In reviewing at the Buffalo Sabres’ defensive depth chart, it’s hard to believe just how much it has changed in such a short period of time. Since the 2019 trade deadline, Jason Botterill has made that position group his top priority. In his end of the season press conference, he made it a point to mention that he expected more out of his team’s play in their own end.
“I just think we still have a lot to improve on defensively,” Botterill said. “It’s why we went out to get a Brandon Montour. There’s things we need to work on from a structural standpoint defensively, but I still think we need to move pucks out of our D-zone quicker and spend less time in our own D-zone.”
He didn’t stop with the Montour acquisition. Just days before start of free agency, he acquired right-shot defenseman, Colin Miller via trade with the Vegas Golden Knights. Yesterday, he finalized another addition on the right side by trading polarizing prospect, Alex Nylander to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for 20-year-old blueliner, Henri Jokiharju.
Even prior to yesterday’s trade, there appeared to be a logjam on the Sabres’ defense. Sure, injuries to Zach Bogosian and Lawrence Pilut could cause them to miss the beginning of the season, but having 10 (arguably 11) NHL defensemen under contract still seemed excessive. Now that they’ve added yet another asset on the right side, trade speculation has been reignited, especially considering the team’s remaining needs up front.