The Buffalo Sabres made a move to clear out their glut on defense, trading veteran blueliner Ilya Lyubushkin to the Anaheim Ducks on Friday for a fourth-round pick in 2025. The pick was acquired by the Ducks in a trade with Minnesota for defenseman John Klingberg at the trade deadline.
The 29-year-old Moscow native had 14 points (2 goals, 12 assists) in 68 games with the Sabres last season. Lyubushkin signed a two-year, $5.5 million contract as a free agent last summer after playing with Arizona and Toronto in 2022. The Ducks have been on a quest to add experience and toughness this summer, with the signings of Stanley Cup winner Alex Killorn and defensemen Radko Gudas and former Sabre Robert Hagg.
The deal clears $2.75 million in cap space for Buffalo (giving them nearly $9 million in cap room going into the season), but more importantly, alleviates the dilemma that GM Kevyn Adams was going to have at the end of training camp in early October. After the signing of free agents Connor Clifton and Erik Johnson in early July, the Sabres had 10 defensemen with NHL experience on the roster.
Eight blueliners were on one-way contracts, which meant that Buffalo would risk losing one of them on waivers if they attempted to demote them to the American Hockey League. The additions of Clifton and Johnson to go along with Lyubushkin and Henri Jokiharju overloaded the right side