Ranking the top 5 moves of the Buffalo Sabres 2023 offseason (so far)

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 15: Ilya Lyubushkin #46 of the Buffalo Sabres celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Washington Capitals during the first period of the game at Capital One Arena on March 15, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 15: Ilya Lyubushkin #46 of the Buffalo Sabres celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Washington Capitals during the first period of the game at Capital One Arena on March 15, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /
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Erik Johnson
Apr 11, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson (6) controls the puck ahead of Edmonton Oilers center Ryan McLeod (71) in the second period at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

3 – Signing Erik Johnson

While it’s far-fetched to believe all three of them will be pivotal pieces to the Buffalo Sabres lineup, either Ryan Johnson, Nikita Novikov, or Vsevolod Komarov, maybe two of them, will be future blueliners for the Blue and Gold. It was something I wanted Kevyn Adams to realize, and by signing the 35-year-old Erik Johnson as a stopgap tells me the general manager made this signing to keep the pipeline open for his prospects.

Johnson, who has immense experience and leadership qualities, is also the “Kyle Okposo-like” figure I was hoping to see Buffalo bring in to provide such a role to the defensive rotation. Even if Johnson physically isn’t what he was, his presence alone will pay dividends.

2 – Signing Connor Clifton

Connor Clifton is just 28, so he fits into the Blue and Gold’s plan for at least three seasons, and perhaps even beyond. Clifton is the big hitter who could also play top four minutes that the Sabres needed, and to top things off, he came from a division rival.

While I understand the concern that head coach Jim Montgomery sat Clifton during the playoffs, I’m not losing any sleep over it. Clifton will bring more of an edge to Buffalo that they haven’t had in a while, and he’s also playing alongside one of the fastest-rising blueliners in hockey.