The Buffalo Sabres carefully considered who they brought in over the summer to upgrade their blueline after allowing 300 goals last season. GM Kevyn Adams added Stanley Cup winner Erik Johnson and veteran Connor Clifton in free agency, and through the first few days of training camp, they have been sharing their experience and having an influence on their new teammates.
“Everybody influences everybody and that’s why you’ve got to be very cognizant of who you bring in, because on the negative side, they’re going to influence somebody as well. You have to know people, you have to get to know their reputation ahead of time before you make a move.” Sabres head coach Don Granato said. “You hear about all these potential acquisitions around pro sports and I know hockey specifically, you can’t just go get a guy just because he’s a good hockey player and think it’s just going to help you. Eric walks in on day one. We know his reputation preceded him and he’s going to influence our guys before he even got on the ice.”
Newest Sabre Erik Johnson discussing a drill. pic.twitter.com/kUNAUzyNMJ
— Paul Hamilton (@pham1717) September 22, 2023
Granato early in camp has surprisingly separated his most effective pairing from last season in Rasmus Dahlin and Mattias Samuelsson and opted for three pairings with lefty/righty combos. Dahlin has been paired with the defensive-minded Clifton, Samuelsson is with Johnson in more of a shutdown role, and lefty Owen Power has been partnered with righty Henri Jokiharju.
“(Erik has) rubbed off on Samuelson, but he’s rubbed off on everybody from the moment he walked in here.” Granato said.”When we looked at Clifton and Johnson. These are guys we were hopeful to sign. Those are the reasons why, the chemistry in that room. I know that players in our room, I know the guys we have, they’re going to look up to these guys and these are the right guys to look up to.”
The Sabres won 4-3 over the Washington Capitals at the Capital One Arena in DC on Sunday. J-J Peterka, Peyton Krebs, and rookie Zach Benson scored in regulation for Buffalo, with Peterka and Brandon Biro scoring in the shootout.
— Buffalo Hockey Moments (@SabresPlays) September 24, 2023
The Sabres will continue their stretch of five preseason games in seven days against the Boston Bruins at Key Bank Center.