3 Takeaways from Sabres’ 2022-23 Opening Night Roster

The roster for this years’ Buffalo Sabres was pretty much set heading into training camp, but the official announcement Monday left a few surprises. The main battles heading into the preseason revolved around who their depth forwards would be, how they would balance their surplus of  left-handed defensemen, and how they would spread out their goaltending resources. Whether it be Jack Quinn and JJ Peterka making the roster after impressive pre-seasons or Lawrence Pilut and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen both being sent down to Rochester, the opening night roster paints an interesting picture that reflects the depth the team built this offseason. 

Jack Quinn & JJ Peterka Both Make Roster

Throughout training camp and the preseason there was a sense that only one of JJ Peterka or Jack Quinn would make the roster, but the Sabres elected to keep both of them with the team. Having Riley Sheahan start the season on injured reserve probably made that decision an easier one, but it still exciting to see two rookie forwards joining the team.

Quinn was always the frontrunner to make the roster after his stellar season in Rochester earned him AHL rookie of the year honors. He impressed in his limited action with the Sabres last season and was an obvious choice to graduate to the NHL level. 

JJ Peterka Buffalo Sabres
JJ Peterka, Buffalo Sabres (Photo by Ben Green/NHLI via Getty Images)

Choosing to keep Peterka was certainly an interesting decision. It seemed like he was the odd man out throughout training camp and the preseason, but he was able to find chemistry with Dylan Cozens and Peyton Krebs to earn his spot on the roster. Because of the surplus of forwards the team currently has, Peterka will need to continue to earn his spot when Sheahan returns from injured reserve. 

Having both these players make the roster to start the season is a very exciting development for the Sabres. These were the first two players general manager Kevyn Adams drafted after he was hired, and having them contribute so soon is an exciting turn for the organization.

Lawrence Pilut Starts in Rochester

After returning to the Sabres organization this offseason it seemed like a given that Lawrence Pilut would start the season in the NHL. They decided to assign him to the Rochester Americans instead, and kept Casey Fitzgerald with the team in somewhat of a surprising move. 

Related: Predicting the Sabres’ Defense Pairs for the 2022-23 Season

This move essentially boils down to the excess left handed shot defensemen the team has, and the shortage they have on the right side. If they kept Pilut they would have five left-hand shot defensemen, and just two that shoot right. He will be back up with the team shortly, as he is way too talented to spend the season in Rochester and injuries are, unfortunately, a likely occurrence. 

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen the Odd Man Out

The Sabres’ goaltending was mostly settled before the preseason began, with Eric Comrie and Craig Anderson the frontrunners to man the crease this season. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen was given opportunities to prove he should make the team, but ultimately the Sabres decided to assign him to Rochester to start the year. 

The Sabres are still waiting for him to consistently show he belongs at the NHL level. He was stable for them in his limited action last season, but they are making the right choice by giving him another opportunity to be Rochester’s number one goaltender. If he would’ve began the year in Buffalo he would’ve been in a three-way rotation with Comrie and Anderson, limiting playing time that would be valuable to his development. 

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen Buffalo Sabres
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, Buffalo Sabres (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

Starting him in Rochester will give him ample opportunity, and he will be the first goaltender to be called up if Comrie or Anderson get injured. He will see games in Buffalo this season, but allowing him the space to earn that opportunity is best for the organization. 

While sending players like Pilut and Luukkonen to Rochester sounds like a negative, it is actually a positive for the organization. They have put themselves in a position to keep talented players with the team in Buffalo while also prioritizing prospect development and organizational depth. They wanted those players to get as much playing time as possible, and having them in and out of the lineup would have hindered that. They are in a position where they have to make some difficult decisions with the roster because of how well they have drafted and developed, and seeing that come to fruition is going to benefit them when they need to make adjustments due to performance changes or injury. 

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