For a Sabres team that has already has already battled a coronavirus outbreak, losing one of their top four defenders is a big blow. McCabe, 27, had been averaging over 19 minutes per game and formed an effective tandem with Rasmus Ristolainen. Ristolainen is battling the aftereffects of a severe COVID case and it is unclear when he will return. McCabe is also a leader and the Sabres will surely miss his presence both on and off the ice. Sam Reinhart appears to have filled McCabe’s alternate captaincy.
With their no.1 pairing on the shelf, the Sabres will have to call upon depth players to step up. The remainder of their top six defenders (Rasmus Dahlin, Brandon Montour, Colin Miller and Henri Jokiharju) will have to take on increased TOI as well. Taxi squad members Matt Irwin and Brandon Davidson are filling in at the moment. It remains to be seen if Sabres GM Kevyn Adams will look for a solution via trade.
Buffalo has struggled to find consistent moment so far this season but is far from done. It will have to climb yet another hurdle if it wants to end its nine-year postseason drought.