The Sabres signed Lawrence Pilut to a two-year, entry-level contract on Tuesday and the 22-year-old Swede should have an immediate chance to crack the NHL roster.
Here are five things to know about the team's newest option on the blueline:
1). Award-winning: Pilut was defenseman of the year in the Swedish League and was also the recipient of the Borje Salming Trophy, given to the top Swedish-born defenseman. It's named after the Hall of Fame Toronto Maple Leafs standout who became one of the first Europeans to come to North America when he signed in 1973. Previous winners of the award, first given out in 2008, include Nashville star Mattias Ekholm (2012) and San Jose's Tim Heed (2015). Pilut led his team, HV71 Jonkopingm, in scoring with 38 points in 52 games, a figure that also topped all defensemen in the league.
2). Playoff pedigree: Pilut has played 24 postseason games in Sweden over the last three years and helped HV71 to the Swedish League championship in 2016-17. HV71 went 33-14-5 during the regular season and 12-4 in the playoffs, winning the championship series over Brynas on an overtime goal in Game Seven. The team's hope for a repeat was quickly dashed this season with a two-game sweep in the first round.
3). Lineage: Pilut's father, Larry, is a Detroit native who played collegiately at Michigan-Dearborn and Illinois-Chicago before a nine-year career as a center in the Swedish League. Larry Pilut's career high in goals was 31 with Svegs IK in 1991-92 and his career highs in both assists (42) and points (67) came in 1999-00, his final season for Tingsryds AIF.
4). Antipin is likely free: The signing of Pilut probably means the Sabres aren't going to have Victor Antipin on their roster next season. Antipin said on locker cleanout day he had not made a decision on staying in the NHL or returning to the KHL in 2018-19. Chatter on TSN earlier this month said that Antipin was leaning toward the KHL.
Pilut is getting the rookie maximum of $925,000 for his two-year deal, the same salary Antipin earned for his one year with Buffalo.
5). The lineup on D: Before they add Rasmus Dahlin with the No. 1 pick at the draft, the Sabres' defense candidates with 2018-19 cap hits currently looks like this: Rasmus Ristolainen ($5.4 million), Zach Bogosian ($5.142 million), Marco Scandella ($4 million), Nathan Beaulieu ($2.4 million), Jake McCabe ($1.6 million), Will Borgen ($864,166), Pilut ($925,000), Casey Nelson ($812,500), Brendan Guhle ($697,500), Taylor Fedun ($650,000) and Matt Tennyson ($650,000). Justin Falk is an unrestricted free agent.