Buffalo Sabres: The top-10 players under 24, part two

Dylan Cozens, Buffalo Sabres (Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images)
Dylan Cozens, Buffalo Sabres (Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images) /
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Buffalo Sabres
Lawrence Pilut, Buffalo Sabres. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

5. Lawrence Pilut (23), Defenseman, undrafted free agent

A four year pro with HV71 of the Swedish Elite League, Lawrence Pilut was signed as a free agent in May of 2018. He was the SEL’s top-scoring defenseman with 38 points in 52 games. With that pedigree, Pilut was a must-have for GM Jason Botterill.

The puck-moving defenseman enters into a crowded situation on the Buffalo blueline. Last year Pilut excelled with Rochester scoring 26 points in 30 games. His good performance earned him 33 games in Buffalo. Pilut’s vision is what separates him from an average offensive defenseman. He won’t blow people away on his skates but can be counted on to make a good pass. His shot isn’t bad either.

4. Casey Mittelstadt (20), Center, 2017 1st round, 8th overall

2018-19 was a big learning year for Sabres rookie Casey Mittelstadt. For the first time ever, he struggled to put up points in an entire season. Mittelstadt scored just 25 points in 77 games. He must have done a few things right because head coach Phil Housley played the 20-year-old an average of 13:27 per night. He learned some important lessons though and will be better for it next season.

Mittelstadt has an explosive first step and gets faster from there. He owns an impressive cadre of moves and is quite able to juke defenders. As he’s faking out defenders, Mittelstadt has the ability to keep the puck on a string. When in the offensive zone, he can either make a top-shelf pass to an open teammate or create his own shot. His shot, by the way, is outstanding.

With all he’s got going on offensively, it would be easy to overlook his two-way game. He’s a hard worker and hustles to get back on defense. As Mittelstadt matures he will only get better in his own end.