Report: Lawrence Pilut is considering leaving for the KHL


An up and coming young defenseman could be on his way out of the Buffalo Sabres organization.

Lawrence Pilut, who has had a tough time getting minutes with the Sabres in the past two seasons, is reportedly considering leaving for the Kontinental Hockey League in Russia, according to Russian reporter Igor Zhukov.

Buffalobacken Lawrence Pilut, vars säsong officiellt tog slut under tisdagskvällen i och med beskedet att Buffalo har spelat färdigt, är aktuell för en flytt till KHL och Traktor Tjeljabinsk. Det rapporterar ryska medier. #NHLse #KHL

— (@HockeynewsSe) May 27, 2020

Pilut has spent the past two seasons in the Sabres organization, and was an two-time AHL All-Star with the Rochester Americans in the American Hockey League. In 46 combined games in the NHL, Pilut has one career goal to go along with five assists for six points. With the Amerks, Pilut has done well with 49 points (10+39) in 67 games.

This past season, Pilut played 37 games in the AHL and just 13 games in the NHL. He has shown a lot of promise as a passer on the back end, and has become a darling in the analytics community.

While some reports in the past have suggested a player is leaving the organiztion, it does not mean that those stories are true. Last year, it was reported in Sweden that Johan Larsson was signing in the Swedish Hockey League, which ultimately did not happen.

As our own Jeremy White brought up on Twitter on Wednesday, this could just be a negotiating tactic, as Pilut is a restricted free agent this offseason.

SSSS says it’s possible this is contract negotiation gamesmanship.FWIW - The KHL doesn’t start til Sep 2 tentatively and the Sabres are toast til beyond then.Just sayin...

— Jeremy White (@JeremyWGR) May 27, 2020

White also adds that Pilut is being told he will have a top-four role with the Sabres next season.

SSSS says the Sabres are telling him he’s top 4 next year.

— Jeremy White (@JeremyWGR) May 27, 2020

NHL writer John Vogl reports that the Sabres are of the mindset that Pilut has signed with a KHL team, rumored to be Traktor Chelyabinsk. However, there is an NHL out-clause in that contract, so the Sabres plan on holding on his rights. Vogl also adds that it is possible that if the 2020-21 KHL season starts before the NHL, Pilut could play with Traktor and then come back to Buffalo.

Given his play in the AHL and NHL, and the Sabres being thin on left-shot defensemen, it's not hard to see why they would want Pilut to stick around on their second pair.