Defenseman Lawrence Pilut has left the Buffalo Sabres to join a Russian team in the Kontinental Hockey League.
Pilut, 24, has signed with Traktor Chelyabins, according to The Buffalo News. Hockeynews.se also reported Pilut was set to leave for Russia.
His new contract includes an NHL out clause, according to The News, although it’s unclear if he could depart the team during the season.
The Swede will become a restricted free agent when the two-year, entry-level NHL contract he signed with the Sabres expires June 30.
RFAs, of course, often look for leverage. Perhaps Pilut wants a better contract from the Sabres. He earned a prorated $832,500 in the NHL.
Pilut quickly morphed into a top prospect following his arrival from the Swedish Hockey League in 2018, forcing his way to Buffalo thanks to his dynamic offensive play with the Rochester Americans.
But the scoring prowess the 5-foot-11, 180-pound Pilut showcased in the AHL – 10 goals and 49 points in 67 games – hasn’t translate to the NHL. Pilut has compiled only one goal and six points in 46 contests with the Sabres.
Traktor had some former NHL players on its roster last season, including ex-Sabres defenseman Dmitri Kalinin.
On a Zoom call Wednesday morning, general manager Jason Botterill said the Sabres, whose season officially ended Tuesday, have communicated with most of their unrestricted free agents and RFAs.
The COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the NHL to pause its season March 12, has kept the league from finalizing the salary cap for next season. The NHL announced Tuesday it plans to restart its season by playing a qualifying round in the summer.
The Sabres, who held Zoom calls with Botterill and four players Wednesday, will hold four more today. Winger Sam Reinhart, captain Jack Eichel, winger Jeff Skinner and defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen are all scheduled to talk.
The Zoom calls are replacing the end-of-season interviews the Sabres would normally hold in the dressing and media rooms.
Sabres coach Ralph Krueger is scheduled to speak Friday.
This week’s “Behind The Bench,” my weekly analysis of the #Sabres w/@WBFOmar on @WBFO, 88.7:
Thoughts on how the season derailed again, the disappointment of missing the play-in round, what the offseason might look like and more!https://t.co/pwwEcIiSde #Sabres50 #Buffalo pic.twitter.com/jqptpRzZZr
— Bill Hoppe (@BillHoppeNHL) May 28, 2020