The Buffalo Sabres are struggling with injuries on the blue line right now.
Upper-body injuries have taken Marco Scandella (six games), Jake McCabe (four games) and Casey Nelson (one game) out of the lineup.
Matt Hunwick still hasn’t made his Buffalo debut, missing 30 games with a neck injury.
All of these injuries have forced the Sabres to get creative on defense.
The team finally called up 22-year-old Lawrence Pilut from the Rochester Americans, and Pilut has been a pleasant surprise.
This past Friday, the Sabres then recalled Matt Tennyson from Rochester - his fourth recall of the season.
While not a surprise, Tennyson’s addition to the lineup may have hurt more than it helped.
Tennyson was a minus-2 and looked lost at times during Saturday’s loss to the Flyers, after being on the ice for Philadephia’s fourth and sixth goals of the game. He played 11:46 total and had two hits, one blocked shot and one shot. He played a shaky game, didn’t produce and slipped up (at least) twice, which resulted in the Flyers’ goals.
The hope is, of course, that Scandella would be ready for the Sabres’ next game, which is against the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday. But if not, does the team keep Tennyson up?
What are their other options?
First, there’s Brendan Guhle. He is young (21) and fresh and while he hasn’t gotten his legs at the NHL level yet, it certainly appears he’d be a better option than Tennyson. In 22 game this season with the Amerks, Guhle has 12 points, including 10 assists, and 51 shots on goal. Four of his assists have come on the power play.
Guhle has appeared in 21 NHL games in his young career, with five assists in that stretch. His last game with the Sabres was April 7, 2018.
Another option that some have suggested: Zach Redmond. He’s on an AHL-only contract, so if the Sabres wanted to call him up, they’d have to sign him to a contract first. Redmond has been great with the Amerks this season, leading the league in scoring among defensemen (23 points), with six game-winning goals and a plus-5.
But Redmond an AHL player, by some opinions. He hasn’t proven himself at the NHL level and just because a player is good in the minors, doesn’t automatically translate to success at the higher levels. Redmond’s last NHL game was November 7, 2017 with the Sabres.
Will Borgen is another option that people would like to see get a crack at the NHL. The 22-year-old is in his first full AHL season and has five points and a minus-1 rating, along with 16 penalty minutes, in 24 games with the Amerks this season.
Regardless of which option they go with, the Sabres should not have Matt Tennyson on their roster going forward. If Scandella or another defender is ready to return from injury, great — if not, Jason Botterill and co. should be thinking of other options.