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Impressions of, and questions concerning--D, Brandon Montour

May 14, 2019, 9:17 AM ET [919 Comments]
Michael Pachla
Buffalo Sabres Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT

Defenseman--Brandon Montour
DOB: April 11, 1994 (age, 25)
Draft: 2014, second round (55th-overall,) ANA
How acquired: Trade with the Anaheim Ducks February 24, 2019
Last contract signed: July 24, 2018, 2yr./$6.775 million
Final year of contract: 2019-20

2018-19 Buffalo Stats: 20 games | 3 goals | 7 assists | 10 points | -4 | 21:46 ATOI

Career Stats: 189 games | 19 goals | 54 assists | 73 points | +7 | 20:53 ATOI

What we wrote preseason: N/A

What we wrote mid-season: N/A

Impressions on his play this year: If Montour had been acquired earlier, perhaps in December or even early January when the Sabres were still in a serious playoff hunt, perhaps he may have had more of an impact on both the defense and team overall. Then again, with the way the Sabres devolved since the end of their 10-game winning streak in November, one would be hard pressed to make a case that Montour would have made that much of a difference.

Buffalo GM Jason Botterill tapped into the rich pool of defensemen Anaheim has stocked up over the years and got the Ducks to move one of them. But Montour didn't come cheap. Botterill sent d-prospect Brendan Guhle, who had been on a proper developmental curve ever since he was drafted 52st overall in 2015, along with what will end up being a low, 2019 first rounder to the Ducks in the deal. It may end up being a good hockey trade for both clubs as Guhle can stretch out their prospect pool a bit while the 25 yr. old Montour offers immediate help to Buffalo.

This was good use of the Sabres extra first rounder this year by Botterill. In acquiring Montour Buffalo received an extremely mobile, point-producing defenseman who can quarterback the powerplay. Montour's 10 points since joining the team was second only to Jack Eichel's 14 while his minus-4 rating was second best amongst Buffalo d-men who played in half or more of those games and he led the team with 19:36 of even-strength ice-time.

Montour was a good get for the Sabres in that all the numbers and metrics meshed with the eye-test and point to a solid top-four, point-producing d-man for Buffalo. On the flip side we also saw deficiencies on defense some of which may be inherent, some which may have been a product of the system he was playing in. One thing we are pretty sure of, however, is that with Rasmus Dahlin soon entering the realm of full-fledged No. 1 defenseman, Montour will either be playing beside him, as they did many times this past season, or he'll be bringing the offense in a second-pairing role, which would be ideal for Buffalo if they can find the right d-partners for both.

It's been an extremely slow makeover on defense for Buffalo but it's moving in the right direction. The Sabres needed more mobility on, and offense from, the back end and they got it in when they drafted Dahlin and traded for Montour. How far they go in that direction is to be determined but this is shaping up to be a much better d-corps than anything we've seen in quite some time, perhaps dating back to Tyler Myers Calder Trophy season of 2009-10, and the acquisition of Montour really enhances that notion.

Of note, Montour suffered an injury at the IIHF World Hockey Championships in Slovakia yesterday. The extent of the injury is unknown at this time but we do know that the 2019-20 probable Sabres defense-corps has taken a huge hit this off season. Veteran Zach Bogosian had hip surgery an may or may not be ready for the season opener. Rookie Lawrence Pilut, who appeared in 33 games for the Sabres last season suffered a shoulder injury in Rochester Americans final game of the AHL playoffs. He had surgery and is expected to be out five to six months.

Questions moving forward: What was the injury? How long will the recovery take? Will the new head coach pair him with Dahlin next season? Would Montour be better off paired with more of a defensive defenseman? Will the Sabres use two d-men on the powerplay? If they use two, did Montour displace Rasmus Ristolainen in that role? How will he adapt in going from a very successful Ducks organization to a Buffalo team that hasn't made the playoffs in eight seasons?

Contract info via CapFriendly, stats via sabres.com and hockey reference.com.
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