A lower-body injury prevented Buffalo Sabres defenseman Brandon Montour from skating during the third period of Canada's 6-5 win over Slovakia on Monday and will keep him off the ice for the rest of the IIHF World Championship.
Montour, whom the Sabres acquired on the eve of this season's trade deadline, was representing Canada for the first time at any tournament and was paired alongside Vegas defenseman Shea Theodore during Monday's win. Montour will return to Buffalo to be further evaluated.
"It’s disappointing to see a player like Brandon get hurt at his first world championship,” said Ron Francis, a member of the management group for Canada’s National Team. “He is a key player who brought so much to the team, and although he won’t be able to continue, we were impressed with his work ethic on and off the ice. We wish him all the best in his recovery.”
Sabres General Manager Jason Botterill, who is also part of Canada's management team for the tournament, could be forced to add an additional defenseman before Thursday's game against France since Nashville defenseman Dante Fabbro also was injured against Slovakia.
Montour's injury continues a difficult offseason for Sabres defensemen.
Lawrence Pilut (shoulder) and Zach Bogosian (hip) have already undergone surgical procedures that could force them to miss the start of this season. The Sabres can ill afford to have Montour suffer a significant injury, especially if there is truth to the rumor they could trade Rasmus Ristolainen this offseason.
Montour, 25, was acquired from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Rochester defenseman Brendan Guhle and a 2019 first-round draft pick. Though the Sabres went only 4-15-2 following the trade, Montour gives them another right-shot defenseman who can contribute at even strength and on the power play.
Montour, a second-round draft pick in 2014, helped the Ducks reach the Western Conference final with seven points in 17 playoff games during his rookie season in 2016-17. He followed with 32 points in the Ducks' run to the playoffs last season and posted a career-high 35 points between Anaheim and Buffalo in 2018-19.
Montour is under contract through the 2019-20 season and will be a restricted free agent next summer. That made him a valuable addition for Botterill prior to what could be a roster overhaul, particularly on the blue line. Though Jake McCabe is the team's only restricted free agent this offseason, Bogosian, Marco Scandella, Matt Hunwick and Casey Nelson are unrestricted next summer.
Despite adding Montour at the deadline, Botterill said during a news conference last month the Sabres have "a lot to improve on defensively." That could mean immediate personnel changes through trades or free agency. Additionally, the next coach will be tasked with implementing the type of defensive structure the Sabres lacked under Phil Housley.
In addition to those under NHL contract for next season, the Sabres have former fourth-round draft pick Will Borgen, a right-shot defenseman who had 14 points and a plus-8 rating in 71 games with Rochester. The 22-year-old had no points with a minus-5 rating in four games with the Sabres late in the season.