The injury that prevented Buffalo Sabres defenseman Brandon Montour from competing in the duration of the IIHF World Championship should not keep him off the ice for training camp this fall.
The Sabres announced Thursday that Montour sustained a medial collateral ligament sprain during Canada's 6-5 win over Slovakia early this week and is expected to require six weeks to recover. Though the injury prevented Montour from completing his first tournament representing Canada, he should not miss training camp or any regular season games.
That is welcome news for the Sabres after they learned defensemen Zach Bogosian (hip) and Lawrence Pilut (shoulder) won't be ready for the start of the season after undergoing surgical procedures 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 General Manager Jason Botterill prior to what could be a roster overhaul. 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 the good news, Botterill may face with a predicament. Rasmus Ristolainen, also a right-shot defenseman, could be the Sabres' most valuable trade chip. Trading Ristolainen would help Buffalo acquire a top-six forward without sacrificing a large chunk of their $23 million in projected cap space.
However, coach Ralph Krueger would likely have trouble distributing Ristolainen ice time – the 24-year-old led the team with 24 minutes, 38 seconds per game this past season – without Bogosian available.
Yet, Botterill did not seem panicked Wednesday when asked if he thought he needed to add to the defense through free agency or trade, citing the presence of prospects Will Borgen, Jacob Bryson and Casey Fitzgerald.
Borgen is 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.
Bryson has yet to play a professional game after signing his entry-level contract in March, and Fitzgerald appeared in only four regular-season games with the Amerks.