Nov 26, 2011; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres defenseman Brayden McNabb (81) checks Washington Capitals right wing Mike Knuble (22) during the first period at the First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Do the Buffalo Sabres Have Room For Brayden McNabb?


It seems like it was just yesterday when Brayden McNabb made his NHL debut with the Buffalo Sabres. He instantly made his presence felt, as he laid big hit after big hit, fought and put up solid offensive numbers. McNabb showed all the physical and mental tools to be a top shutdown Dman in the NHL; but why has he only played in 25 games with the Sabres in the last two seasons?

Drafted in the 3rd round in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, McNabb started his pro career in the WHL, where he would excel with the Kootenay Ice and captain the team to a Memorial Cup. After his WHL career, McNabb moved onto the AHL, where he accumulated 30 points in 45 games with the Americans, going an astounding plus 15. Towards the end of the 2011-12 season McNabb was brought up by the Sabres, where he would impress, finishing the season with 8 points in 25 games. He most likely would have played some games this past season with the Sabres if it wasn’t for the fact he suffered a serious knee injury, which ended his season.

At 6’4” and 205 LBs, McNabb possesses the ideal frame for an NHL defenseman. Throughout his young career, McNabb has shown that he can produce offensively on a consistent basis. He has a solid shot from the point, which can be beneficial on the power play. We have also seen monstrous hits from McNabb during his short time in the NHL. When McNabb is on a mean streak, not too many forwards will want to challenge him in the corners. The only aspect of his game that needs work is in the defensive zone. McNabb has shown promise with his puck moving, but must be more consistent in order to make the jump full time to the NHL.

With the back end fully loaded for the Sabres, it will be difficult for McNabb to make the opening day roster this coming October. With Tyler Myers, Christian Ehrhoff, Henrik Tallinder, Jamie McBain, Mike Weber locks to make the team and with Mark Pysyk and Alexander Sulzer likely to secure the last two spots, it is virtually Impossible for McNabb to squeeze in the lineup. Not to mention prospects Chad Ruhwedel, and 2013 1st round picks Rasmus Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov in the mix as well.

With the start of the season vastly approaching, Brayden McNabb awaits his opportunity to play in the NHL. At this point in time it appears that McNabb will once again begin the season in Rochester. You would have to imagine the Sabres are considering moving a Dman before the start of the season due to the log jam they already have. With many Dmen under contract for the coming seasons, and some highly touted prospects soon to be ready, one may beg the question “do the Buffalo Sabres need Brayden McNabb?” Could Darcy maybe pull the trigger on the young and promising Dman?

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  • davidmuscalo

    I think McNabb will start the season in Rochester, but when (I said when, not if) Myers self destructs, he will get a chance to play for the Sabres. Also I am not so certain as you that Pysyk and Sulzer will make the team so there could also be an opportunity from that angle.

    • Jes

      No way Myers self destructs. Guys going to have an unbelievable season. Heard it here first.

      • Matt Nolan

        I could see tyre fyres blowing up if he plays his high risk high reward style of play

  • Jes

    McNabb won’t make starting line up. I believe Tallinder and Sulzer will play this year out and next years season is where we will see McNabb up full time.

    • wolfdoctor

      Yeah, but you think Talinder will be injured and a regular in the skybox.

  • wolfdoctor

    McNabb will probably start out in Rochester but be called up occasionally when injuries occur. He’ll become a full time player around the trading deadline when Sulzer and Talinder get traded for 2nd round picks.

    • Jes

      sulzer isn’t worth a 2nd rounder. and if tallinder continues his ways injuries and being a regular in the skybox he won’t garner any interest.

      • wolfdoctor

        My comment was tongue-in-cheek, but having said that do you believe Regehr was worth two 2nd rounders and Leopold a second and fifth?

  • Matt Nolan

    Our d is deep especially our prospects I thought zadorov looked great along with ruhweedle and pysyk and I’m hopeful for Brady Austin big d man who can skate as a 7th rounder he’s one to watch I was really excited two years ago when Brayden cracked our lineup I just hope he can do it there’s so many d men that he might just keep getting buried many have him listed as a top prospect of ours and while he’s good maybe I just haven’t seen enough to peg him ahead of Nikita or Rasmus I hope I’m wrong and he’s better