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?