Saturday, August 4, 2018

Top prospects for Buffalo Sabres

1. Rasmus Dahlin, D
How acquired: Selected with No. 1 pick in 2018 NHL Draft
Last season: Frolunda (SHL): 41 GP, 7-13-20
Dahlin (6-foot-2, 181 pounds) could start the season on the No. 1 defense pair with Rasmus Ristolainen. The 18-year-old, who is a left-handed shot, set a Swedish Hockey League record for points in a season by an under-18 defenseman. He was named the best defenseman at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship when he had six assists in seven games, and he was the youngest player for Sweden at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.
"Just how he shifts back and forth from one side to the other side," said Chris Taylor, coach of Rochester in the American Hockey League affiliate, who ran Buffalo's development camp. "He can stop laterally, his stride, his passing is crisp like an NHL player. Receiving passes, you probably see a lot of times pucks bouncing off of people's sticks. It didn't bounce off his stick. He's just one of those guys, you can tell."
Projected NHL arrival: This season
2. Casey Mittelstadt, F
How acquired: Selected with No. 8 pick in 2017 NHL Draft
Last season: Buffalo: 6 GP, 1-4-5; University of Minnesota (NCAA): 34 GP, 11-19-30
Mittelstadt is expected to have a big role in the Sabres' top six. The 19-year-old forward (6-1, 190) signed a three-year, entry-level contract March 26, had an assist in each of his first two NHL games, and scored his first NHL goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning on April 6.
"We're very excited about Casey's potential," Buffalo general manager Jason Botterill said. "You saw it in the games he played last year. I thought it was a great experience for him to go into tough environments in Tampa Bay or Nashville or Toronto, to really get a feel for the NHL game."
Projected NHL arrival: This season
3. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, G
How acquired: Selected with No. 54 pick in 2017 NHL Draft
Last season: LeKi (FIN-2): 24 GP, 11-11-2, 2.92 GAA, .909 SV%
The 19-year-old signed a three-year, entry-level contract June 14 and will play for Sudbury in the Ontario Hockey League this season, his first in North America. Luukkonen (6-4, 196) likely will start for Finland at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship after helping it place sixth at the 2018 WJC.
"We do know he'll play a significant role at the World Juniors and that'll be another good experience for him," Botterill said. "We're going to be patient with him as we go along here."
Projected NHL arrival: 2020-21 season
4. Alexander Nylander, F
How acquired: Selected with No. 8 pick in 2016 NHL Draft
Last season: Buffalo: 3 GP, 1-0-1; Rochester (AHL): 51 GP, 8-19-27
The 20-year-old scored his first NHL goal April 6. He'll have the opportunity to start the season in the NHL after a solid second season in the AHL. Nylander (6-1, 192) averaged 0.53 points per game and was plus-3 last season, up from 0.43 and minus-24 in 2016-17.
"We're going to give him an opportunity to play with our higher-end offensive skill players in training camp," Botterill said.
Projected NHL arrival: This season
5. Brendan Guhle, D
How acquired: Selected with No. 51 pick in 2015 NHL Draft
Last season: Buffalo: 18 GP, 0-5-5; Rochester (AHL): 50 GP: 8-18-26
The 20-year-old will compete for a spot on the second or third defense pair. The left-shot defenseman (6-2, 196) impressed in his short NHL stint last season.
"He brings an element to our back end there just with his speed," Botterill said. "Nowadays in the National Hockey League, [with] teams backchecking so much, so hard, the back pressure, you have to have your defensemen be able to create offense, and he certainly brings that dynamic there."
Projected NHL arrival: This season

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