24-year-old has shown some promise during first full Sabres season
Our Buffalo Sabres 2022 player report cards continue today with a look at defenseman Jacob Bryson.
Total Season Stats: 73 GP, 1 G, 9 A, 10 PTS
Contract Status: RFA (UFA in 2025), $925,000/yr.
It’s easy to see why the Buffalo Sabres signed Jacob Bryson in 2019. The college defenseman was a star player at Providence, earning Hockey East Second Team All-Star honors after getting 28 points in 42 games and serving as the team’s captain. Bryson set a career high in both points and assists in the 2018-19 season and had an assist in all three NCAA tournament games, leading the Providence Friars to a Frozen Four appearance.
His time in the NHL hasn’t been nearly as productive, but 2021-22 was only Bryson’s first full year wearing a Sabres uniform. At the beginning of the past season, Die By the Blade ranked him as #15 in the Buffalo Sabres Top 25 Under 25 Prospects series. Writers and fans felt coach Ralph Krueger’s conservative system hindered him, but once out from under Krueger’s leadership and playing for new head coach Don Granato, he would hopefully show his full skill and potential.
Bryson played just 38 games for the Sabres in 2020-21, and recorded 1 goal, 8 assists and 9 points, while his stats for the following season recently ended were 1, 9 and 10, respectively.
However, his ice time nearly doubled and his takeaway and giveaway numbers also greatly improved. The defenseman also recorded 116 blocks in 111 games. Bryson is not as adept at getting shots on goal, but, as Sion Fawkes of Sabrenoise pointed out, Buffalo has other d-men such as Rasmus Dahlin and Owen Power who are good at scoring from the blue line.
Even though No. 78 is not as prolific a goal scorer as the above-mentioned players, he’s been able to get pucks to the net. He scored his lone goal of the season on the power play against the Leafs on Mar. 2, 2022, opening up the scoring that led to a 5-1 Sabres win:
Jacob Bryson is currently an RFA until 2025, when he becomes unrestricted. The Buffalo Sabres have a decision to make. They can either resign Bryson and hope he continues to improve or trade the young defenseman for a veteran d-man to shore up the team’s zone coverage. Bryson needs at least one more season to see if he keeps playing better.
The Sabres as a whole performed terribly until the last two months of 2021-22 and 78 was no exception. He did, however, begin to show improvement when the rest of the roster did. If other players continue to put forth the same level of effort and skill next year that they exhibited this past March and April, maybe Bryson will, too.
Season Grade: C+
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