Sabres General Manager Kevyn Adams will have to look at external options to fill the club's need for a veteran defenseman.
Defenseman Jake McCabe, a second-round draft choice of the Sabres in 2012, is leaving Buffalo after signing a four-year, $16 million contract with the Chicago Blackhawks when free agency opened Wednesday.
McCabe, 27, had his 2020-21 season cut short at only 13 games after suffering a knee injury that required surgery to repair his ACL, MCL and meniscus. He was playing the best hockey of his career.
Among defense pairs to play at least 125 minutes at 5-on-5 together in 2020-21, McCabe and Rasmus Ristolainen ranked 16th in limiting on-ice shot quality, according to Evolving-Hockey.com. McCabe is strong on the penalty kill and provides a physical presence on the blue line.
Across eight seasons, McCabe has 18 goals and 77 points while averaging 19:15 of ice time. Since the start of the 2015-16 season, McCabe ranked second on the Sabres in penalty-kill ice time and blocked shots, and third in hits. Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, who was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers last Friday, is the only Sabre to play more on the penalty kill and block more shots during that span.
Additionally, former Sabres goalie Carter Hutton signed a one-year, $750,000 contract with the Arizona Coyotes. Hutton, 35, had a .902 save percentage and 3.12 goals-against average in 94 games across three seasons in Buffalo.