Pilut returns to the ice for the Amerks

Lawrence Pilut played Friday night in Rochester on a pair with Will Borgen

Joe DiBiase
October 19, 2019 - 12:07 am
Lawrence Pilut

Photo: Timothy T. Ludwig - USA TODAY Sports


Lawrence Pilut was back on the ice on Friday night as he played for the Rochester Americans against the Cleveland Monsters at Blue Cross Arena.

It was the defenseman's first game action since Game 3 of the Calder Cup Playoffs last season against the Toronto Marlies. In that game, Pilut ended up taking a hit that injured his shoulder and forced him to miss some action. He was able to finish the game, but the injury was enough to force Pilut into undergoing offseason surgery.

Pilut ended up playing on a defensive pair with fellow defensive prospect Will Borgen, and finished the night with three shots on goal and a minus-1 rating. 

It makes total sense that Pilut starts the season in the American Hockey League as he gets back into the swing of things following offseason surgery. However, at some point, the Sabres should want to get him in their lineup in Buffalo.

Pilut was one of the Sabres' better defenseman last year, and Rasmus Ristolainen has never played better than when playing with the 23-year-old Swede. 

Pilut was consistently a positive expected-goals-for player in the National Hockey League. He was one of the Sabres' most consistent breakout passers from his own end, and is exactly the type of modern NHL defenseman that the Sabres are trying to mold their blue line into.

The question becomes, will there be room in the lineup for Pilut? 

There is no question that Pilut is one of the Sabres' best-six defenseman, but NHL teams often take the east route of scratching/sending down young, cheap players over veterans. With so many NHL caliber defenseman in the organization, and a young player like Henri Jokiharju already carving out his own spot on the Sabres roster, it seems unlikely that the Sabres will bring up Pilut, regardless of if he's earned it.

Adding Pilut to an already crowded blueline gives the Sabres all the more reason to swing a trade. There's no need to have roughly a dozen NHL defenseman in your organization. Depth is nice, but what the Sabres have now is overkill.

Despite Rasmus Ristolainen's marginally improved play this season, he is the player that still makes the most sense for a deal. It comes down to value, and the fact that Ristolainen seemingly wanted out in the offseason makes it more logical. Maybe trading Ristolainen could help open the door for a good young player like Pilut to get some minutes in the NHL.

However, what could make a trade like that complicated is the depth of players on the blue line that are right-handed shots and who can play on the right side. Luckily, Pilut is a defenseman who can play on his off-side, but he hasn't played much on the right side since coming to North America last year.

We still have yet to mention Zach Bogosian, who is still recovering from offseason hip surgery. The original recovery period was listed at 5-6 months when it was announced that he would have surgery in April. It has been nearly six months since his surgery, and head coach Ralph Krueger did say before the season that Bogosian did have a few setbacks in his recovery over the summer. At this point, who knows when he may come back.

One player who will be returning soon from injury is Brandon Montour, who is currently recovering from a hand injury suffered in the preseason. That's another body on the blue line that will make an upcoming roster decision for the Sabres that much more difficult.

We'll see how the Sabres decide to go about their defensive depth as more bodies return to the lineup in Buffalo and Rochester.

In a roster move made on Friday, the Sabres have sent forward Curtis Lazar back to Rochester. Lazar did not play for the Sabres while up from the AHL, but he was on the west coast trip while Conor Sheary recovered from his upper-body injury. With Sheary back, and again scoring, Evan Rodrigues is serving as the extra forward, freeing Lazar up to return to the Amerks.

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