Buffalo Sabres Need to Decide on Three Players

Three prospects may become free agents in August.

June 1st has come and gone. The Buffalo Sabres, unlike some NHL teams out there, did not lose any prospects who went back in to the upcoming NHL draft. Though there are a handful of such players out there, including Scott Walford, who was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in 2017, and Lane Zablocki, drafted by the Detroit Red Wings, that wasn’t something the Sabres had to worry about.

However, there is an upcoming deadline that does concern the Sabres and several of their prospects. The Sabres have until August 15, 2019, just about two and a half months, to sign three of their recent-ish draft picks, lest they become free agents.

Those three players: 2014 picks Christopher Brown and Max Willman, and 2015 pick Ivan Chukarov. All three must sign by August 15th in order for the Sabres to retain their rights.

With that said, here’s a look at these three prospects and how they fared this past season.

Christopher Brown (23, center, drafted 151st overall, 2014)

Brown has completed his senior season with the Boston College Eagles. As a senior, he served as a captain for the second straight season and appeared in all 39 games. His 16 points, including seven goals, were good for fifth on the team. He also recorded 325 face-off wins, second-most on the team, and won the John “Snooks” Kelley Memorial Award.

Brown finished his collegiate career with 72 points (27-45) in 151 games. Following the end of his season, he signed an amateur tryout agreement with the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins. He went on to appear in three games with the Penguins and recorded one assist.

Ivan Chukarov (24, defense, drafted 182nd overall, 2015)

Chukarov was in the midst of his senior season with an impressive UMass squad when he elected to sign with the ECHL’s Worchester Railers. Chukarov finished his collegiate career with six goals and 19 assists in 128 games. After finishing his first two collegiate seasons a minus-17 and minus-24, respectively, he finished his junior season as an even zero and was a plus-4 in the portion of his senior season that he played.

He also recorded 88 penalty minutes in his collegiate career. Upon joining the Railers, Chukarov appeared in 15 games, where he recorded five points and was a plus-7.

Max Willman (24, center/left wing, drafted 121st overall, 2014)

Willman just wrapped up a season with Boston University as a graduate transfer, coming from Brown University. He recorded six points, including five assists, and 24 penalty minutes, in 36 games with BU.

This season followed a four-year collegiate career at Brown, where Willman recorded 16 goals and 29 assists in 99 games played.

Now, Sabres GM Jason Botterill and his staff will need to evaluate all three players to decide whether or not to sign them going forward. Of course, it’s a two-way street, and the players themselves need to decide if they want to sign with Buffalo or hit the free agent market in a couple short months.