January 15: Not only will Nelson be absent this season, but his playing career has ended. The defenseman has announced his retirement on Instagram, ending any speculation on his future in Buffalo. The 28-year-old will finish his career with 93 NHL games and 18 points.
December 27: The deadline for players to opt out of the upcoming season has come and gone with only one player exercising the option to do so. TSN’s Darren Dreger reports (Twitter link) that Sabres defenseman Casey Nelson has elected not to play this season due to concerns surrounding the ongoing pandemic. It is not known at this point if this is precautionary or if there is a pre-existing condition that could be worsened if he contracted the virus. If it’s the latter, Buffalo will still be required to pay him.
The 28-year-old re-signed with Buffalo on a one-year, two-way deal back in October. He spent all of last season with their AHL affiliate in Rochester, picking up four goals and eight assists in 48 games. Nelson last saw NHL action back in 2018-19 when he got into 38 games with Buffalo and has 93 career NHL contests under his belt, all with Buffalo. As a result, he would have been a candidate to be on their taxi squad.
The Sabres will now have the option to toll Nelson’s contract. If they do, his deal will roll over to the 2021-22 season with his NHL salary being boosted from $700K to $750K to account for the pending increase in the minimum salary. If not, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent again next offseason.