The Buffalo Sabres bolstered their blueline with a pair of veteran free-agent signings on July 1, adding Stanley Cup winner Erik Johnson and former Boston Bruin Connor Clifton, but GM Kevyn Adams indicated at the opening of the club’s Development Camp this week that he wanted to improve on the organization’s depth between the pipes and on defense.
Does it get any prettier than that!?
KALE CLAGUE MAKES IT 5-3! pic.twitter.com/ZonSd2FX6Z
— Rochester Americans (@AmerksHockey) November 26, 2022
The Sabres brought back veteran goalies Dustin Tokarski and Michael Houser and signed Devin Cooley to one-year deals to fill spots in Rochester and in the ECHL behind presumptive starters Devon Levi, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, and Eric Comrie. After signing Johnson and Clifton, Buffalo had eight defensemen on one-way deals and Calder Trophy nominee Owen Power in the last year of his entry-level contract. On Tuesday, the club re-signed blueliner Kale Clague to a one-year, two-way deal worth 775,000 at the NHL level and $475,000 at the AHL level.
The 25-year-old Clague was a second-round pick of the Los Angeles Kings in 2016 and spent four years splitting time between the Kings and their AHL affiliate before being claimed by Montreal on waivers in December 2021. The Sabres signed the Regina, Saskatchewan native last summer and he played 33 games for Buffalo, registering four assists in 33 NHL games, as well as six points (1 goal, 5 assists) in 14 AHL games with Rochester.
It is difficult to see Clague cracking the Sabres lineup this season, but with nearly 100 games of NHL experience, it makes him a valuable piece that could be plugged in if injuries occur.
There is the possibility of a trade at some point this summer with three defensemen in Heri Jokiharju, Jacob Bryson, and Riley Stillman all entering the final year of their contracts and arbitration-eligible restricted free agents next summer.