selection in top 14 of the past 14 drafts.

The Sabres most recently picked 14th in 2021, drafting forward Isak Rosen, one of their top prospects in Rochester over the past two seasons. Zemgus Girgensons, a pending free agent who has been an alternate captain for three seasons was drafted 14th in 2012. Among the other 14th picks were a pair of defenseman who played more than 500 games for the team, Ric Selling (1977) and Jay McKee (1995), along with popular forward Brad May (1990), defensemen Kevin Haller (1989) and Calle Johansson (1985).

Here are four prospects the Sabres could consider drafting at No. 14:

Carter Yakemchuk, D, Calgary Hitmen (WHL) — A 6-foot-3, right-handed shot blue-liner with offensive ability and a mean streak, Yakemchuk checks a lot of boxes for Buffalo’s wish list. Was a finalist for WHL defenseman of the year after compiling 71 points in 66 games. Only the top D-man in the draft Zayne Parekh has a better offenisive profile than Yakemchuck. But he’ll need to improve his skating to be a quality defender in the NHL.

Stian Solberg, D, Valerenga (Norway) — The biggest hitter in the draft has been rising up draft boards since showcasing his game at the world championships and testing well at last month’s NHL Combine in Buffalo. The Sabres figure to play a more physical style under coach Lindy Ruff, and while possessing perhaps the deepest prospect pool in the league, Buffalo is lacking in that regard. Playing in Norway’s top professional league age 18, he could became first of his countrymen to be drafted in the first round.

Berkly Catton, F, Spokane Chiefs (WHL) — Similar to last year’s No. 13 pick Zach Benson in both stature (5-foot-11, 163 pounds) and offensive production (54 goals, 62 assists over 68 games) in Canadian juniors. Won 53% of his faceoffs and led the league with seven shorthanded goals. Buffalo will take the best player available regardless of lineup need or skillset duplication. So if Catton slides because of his size like Benson did a year ago, the Sabres could find themselves with another forward they deemed worthy of a top 10 pick.

Cole Eiserman, F, USNTDP — A gifted scorer whose 127 goals are the most in the history of the USA Hockey National Development Team, might have been the best player available at No. 11. Now he could be going to San Jose to play with former junior teammate, certain No. 1 pick Macklin Cellebrini. Assistant GM Jerry Forton said there is little consensus around the league of where to rank players outside of the top six prospects, so the sweet-shooting 17-year-old shouldn’t be ruled out as an option unless Sharks GM Mike Grier, the former Sabres winger, tipped his hand in trade talks.

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Jonah Bronstein joined the WIVB squad in 2022 as a digital sports reporter. The Buffalonian has covered the Bills, Sabres, Bandits, Bisons, colleges, high schools and other notable sporting events in Western New York since 2005, for publications including The Associated Press, The Buffalo News, and Niagara Gazette. Read more of his work here.

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NHL Draft live blog: Sabres own 14th pick entering Round 1

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The Buffalo Sabres enter Friday’s first round of the NHL Draft with the 14th overall selection and nine picks in total.

The latest updates from the draft — as well as other moves the Sabres make ahead of the opening of free agency on July 1 — can be seen below in our live blog. The Sabres initially had the 11th pick before trading back three spots on Thursday, netting an extra second-rounder from San Jose in the process.


Sabres ‘wide open’ to draft deal, potential Jeff Skinner buyout

Full list of Sabres 2024 draft picks

Round 1, 14th overall (from San Jose through Pittsburgh)

Round 2, 42nd overall (from San Jose through New Jersey)

Round 2, 43rd overall

Round 3, 76th overall

Round 4, 108th overall

Round 4, 109th overall (from Philadelphia)

Round 5, 161st overall (from Florida)

Round 6, 172nd overall

Round 7, 204th overall

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Sabres slide back to pick 14, add 2nd-rounder

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Sabres have repositioned themselves in the early rounds of this weekend’s NHL draft.

Buffalo moved down three spots to pick No. 14 in the first round while adding an additional second-round selection (No. 42) in a trade with the San Jose Sharks on Thursday. Obtaining the second-rounder originally owned by the New Jersey Devils, the Sabres now hold consecutive picks in the second, among their nine selections in the draft.

Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams indicated last week that the team is open to trading its first-round pick for a player who could provide more immediate help. But he also indicated that moving up or down in the draft was a possibility.

The NHL draft begins with the first round Friday night in Vegas, and will continue with six more rounds Saturday.

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Jonah Bronstein joined the WIVB squad in 2022 as a digital sports reporter. The Buffalonian has covered the Bills, Sabres, Bandits, Bisons, colleges, high schools and other notable sporting events in Western New York since 2005, for publications including The Associated Press, The Buffalo News, and Niagara Gazette. Read more of his work here.

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Sabres announce preseason schedule; includes 3 games at KeyBank Center

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Sabres announced their preseason schedule on Monday, which includes three games at KeyBank Center as part of six exhibition tilts.

Buffalo will kick off the slate on Sept. 21 at home against the Pittsburgh Penguins and will finish off the preseason on Sept. 30 against the Detroit Red Wings.

The full schedule can be seen below (all games start at 7 p.m.):

Sat., Sept. 21: vs Pittsburgh

Mon., Sept. 23: vs Columbus

Tue., Sept. 24: at Pittsburgh

Thu., Sept. 26: at Ottawa

Sat., Sept. 28: at Columbus

Mon., Sept. 30: vs Detroit

The Sabres will also play a previously announced exhibition game on Sept. 27 against Red Bull Munich out of the German Deutsche Eishockey Liga in Munich, Germany. They will continue their European trip with two regular season games against the New Jersey Devils on Oct. 4 and 5 at O2 Arena in Prague, Czechia to begin the 2024-25 season. Those games are a part of the NHL’s Global Series.

The matchup in Germany will be a homecoming for forward JJ Peterka, a native of Munich who played two youth seasons with Red Bull Munich.

The Sabres’ game against Red Bull Munich will also be the grand opening event of the German club’s new arena, SAP Garden.

WIVB Sports

Aidan Joly joined the News 4 staff in 2022. He is a graduate of Canisius College. You can see more of his work here.

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Jessica Pegula wins Berlin title to ready for Wimbeldon

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Jessica Pegula won her fifth career singles title on Sunday in Berlin, finishing her rain-delayed semifinal defeat of top seed Coco Gauff before rallying to beat Anna Kalinskaya in three sets of the Berlin Open final.

Coming days before the start of Wimbledon, where Pegula reached the quarterfinals last year, this was the first championship on grass for the world’s fifth-ranked player, born in Buffalo and daughter of Bills and Sabres owner Terry Pegula.

The 30-year-old Pegula, recently named to the U.S. Olympic team, withdrew from the French Open last month to focus on her recovery from an April neck injury.


Jessica Pegula wins Korea Open title

Pegula came back after dropping the first set 7-6 against Kalinskya to win the second set 6-4. She saved five match points to win the tiebreaker set 7-6. The semifinal was suspended Saturday with Pegula leading 7-5, 6-6 (3-1). She won four of the last five points to reach the final.

Olympic tennis starts July 27 at Roland Garros, the site of the French Open. The American team features six first-time Olympians, the U.S. Tennis Association said in Thursday’s announcement.

Gauff and Pegula have won five doubles titles as a pair. Gauff won her first major doubles title — with Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic — at the French Open this month.

Gauff, ranked No. 2 in the world, is the U.S. Open champion and has reached the semifinals at the year’s first two Grand Slams, the Australian and French Opens. She was a finalist on the Roland Garros clay in 2022 and will be a medal contender in doubles, too. Gauff tested positive for COVID-19 days before the start of the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olympics in July 2021.

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Jonah Bronstein joined the WIVB squad in 2022 as a digital sports reporter. The Buffalonian has covered the Bills, Sabres, Bandits, Bisons, colleges, high schools and other notable sporting events in Western New York since 2005, for publications including The Associated Press, The Buffalo News, and Niagara Gazette. Read more of his work here.

The Associated Press contributed.

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