Injury could not have come at a worse time for Jake McCabe. The Buffalo Sabres defenseman had been nothing but dependable in his first five full NHL seasons, establishing himself as a solid two-way defenseman capable of shut down defense with his checking and shot-blocking as well as transitioning the puck up the ice and contributing modest offense. Entering a contract year at just 27 years old, McCabe looked prime to play a critical role again for the Sabres and then was likely to be a highly sought-after trade deadline target. That all was supposed to conclude with a considerable raise and long-term contract in free agency, from Buffalo or elsewhere.

Instead, McCabe suffered a torn ACL, MCL, and meniscus in his right knee in February, just 13 games into the season. In that small sample size, McCabe posted a Corsi For rating that held as the best possession mark on the Sabres this season. He was also on pace for a career high in hits per game. Everything was going according to plan and just like that his season was over. Not only that, but that timeline for recovery was considered six-to-eight months and history has shown that ACL injuries can take even longer to heal for hockey players. McCabe’s season was over and now the following season was in doubt. At best, McCabe will not be healthy until a month after the free agent market opens. At worst, he may not be ready to play through the first month of the season or longer.