As reports from Hockey News SE indicated several weeks ago, Lawrence Pilut has officially gone back to Europe. Hockey News SE initially reported the news in late May, and today, the KHL’s Traktor Chelyabinsk have officially announced their signing of the Buffalo Sabres defenseman.
⚡ «Трактор» заключил контракт с Лоуренсом Пилутом ⚡— HCTraktor1947 (@HCTraktor1947) June 9, 2020
Соглашение с 24-летним шведским защитником рассчитано на два сезона. pic.twitter.com/xYqLCIMBeK
The promising young defender has signed a two-year deal with the KHL club. He’s set to become an NHL restricted free agent this summer, and with today’s news, it appears his time with the Sabres is pretty much over.
Per club statement, they said "He had an offer to stay in the NHL, but we managed to convince him that in Tractor and in the KHL he would be able to get a slightly different role and more playing time". So I guess no Sabres unless something spectacular happens.— Alexander Nilsson (@aalexnil) June 9, 2020
For Sabres fans, it’s certainly unfortunate to see the 24-year-old go. Pilut seemed to be making his mark at both the AHL and NHL levels over the past two seasons - his first in North America - and is (or was) arguably one of the Sabres’ best defensive prospects going forward. The Sabres, however, seemingly mismanaged him, sending him down to Rochester and not giving him the opportunities he should have had.
Now, he’s decided to take his talents back to Europe. You can’t blame him for capitalizing on the opportunity to get better playing time at a high level of hockey, rather than being relegated down the roster and forced into the AHL.
Pilut previously played five seasons with HV71 Jonkoping in Sweden from 2013 to 2018 before coming to North America. He appeared in 46 NHL games with the Sabres over the last two seasons and also played in 70 games for the Amerks.