For the second time in three years, defenseman Lawrence Pilut has left the Buffalo Sabres organization.
This time, however, it might be for good.
Pilut, who could’ve become an unrestricted free agent July 1, has signed a two-year contract with Lausanne HC in the Swiss National League, the team announced Tuesday.
The Swede likely saw he would have limited opportunities if he re-signed with Buffalo. He almost certainly would’ve been ticketed again for Rochester, where he recently starred for the Americans in the Calder Cup Playoffs.
So Pilut, 27, returned to Europe, where he has spent most of his career.
Buffalo’s previous regime signed him as a free agent out of the Swedish Hockey League in 2018. He made an immediate impact in North America, earning recalls to Buffalo and a spot in the AHL All-Star Classic.
He played 46 games for the Sabres over two seasons. Then just as he appeared on the cusp of securing regular NHL duty, he bolted to Russia.
Pilut returned to the Sabres in July a more mature, well-rounded defenseman following a two-year stint with Chelyabinsk Traktor, a Kontinental Hockey League team. To re-sign with Buffalo, he needed to have the final two seasons of his contract voided.
After the Sabres recalled him early in the season, he played 17 games before they waived him and sent him back to Rochester.
Pilut embraced his return to the Amerks and an opportunity to become their workhorse defenseman. He seemed to be having a blast throughout the postseason.
Following Friday’s season-ending loss in the AHL Eastern Conference finals, Pilut was emotional. He likely knew he’d be leaving for Switzerland.
Pilut compiled three goals and 28 points in 47 regular-season games for the Amerks this season. He added three goals, including the overtime winner in Game 5 of the North Division semifinal series, and 11 points in 14 postseason outings.
He registered one goal and three points for the Sabres in 2022-23.
Pilut’s departure marks the second straight year one of the Amerks’ top contributors has left for Switzerland. Center Arttu Ruotsalainen signed with EHC Kloten last summer.