Buffalo Sabres defenseman Jacob Bryson looked poised to take the next step in 2022-23, but instead, he moved backward, placing his job in peril.
Jacob Bryson is one player the Buffalo Sabres were hoping to develop into at least a serviceable defenseman but unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case. This isn’t to say Bryson was bad in every facet of the game, as he has his respective strengths, but at this point, it would be tough to see the Blue and Gold keeping Bryson on the roster when the regular season rolls around.
Despite the meager outlook, you can make a case for Bryson to stick around, as small as that case will likely be. Keep reading to gain more insight into Bryson’s strengths and why he could be worth keeping, and also why his time in the Queen City should be up.
Why the Buffalo Sabres should keep Jacob Bryson
At first glance, there is nothing to like about Bryson’s statistics, but he did block 69 shot attempts in 59 contests, giving him a career high 1.17 blocks per game. This tells me that he knows where the puck is, and he also has the skating ability to put himself between the net and a shot on goal.
He’s also great with exiting the defensive zone and setting up potential scoring sequences offensively. While Bryson didn’t look great by any means last season, he does have a few assets to his game that are worth mentioning.
Why the Sabres shouldn’t keep Bryson
For one, Bryson can’t play in a Top 4 role, even for a small duration, something he proved time and again last season. And despite his number of blocks, it wasn’t anywhere near enough for his upside to supersede his overall downside, as the Sabres allowed 62 of their 300 goals with him on the ice – and remember, Bryson only played in 59 games.
There were times when the Sabres were forced to line him up in the Top 4 beside either Rasmus Dahlin or Owen Power. And even they couldn’t hide Bryson’s sheer incompetence. Check out the following quote for just how bad he was lining up alongside two of Buffalo’s three best defensemen:
"“During the 13 games in which Bryson was asked to skate 18 or more minutes, the Sabres were outscored 16-5 at 5-on-5 and amassed a 5-7-1 record. When Bryson was on the ice with Dahlin or Power this season, Buffalo had a negative-16 goal differential.” – Lance Lysowski, via Buffalo News"
What will the Sabres likely do?
At this point, the Blue and Gold have two likely options: Either trade Bryson elsewhere or put him in Rochester and take the penalty. Let him compete with the likes of Kale Clague, Ryan Johnson, Jeremy Davies, and Nikita Novikov for ice time, and let him walk following the season.
Unless injuries strike the blue line, and even then it would be a stretch, we shouldn’t see Jacob Bryson in a Buffalo Sabres uniform this season. If I were to rank the team’s Bottom 4 defensemen, Bryson would currently reside in last place.
Source: How the Sabres might solve their surplus on defense before the season begins by Lance Lysowski, Buffalo News