The Buffalo Sabres looked like a team on the verge of contending for the playoffs, but things have not gone as planned so far in 2023-24 as they currently sit at 8-9-2, with 18 points for their efforts. Since they came so close to making the playoffs last season, they understandably didn’t make many moves in the offseason, but the moves they made (or refrained from making) haven’t fared well over the first quarter of the season.
Two of these moves had to do with recent signings that have been less-than-impressive and have since seen a rookie pass them in the lineup. The third involved a player they should have shopped harder, but ultimately were unable to find a trade partner and have since kept him on the roster and as a part-timer through the first 18 games.
3 offseason moves the Buffalo Sabres might already be regretting
3. Signing Connor Clifton
Bringing in Connor Clifton from the Boston Bruins made sense since the Sabres needed a player who could inject some physicality into the team. And to Clifton’s credit, he’s been doing his job in that regard, with 44 hits in 17 games.
Unfortunately, however, the 28-year-old is operating at a minus-5 rating, and the Sabres have a measly on-ice save percentage of 86.8 when Clifton is on the ice at 5-on-5. It’s been a rough outing for Clifton, who has since seen the surging Ryan Johnson pass him in ice time, but there is good news about the former Bruin having joined the Sabres this year.
Clifton is familiar with Sabres head coach Don Granato’s system, and just last season, the then newly-acquired winger Jordan Greenway faced similar issues despite his familiarity with Granato and was overall ineffective. Greenway has since become a force on the Sabres, so perhaps Clifton just needs time to adapt.
At the moment, however, he hasn’t lived up to his billing.