BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Sabres made a move to clear their logjam on the blue line Friday night, trading defenseman Ilya Lybushkin to Anaheim in exchange for a fourth-round pick in the 2025 draft.

The 29-year-old Lyubushkin played in 68 games this past season after signing a two-year contract worth $2.75 million annually with the Sabres in July, 2022. He tallied two goals and 14 points while battling injury for much of his season in Buffalo.

Scoring a shorthanded goal in overtime on the road against Tampa Bay was the highlight of Lybushkin’s tenure with the Sabres. He led the Sabres’ defensemen in hits and blocked shots per 60 minutes of play, and he played extensively as a penalty-killer.

The Sabres needed to trade at least one defenseman after signing Connor Clifton and Erik Johnson in free agency. That gave Buffalo nine players at the position signed to one-way NHL contracts. There is room for only seven or eight D-men on the opening night roster.

Buffalo now holds nine selections in the 2025 draft, with extra picks in the fourth and seventh rounds. The fourth-rounder obtained from Anaheim originally belonged to Minnesota.

“We are excited to add Ilya to our blueline as we targeted another defenseman for the right side this offseason,” Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek said in a statement. “He is a big, physical, hard-nosed player that can kill penalties and will make us harder to play against.”


Jonah Bronstein joined the WIVB squad in 2022 as a digital sports reporter. The Buffalonian has covered the Bills, Sabres, Bandits, Bisons, colleges, high schools and other notable sporting events in Western New York since 2005, for publications including The Associated Press, The Buffalo News, and Niagara Gazette. Read more of his work here.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.