SUNRISE, Fla. – Lawrence Pilut’s family and friends have been told to prepare for a late night. Pilut, a 22-year-old defenseman, will make his NHL debut for the Buffalo Sabres against the Florida Panthers tonight at 7 p.m.
Pilut, recalled from the Rochester Americans on Tuesday, will be inserted into the lineup after defenseman Jake McCabe suffered an “upper-body” injury Thursday against the Tampa Bay Lightning. His family in Tingrsyd, Sweden planned to stay awake to watch his debut at 1 a.m. local time.
The Sabres also placed winger Conor Sheary and defenseman Marco Scandella on injured reserve, while forward Patrik Berglund was activated from injured reserve and defenseman Matt Tennyson was recalled from Rochester. Pilut, signed to a two-year entry-level contract in May, is unlikely to be eased into action since the Sabres’ defensemen were taxed during a 5-4 loss to the Lightning at Amalie Arena.
“Yeah, it’s going to be fun,” Pilut told reporters at BB&T Center on Friday. “It’s going to be a dream come true tonight to get on the ice and play my first game. I’m ready for it.”
McCabe’s injury and a 10-minute misconduct for Nathan Beaulieu against the Lightning forced Rasmus Ristolainen to play 28:52, while Rasmus Dahlin and Zach Bogosian logged 25:51 and 25:05 on the ice, respectively, Thursday night.
Pilut was tied for third in the AHL with 22 points in 16 games for the Americans at the time of his promotion. He spent four-plus seasons with HV71 of the Swedish Hockey League, which named Pilut its top defenseman in 2017-18. Sabres coach Phil Housley told reporters Sheary (upper body) is day-to-day and skated Friday morning.
“He seems to get more comfortable each day,” Housley said of Pilut. “I know we haven’t had a lot of quality practice time because of our schedule, but he’s done a terrific jo. He’s earned the right to play tonight.”
Sheary has six goals among 12 points and a minus-2 rating ion 24 games this season. Berglund will play against the Panthers, while winger Remi Elie is expected to be a healthy scratch, Housley said. Berglund has missed the past five games with an upper-body injury and has two goals among four points in 19 games.
Scandella has not played the past two games with what Housley called an upper-body injury, unrelated to the injury Scandella suffered on a blocked shot against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Nov. 19. With Scandella unavailable, Tennyson was recalled in the event of an injury during warmups.
Tennyson, 28, has one assist in seven games with the Americans this season and appeared in 15 games with the Sabres in 2017-18.