Buffalo Sabres defenseman Riley Stillman was acquired during the latter stages of 2022-23, and he struggled to find traction, but that could be changing.
Last season, the Buffalo Sabres needed someone who wasn’t afraid to stand up to and hit opponents, and they tried to address the issue by acquiring Riley Stillman. Unfortunately, Stillman didn’t pan out, and opened training camp this year fighting for a spot as one of seven (or perhaps eight) men in the team’s defensive rotation.
And so far, Stillman has made his case, scoring a goal, and displaying plenty of solid work along the boards. A notable physical presence, Stillman made good use of his hands, pinning opponents, and allowing teammates to skate in to try and fetch the puck, and it was something we didn’t see often last year.
Sure, this all came against a pair of lineups that didn’t glow with much NHL-caliber talent – at least in terms of the 2023-24 season. But it’s given Stillman a chance to get more comfortable and experienced in head coach Don Granato’s system. And after a pair of solid performances, it’s what the blueliner needed.
Don’t sleep on Buffalo Sabres defenseman Riley Stillman just yet
It’s important to point out that Stillman’s perceived inability to fit in well with head coach Don Granato’s system likely came from a lack of prep time amidst a playoff race. Therefore, it would have been sensational for Stillman to have come in and immediately caught on, but it was also premature to expect him to quickly grasp Granato’s methods.
Now that he’s had a full offseason and a full training camp (barring injury, of course), Stillman has an opportunity to build on his first two preseason outings and at least become a rotational man in the system. Per Hockey Stat Cards, Stillman had the best game of all Buffalo Sabres skaters, posting a game score of 2.47. And he was one of just two players, with the other being Devon Levi, to have posted a “Great Game,” per the site.
Source: Observations: Devon Levi stellar in preseason win, delivers 19 saves for Sabres by Lance Lysowski, Buffalo News