Almost 22 months have passed since Brandon Montour joined the Buffalo Sabres at the trade deadline in February 2019, yet the 26-year-old defenseman has yet to play a full season with the team.
Equipped with the elite skating stride Phil Housley wanted on the back end, Montour showed promise in 20 games under the former Sabres coach. Then came a coaching change, a knee injury that prevented Montour from completing the IIHF World Championships in May 2019 and a broken hand that forced him to miss the first 14 games of the 2019-20 season.
Upon returning to the lineup, Montour, who shoots right-handed, was moved to the left side because of the Sabres’ crowded depth chart. He even filled in at forward when the team was dealing with injuries. While Montour noted he gradually became more comfortable playing his off side on defense, he finished the coronavirus-shortened season with five goals and 13 assists for 18 points in 54 games.
A restricted free agent this offseason, Montour appeared to have an uncertain future with the Sabres when a report surfaced in August that he might not receive a qualifying offer from new General Manager Kevyn Adams. However, Adams denied that was the case and both sides avoided arbitration when Montour signed a one-year, $3.875 million contract.
Montour, whom the Sabres acquired at the 2019 trade deadline from the Anaheim Ducks for a first-round draft pick and prospect Brendan Guhle, will be an unrestricted free agent after this season, providing him with potentially one final opportunity to show the franchise’s new regime he’s part of the solution in Buffalo.