Samuelsson, 23, missed four out of the last six games before the All-Star break with upper-body injuries and was listed as day-to-day. The 2018 second-round pick finishes the 2023-24 season with one goal, six assists, seven points, and a +4 rating in 41 games.
The son of long-time Flyers blue-liner Kjell Samuelsson put up the best two-way numbers of his young career this season, the first in a seven-year, $30MM extension ($4.29MM AAV) signed in October of 2022. His 50.8% Corsi share at even strength was a career-high, and his pairing with Rasmus Dahlin has seen the most usage of any Sabres duo with 440 minutes together, per MoneyPuck.
The improvement in play is despite another injury-plagued campaign that prevented him from developing much consistency. He missed a handful of contests earlier in the season with a spattering of lower-body and undisclosed injuries, and he never played more than 14 consecutive games.
His most concerning stat remains his low games played total. Injuries limited Samuelsson to 55 contests last season, which remains his career-high since entering the league in 2021. Even if he continues developing into a top-pairing-caliber shutdown defenseman on a playoff team, his long injury history at a young age creates significant concern about his current contract, which runs through the 2029-30 season.
Samuelsson is eligible for LTIR, although the Sabres don’t need the cap relief that would provide. They remain with over $8MM in projected cap space, per CapFriendly, and could settle for placing Samuelsson on standard injured reserve to open up a roster spot if necessary.
The injury could translate into more ice time for 2019 first-round pick Ryan Johnson, who hasn’t looked out of place in his first NHL showing this year. He’s still looking for his first NHL goal through 30 games, but he has added six assists and owns a promising 52.1% Corsi share at even strength while averaging 14:33 per game.