In an effort to help bolster the organization’s depth on the blue line, Sabres’ GM Jason Botterill signed defensman Lawrence Pilut to a two-year, entry-level contract on May 15. This signing added much-needed speed, skill, and puck handling to a team that severely lacked in the previous year, especially on the defensive end. Although this will be his debut season playing in North America, he has already made a name for himself in the Swedish Hockey League.
As a member of HV71, he earned eight goals for 38 points in 52 games, statistics which led all defensmen in the SHL, and Pilut also ranked fifth in assists and 13th in points. While he has yet to play a pro game in North America, he seems to have made an immediate impact on coaches within the organization as he nears the beginning of a new chapter in his career.
From an article written by Ryan Harr on Amerks.com, Rochester Americans’ head coach Chris Taylor spoke highly of Pilut and his overall performance, stating “one of the first things about him that I noticed was his skill-set and how hard he works.. he is very mature and someone who can change a game with his shot.”
Lawrence Pilut officially in the #Sabres fold on a two-year deal. Good mobility, offensive-minded – should add to the new-age NHL (and Housley's) style where D are expected to add to the playmaking attack. 2017-18 SHL Defenseman of the Year. https://t.co/gWl5YrJkul— Kris Baker (@SabresProspects) May 15, 2018
In 191 career games played in the league, Pilut scored 15 goals and earned 71 total points, and when discussing last season, the same article wrote that Pilut was able to take some strides as a player and as a person.
“I had more responsibilities with the team and I think it helped then and will continue to help me as my game continues to evolve.” – Pilut
Regarding the time spent in Development Camp, it was written in the same article that “It has been a good experience so far.. Everything has gone much better than I originally thought it was going to be.”
He also added the impact of having numerous players from his native Sweden at the camp, including first overall pick Rasmus Dahlin, as well as the other fellow prospects that were in attendance during the weeklong camp at HARBORCenter.
While his speed and ability to handle the puck have helped him stand out from other young prospects in Buffalo’s pipeline, Pilut is still just 22 and heading into his first season playing pro hockey in North America. As a result, he will likely go through an adjustment period that will require spending time in Rochester once the season gets underway.
However, due to his skill set on defense, he can bring immense help to the Sabres in the event that he receives a call-up during the year and play a role on a team that has changed drastically since his signing a few months ago.