DOB: October 12, 1993 (Age, 24)
Draft: 2012, second round (44th-overall)
How acquired: Drafted by Buffalo
Last contract signed: June 30, 2016
Final year of contract: 2018-19
2017-18 Stats: 53 games played | 3 goals | 9 assists | 12 points | -11 | 19:30 ATOI
Buffalo Career Stats: 215 games | 10 goals | 37 assists | 47 points |-15 | 19:34 ATOI
What we wrote preseason:
At 6'0" 214 lbs. he always had a pro-ready frame but it took a while for his skills and hockey smarts to catch up with the speed of the pro game. McCabe isn't without faults and he's had his fair share of blunders, but one of the things he's always been able to do is bounce back from a mistake and rarely does it happen again.
It would seem as if we're starting to find a sweet spot for his ice-time and a more well-defined slot in the d-corps, although he still has upside. McCabe has continued to show that knack for finding open space at the NHL-level but has been unable to put the puck in the net with any consistency.
Regardless of his offensive output to this point in his still young NHL career, McCabe has gotten a good handle on the speed of the NHL and is solid in his zone, which seemed to be his major area of focus these first few seasons.
What we wrote mid-season:
Although he'll never be looked at as a top-pairing defenseman and some might question his abilities in a second-pairing role, McCabe has been holding his own and has generally played pretty well. He still has his gaffes and issues, but like Ristolainen, the 24 yr. old is still evolving. McCabe can play a hard-hitting, standup game which gets him in trouble at times, and he can defend pretty well too. But it should also be noted that he's the only defensemen on the Sabers to score a goal this year and has done so twice, which is good for him, bad for the team.
Impressions on his play this year:
In early February McCabe went down with a shoulder injury that ended his season. Housley started out with him on the third pairing with rookie Victor Antipin, whom he spent most of his 53 games with. McCabe also spent a short period with Zach Bogosian, his d-partner from the prior year, until Bogosian went down with an injury. Housley moved McCabe around a lot in the bottom pairings with an array of d-partners all season.
Perhaps that shoulder injury was a good thing. At locker cleanout he told the gathered media that being out for a month allowed for "mental reflection" and in opting for the needed surgery at that time will allow him to be ready for next season. McCabe came out and said "this year sucked" and that it was "mentally a grind" but that next year does represent a "fresh start."
Questions moving forward:
Do the Sabres consider him trade bait to help fill holes on the wing? Can the Sabres afford to lose a gritty, heart-and-soul type of player who can play the position? Can he pick up his offensive game? Is his hard-hitting game beginning to catch up with him? Will McCabe be paired with a steady d-partner? Can he be effective if asked to move to the right side?
Contract info via CapFriendly, stats via sabres.com and hockey reference.com.
Locker cleanout video from Sabres.com: