According to Bob McKenzie of TSN, one of the top college free agents has whittled his list down to two. Gavin Bayreuther of St. Lawrence University will decide between Buffalo and Dallas either tonight or tomorrow. The young Bayreuther was listed first by our own Brian La Rose in our look at the top free agent defensemen out of college this year.
After spending four seasons at St. Lawrence and putting solid numbers in each of them, the 22-year old will decide between two very different franchises. The Sabres are trying to end their rebuild and start competing, but have been waiting on their young talent to mesh together and start piling up wins. With another rough season, they’ll be looking for anyone to step up and join Rasmus Ristolainen and Jake McCabe on their blueline. Dallas on the other hand has crashed down to the bottom of the standings this year after being one of the NHL’s best last season. What was once a successful pipeline of talent on their back-end has dried up somewhat, and they need assets to build around going forward.
While there is no guarantee that Bayreuther would step into an NHL role right away, he will be 23 and fairly polished when he enters camp next fall. His offensive game is excellent, able to move the puck out of his own end and quarterback a powerplay. There will certainly be hiccups in his own end as he gets used to the professional pace however, a zone which he hasn’t always shown the most consistent play in. Positioning, physicality and footwork will all need some professional coaching, but he could easily develop into a NHL contributor soon enough.
After Daniel Brickley announced that he would be heading back to school for one more year, Bayreuther likely became a little more appetizing for teams looking to add from the college ranks. It will be interesting to see when the Vegas Golden Knights will enter the NCAA market, as they need to add talent in anyway they can. One would think they offer an enticing option to a young player looking for NHL playing time, though their expected struggles may scare some off.