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Sabres Sign Buffalo Native Gilbert; Bring Back Bryson

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Dennis Gilbert Jacob Bryson Buffalo Sabres free agency

The Buffalo Sabres made five free-agent signings official Monday, including a pair of defensemen familiar to Buffalo – Dennis Gilbert and Jacob Bryson. Gilbert attended St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute in Kenmore and played for the Junior Sabres. Bryson did not receive a qualifying offer as a restricted free agent but returns to the Sabres organization on a cheaper deal.

The remaining three free agent signing announcements were forwards previously reported to have signed with Buffalo, Jason Zucker, Sam Lafferty, and Nicolas Aube-Kubel.

Must Read: Reports: Sabres Sign Zucker, Lafferty in Free Agency

Dennis Gilbert

Gilbert played 34 games for the Calgary Flames last season, marking the first time he appeared in more games in the NHL than AHL in his career. He registered one goal and seven points in those games. He signed a one-year, $825,000 deal with Buffalo.

Dennis Gilbert Buffalo Sabres player comps

Gilbert first appeared in the NHL back in 2018-2019 with the Chicago Blackhawks, the team that drafted him in the third round. His attributes range from being a quality shooter to being a physical, tough defender. Calgary Hockey Now’s Trevor Neufeld offered this to say about the defenseman:

“[Gilbert] defends adequately and his hits hurt. [He] has the size and talent to hold a spot. [He had] bad concussions last year. One from an awkward [Nils] Hoglander hit in preseason and then hit his head on the ice during the season and went out cold for a minute.”

If Gilbert remains healthy, he’ll challenge for a roster spot on the Sabres.

Catch up: Sabres 2024 NHL Draft Summary

Jacob Bryson

After the trade deadline last season, Bryson stepped into an everyday role in Buffalo’s lineup. The London, Ontario native decided to stay with the Sabres, signing a one-year, $900,000 contract. He’ll compete with Gilbert and Ryan Johnson for a roster spot, using his familiarity within the organization to his advantage.

Jacob Bryson Buffalo Sabres player comps

Bryson’s stats nearly mimic Gilbert’s last season, with one goal and eight points in 36 games for the Sabres. He put up stellar defensive metrics, albeit on Buffalo’s bottom pair. He’s also physical for his size and can contribute to the penalty kill when called upon.

Jack Rathbone

The Sabres did not extend a qualifying offer to Riley Stillman and Calle Sjalin, making them unrestricted free agents. Adding Gilbert to the mix fills one of those spots, and the Sabres reportedly added defenseman Jack Rathbone to fill the other vacancy.

PuckPedia reported that the 25-year-old Rathbone signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Sabres. His NHL salary will be $775,000, while his minors salary is $500,000. This almost ensures that Rathbone will start the season in Rochester, although he appeared in 28 NHL games in his career.