2022 Player Report Card: Mark Pysyk

Veteran defenseman was brought back for some smarts and stability

Last up in our 2022 Buffalo Sabres player report cards series is defenseman Mark Pysyk.

Total Season Stats: 68 GP | 3 G | 9 A | 12 PTS

Age: 30

Contract Status: One-year deal at $750,000, signed with Detroit in FA.

With the Sabres defensive corps undergoing major surgery last summer with the departures of Rasmus Ristolainen and Jake McCabe, coach Don Granato needed some experience and stability to ground all the youngsters in the room. Enter Mark Pysysk, who had been drafted by the organization and was a solid d-man between 2010-16 before an unpopular trade saw the analytics crowd darling shipped out to Florida where he truly hit the limelight.

Granato brought Pysyk back after viewing his tape with the Dallas Stars, and proceeded to use the veteran up and down the defensive pairings during the season. The coach even named Pysysk alternate captain as a nod to his leadership after Kyle Okposo went out injured.

“He’s a real stabilizing personality. That was at a premium for us at that moment, to have a little bit more calm. Certainly the defense group was under fire … and Mark has a real calming presence and it showed in the game.”

There is nothing flashy about Pysyk’s game at this point, but he lets younger, more offensive-minded defensemen get about their game while providing them with a defensive foundation. His 15:29 a night was mostly unspectacular but sorely needed in a mixed-and-matched defense. At -4, he had the best 5-on-5 on-ice goal difference of any of the nine defensemen who played over 30 games (tied with Colin Miller).

With the defensive corps a year older but still painfully young, it was expected that General Manager Kevyn Adams would find a way to bring Pysysk back this summer, however Buffalo decided to go with Ilya Lyubushkin and Pysysk instead went to Detroit.

Grade Mark Pysyk on his 2021-22 season

A - excelled above expectation16
B - did better than expectation126
C - met expectation174
D - did worse than expectation8
F - did much worse than expectation3