Buffalo Sabres Roster: One Defensive Spot Left


With the Buffalo Sabres signing Cody Franson, it looks as if the Sabres top-4 defensemen are locked. Franson will likely be joining Zach Bogosian, Josh Gorges and Rasmus Ristolainen. Assuming the Sabres dress 6 defensemen, there is only one spot left. I say one because there is no doubt in my mind that Mark Pysyk should be a full-time NHLer.

Related – Predicting The Top Scoring Defenseman

So, who will be the 6th defenseman? There are four candidates that have a chance to take the last spot. Mike Weber, Jake McCabe, Matt Donovan and Carlo Colaiacovo will enter training camp fighting for this one position.

To play devil’s advocate, yes, there is a chance that someone beats out Pysyk, but we’re talking slim to none. He’s a perfect bottom pair defenseman because he’s a good skater, shuts down players and he’s young, so he can ease his way into the NHL.

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Who has the upper hand? Who has the best chance of proving themselves through camp and preseason games? Let’s take a look.

Mike Weber

Mike Weber is a heart and soul player that is tough to play against, especially against the boards and in front of the net. He will sell out to block shots and he will drop the mitts with someone messing with his teammates. With players like Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart and likely his partner, Mark Pysyk, having someone who is willing to throw some haymakers can have a positive effect in a team’s chemistry. Having Mike Weber riding shotgun for a lot of the skill players may not be the flashiest choice, but you know what you’re going to get with Weber.

Jake McCabe

Jake McCabe raised the eyebrows of Sabres management, coaching staff, us writers, and fans all over with his performance during the Sabres Development Camp. McCabe looked crisp, confident, and a step ahead of everyone else in July, but I want to remind everyone that it was against a lot of younger, less experienced players. He should have stood out and he did. His fluid skating, ability to move the puck and his vision are the keys to his success while his defensive game is sound and his board play is adequate. He can compliment Pysyk with a solid partner that can play a two way game and will give the bottom pair the ability to help out offensively.

Matt Donovan

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  • As I stated in my previous article, I like Matt Donovan. He is more like McCabe than Weber in the sense that Donovan is a two-way defenseman. He can take care of business in his own end, but can also contribute offensively. He is more of a passer than a heavy shooter, but his vision and ability can match up well with Pysyk’s stay at home mentality.

    Carlo Colaiacovo

    Colaiacovo signed a one year contract worth $900K with the Sabres this summer. GM Tim Murray was out looking for more depth and this veteran can be a solid addition into the lineup when needed. I believe Colaiacovo has the least chance of them all to make the top-6, but he does play like Pysyk. This isn’t a bad thing because Pysyk is a rookie and there is always the chance that he will go through a rough patch. Colaiacovo is a good skater and does well in one on one situations.

    Who will win the position? My prediction is Mike Weber. He is a veteran that can really help Pysyk on and off the ice. He can let Pysyk develop his offensive game and let him know Weber is a defensive defenseman and he will likely be there to cover for him. Realistically, I wouldn’t be surprised if all four of these players saw time with the Sabres.

    It is correct to assume as training camp progresses, we will see who has taken the lead in the race for the last defensive position. The Sabres coaching staff will likely rotate Pysyk between the four to see who has the best chemistry with him throughout training camp. It may not be the flashiest story going into training camp, but it is crucial to find the right person to fill out the top-6. If the Sabres want success, they first must take care of business defensively as a team.

    Next: Buffalo Sabres Opponent Outlook: Carolina Hurricanes

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