Though it has been expected for several weeks, the Buffalo Sabres finally announced that they have officially signed defenseman Lawrence Pilut to a two-year entry-level contract. Pilut has played the last several seasons with HV71 of the SHL, where he was named Defenseman of the Year in 2017-18.
Pilut, 22, immediately adds a good helping of skill into the Buffalo defense corps, something it has been sorely missing over the last few seasons. While there’s no guarantee he’ll be able to handle the grind of the North American game, he certainly proved himself a capable hockey playing during several years in Sweden. This season, he recorded 38 points in 52 games and was a dynamic puck-mover for HV71. That comes a year after taking home the SHL Championship, though he didn’t play quite as large of a role on that team.
With Josh Gorges and Justin Falk heading for unrestricted free agency, and rumors swirling about a potential return to the KHL for Victor Antipin, the Sabres depth on the left side of their defense has taken a big hit. Though Brendan Guhle is expected to push for a full-time position at camp, adding Pilut to the mix only strengthens the group overall. Even if he needs to start at the AHL level the team has already started the process of improving their back end, a crucial goal for GM Jason Botterill this summer.