Thursday's roundup: Sabres hire Grand Haven's Dan Bylsma

By John Wawrow, Associated Press
Dan Bylsma

Buffalo, N.Y. — A week after losing out on Mike Babcock, the Buffalo Sabres went with another experienced Stanley Cup winner by hiring Dan Bylsma to become their next coach.

The hiring was announced Thursday, after the former Pittsburgh Penguins coach spent a second consecutive day meeting with Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula and general manager Tim Murray in Buffalo. The hiring was delayed briefly after the Sabres were required under NHL rules to compensate the Penguins for hiring Bylsma because he was still under contract with Pittsburgh after being relieved of his duties a year ago.

The Sabres were expected to send the Penguins a future draft pick in exchange for Bylsma, whose contract with the Penguins ran through June 2016.

Bylsma, from Grand Haven, Michigan, coached the Sidney Crosby-led Penguins to the 2009 Stanley Cup championship. He takes over a franchise coming off consecutive last-place finishes and attempting to rebuild through youth. He replaces Ted Nolan, who was fired a day after the season ended, and becomes Buffalo's third coach since Lindy Ruff was fired in February 2013.

Bylsma spent five-plus seasons in Pittsburgh, where he won a franchise-best 252 games and was the NHL's 2011 coach of the year, before being fired during front office changes a year ago.

Buffalo was forced to restart its search last week after losing out on Babcock. The former Red Wings coach turned down the Sabres' offer to instead sign with Toronto.

The hiring leaves the New Jersey Devils as the NHL's only other team with a coaching vacancy.

Bylsma and the Sabres have several connections.

The Pegulas were previously based in Pittsburgh before purchasing the Sabres in February 2011. Terry Pegula was such a Penguins fan that he named his beloved dog Sidney.

Though the Penguins enjoyed plenty of regular-season success under Bylsma, they faltered in the playoffs after winning the Cup in 2009. They were twice knocked out in the first round and reached the Eastern Conference final just once more, in 2013, when they were swept by Boston.

The Sabres have missed the playoffs in each of the past four seasons and haven't won a playoff series since 2007, when Buffalo reached the Eastern Conference final.

The Sabres have spent the past three seasons adding youth and stockpiling high draft picks. Buffalo has the No. 2 choice in the draft next month for the second consecutive year and is expected to select Boston University center Jack Eichel.

Bylsma got his NHL coaching break in February 2009 during his first season with the Penguins' Wilkes-Barre/Scranton affiliate. He was promoted to Pittsburgh to replace Michel Therrien with 25 games left in the season. The Penguins finished out 18-3-4 to make the playoffs, and then went on to clinch the franchise's third championship by defeating Detroit in Game 7 of the Cup finals.

Bylsma is a former NHL forward, who made his professional debut by playing two games with the Sabres' American Hockey League affiliate in Rochester in 1992-93. After bouncing around the minors, he eventually played parts of nine seasons with the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks before retiring in 2004.

Sharks hire DeBoer

The Sharks have officially hired former Devils and Panthers coach Peter DeBoer to replace the departed Todd McLellan.

The decision to hire DeBoer ends a lengthy search that started April 20 when the team and McLellan announced that he would not be back for an eighth season in San Jose. The departure was announced as a mutual agreement and McLellan, a former Red Wings assistant, was hired as the Oilers coach.

General manager Doug Wilson interviewed numerous candidates before deciding on DeBoer , who has coached seven seasons with the Panthers and Devils. His best season came in 2011-12 when he led New Jersey to the Stanley Cup Finals, where it lost to Los Angeles.

Ice chips

Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom has had hip surgery and the team expects him to be ready for next season.

The Capitals say the arthroscopic procedure was done Wednesday. The club adds in a statement Thursday that it is "confident" he will be "completely healthy" before the start of the 2015-16 regular season.

Backstrom led the NHL with 60 assists and was sixth in points with 78 this season, playing in all 82 games. He became the team's career assist leader and is fifth in points.

The 27-year-old player had three goals and five assists in 14 playoff games for Washington, which was eliminated by the New York Rangers in the second round.

... The Blue Jackets signed defenseman Cody Goloubef to a two-year extension through the 2016-17 season, locking him up before he could become an unrestricted free agent July 1.