2021 Player Report Card: Jacob Bryson

Bryson was up and down in his first NHL season

Total Season Stats: 38 GP | 1 G | 8 A | 9 PTS

Age: 23

Contract Status: Under contract through 2022-23 (RFA)

Jacob Bryson got his first taste of the NHL by playing 38 games with the Buffalo Sabres. There was an outside chance going into the season that he would get some time with the club, but injuries forced him into the lineup sooner than expected.

He started his NHL career hot out of the gate. He brought speed and some dynamic ability on the rush to the Sabres lineup. Two areas that the team really needed help in at the time under Ralph Krueger.

The 23-year-old defender is a high-event player, in my opinion. What that means is that when he is on the ice there are high-quality scoring chances at both ends of the ice. Early on, he was coming out ahead at 5 on 5. He would still give up a lot when he was on the ice, but the offense was outweighing the defense.

As the season went along things started to go in the negative direction. He was giving up more defensively when he was on the ice than what he was providing offensively. His defensive zone shortcomings started to become more obvious as the season went along.

Bryson struggled with poor decisions with the puck and turnovers in the AHL before he joined the Sabres. He was improved in this area when he first joined the club, but this issue returned in the final stretch of the year.

The Sabres also didn’t help him with the type of situations they put him in. Putting him on the penalty kill and keep him there was one of the great mysteries of last season for me. He never looked comfortable doing it and struggled from the beginning.

Depending on your feelings about Rasmus Ristolainen, that was his most common partner this past season. Personally, I would classify that as an ideal partner for a young player to breaking into the league.

We’ll see what the Sabres’ plans are for Bryson next season. I feel his long-term potential in the NHL is a change of pace bottom-pair defender.

Season Grade: C+

How would you grade Casey Mittelstadt this season?