The Buffalo Sabres traded Ilya Lyubushkin last night, bringing their number of defensemen on one-way contracts down to eight.
The Buffalo Sabres can opt for several different roster options before opening night. With eight defensemen still on one-way contracts, they could easily keep them all on the main roster if no one else is moved and roll with 13 forwards and two goaltenders.
Or, they could wind up going with a three goaltender rotation with 13 forwards and seven blueliners. Finally, the Sabres can also go the conventional route with 14 forwards, seven defensemen, and a pair of goaltenders. Let’s break down each combo individually.
Buffalo Sabres roster options for 2023-24
1 – 13 forwards, eight defensemen, two goaltenders
If the Buffalo Sabres don’t make any more trades and are content with keeping their current eight blueliners on the roster, then it’s likely they will roll with 13 forwards, eight blueliners, and a pair of goaltenders. We would likely see Henri Jokiharju factor in as the sixth defenseman, with Riley Stillman and Jacob Bryson rotating in on a part-time basis.
Overall, I’m not a big fan of this lineup, since, unless he’s still with the team and is enjoying a monster camp, there is no point to keep Jacob Bryson on the active roster. The Sabres would fare much better with either an extra forward or perhaps even keeping Eric Comrie in the NHL. I mean, he carries more value than Bryson, right?
2 – 13 forwards, seven defensemen, three goaltenders
If the Sabres want to go with a similar lineup that they had for most of last season, then 13 forwards and seven defensemen will make way for a third goaltender. The clear upside here is that it will ease some pressure from Devon Levi and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen as they gain much-needed experience.
It’s a rather unconventional route, as I said last season, but it wouldn’t be surprising. It’s also one I wouldn’t take much of an issue with, thanks to the current state of the forwards and defensive rotation. At least early in the season…
3 – 14 forwards, seven defensemen, two goaltenders
This is a good route to go if the Buffalo Sabres don’t want to risk borderline NHL talents like Brandon Biro and Brett Murray going through waivers. It’s also a smart idea if the Blue and Gold want to continually rotate their fourth line early, especially with the aging Kyle Okposo.
If Buffalo has enough faith in the Levi-Luukkonen tandem, and at this point, I believe they do or else they would have added another goaltender or moved someone, then this is the likeliest option. Like the second lineup listed, I don’t see any real downside here.
Source: Sabres start to loosen logjam on defense by trading Ilya Lyubushkin to Anaheim by Mike Harrington, Buffalo News