We’re two months into the NHL season and the Sabres continue to struggle, but the prospects within the organization are still giving fans a reason to be excited for the future. Here’s the latest update on the top Sabres prospects:
Brendan Guhle, D, Rochester Americans
Guhle has continued his strong start to his first full season in the AHL, and his play continues to be encouraging about his future as a legit top NHL Defenceman. Through 21 games played Guhle has put five goals and nine assists for a total of 14 points.
Last Farm Report I said I’d like to see Guhle get his shot at the NHL soon, I still would like to see him get a call-up but also have realized that Botterill’s plan to keep him in Rochester to develop makes more sense. He is thriving in the AHL and has a chance to help lead the Americans on a playoff run before making the jump to the NHL next season.
Casey Mittelstadt, C/W, University of Minnesota (NCAA)
Mittelstadt continues to impress in the NCAA, he is fitting in perfectly with the Gophers and is a vital part of their success so far this season. Through 17 games played Mittelstadt has amassed five goals and 10 assists for 15 points. Mittelstadt has also been named to USA’s preliminary roster for the World Junior tournament, and a strong showing in that tournament will go a long way to boosting his confidence even further as he gears up for a National Championship push.
Fans who are worried that Mittelstadt will go the Vesey route need to relax. Mittelstadt’s numbers in the NCAA are the numbers of a player who doesn’t need to be in college for four years. I still think there is a good chance we see Mittelstadt sign an ATO with Rochester at the end of the year with his entry level deal kicking in next season.
Alex Nylander, LW, Rochester Americans
Since returning from an injury Nylander has played nicely for Rochester, he has appeared in eight games scoring once and adding three assists. His four points may not be overwhelming but when watching Nylander play you can see his speed and skill that make him an intriguing prospect.
Nylander could potentially play for Sweden at the World Juniors but I’d much rather see him stay in Rochester to adjust to the pro game and continue developing. Nylander has the potential to be an amazing NHL player as long as he continues developing properly, and fans should be excited that he’s back playing in the AHL.
Will Borgen, D, St. Cloud State (NCAA)
Borgen is continuing his nice season for St. Cloud State, through his 13 games he has scored once and added seven assists for eight points. With Borgen’s help St. Cloud is 11-2-0 and ranked second in the nation. Borgen will be a huge factor going forward as the Huskies look to push for a berth in the NCAA tournament.
If the Sabres can convince Borgen to sign with them at the end of the season they would instantly add to the lack of depth in the organization. If Botterill can convince him to make the jump to pro after this season it would be a huge win for the Sabres’ future.
Linus Weissbach, LW, Wisconsin (NCAA)
Weissbach has been a pleasant surprise fort he Badgers this season, the seventh rounder has scored five goals and added eight assists in 16 games played. His offensive abilities have been on full display since joining the Badgers.
CJ Smith, LW, Rochester Americans
Smith has continued to be one of Rochester’s best players, he has torn up the AHL so far this season. Smith’s seven goals and 16 points are good for 23 points in 22 games played. His 23 points have him ranked ninth in AHL scoring and tied for second among AHL rookies behind Tuscon’s Dylan Strome.
Smith has been integral to Rochester’s success this season and it looks like he will be their top offensive producer going forward. If Smith continues his scoring pace he could be in the running for a few awards at the end of the season. Smith is a definite option for the Sabres’ top six next season and fans should be excited about Smith especially since his signing was kind of pushed aside as no big deal.
Rasmus Asplund, C, Farjestad BK (SHL/Sweden)
Asplund is contuning a good season over in Sweden, he has scored four goals and added 12 assists for 16 points in 26 games. Asplund continues to show why he is a top prospect in the Sabres organization, he is an excellent two-way center who will be in North America as soon as next season.
If Asplund continues to develop his two-way game there is a chance he could skip Rochester and slot in as the Sabres third line center next season. If Asplund makes the jump straight to the NHL next year our bottom six gets a huge and much needed upgrade, as he will likely replace Larsson on the depth chart and eliminating any useless player like Larsson is a big win.
Cliff Pu, C, London Knights (OHL)
Pu has been stellar for the Knights this season and he continues to be a force in the OHL. So far this season Pu has scored 13 goals and added 22 assists for 35 points in 27 games played. Unfortunately for Pu he was left off the Canadian roster for the World Juniors, but if Pu can use the snub as motivation he should takeoff in the second half of the OHL season and help lead London into the playoffs.
Like Asplund, Pu is a definite top nine forward in the NHL. Given his impressive NHL training camp last year and his play in the OHL Pu will definitely be in Sabres camp next year until the very end, and if he plays well enough could earn a roster spot to start next season.
Victor Olofsson, RW, Frolunda HC (SHL/Sweden)
Olofsson has become the most intriguing prospect in the organization. The 22-year-old has been developing in Sweden and has become one of the best goal scorers in the Swedish Elite league. Using his excellent release and shooting ability Olofsson has scored 13 goals while adding eight assists for 21 points in 23 games. He also has four goals and four assists in Champions Hockey League action.
Olofsson should be brought over to North America as soon as possible, his level of play this year in Europe is impossible to ignore. His scoring ability would be welcomed in Buffalo, adding him to lineup and the power play would be an instant improvement as few players can shoot the way he can. Fans should be ecstatic to have him in the organization and excited at potentially having him in Buffalo as soon as next year.
Marcus Davidsson, C/W, Djurgardens IF (SHL/Sweden)
Davidsson has continued to improve in his first season in the Swedish Elite league, he has scored twice while adding seven assists for nine points in 22 games. He is another speedy two-way center who the Sabres are hoping can make an impact in the organization in the future.
Davidsson has earned an invite to the Swedish preliminary camp for the World Juniors and has a good shot at making the team. Fans in Buffalo should keep an eye out for him at the tournament as this is our first chance to see how he stacks up against the best junior players in the world.
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, G, LeKi (Mestis/Finland)
Luukkonen continues to keep his team in games, he doesn’t have the best team in front of him but has been able to put up solid numbers and giving his team a chance to win every game he’s in. In 17 games he has a 2.82 GAA and a 0.914 SV%, improving each and every game he plays.
Luukkonen has earned an invite to Finland’s World Junior Camp and has a solid chance at making the roster. Luukkonen is big, very athletic and has the ability to steal games for his team, he should be able to help Finland improve their standing from last World Juniors.
As stated before there isn’t a rush to get him over to North America, the Sabres have Ullmark as the potential goalie of the future for now but don’t be surprised if Luukkonen turns into the goalie of the future.
For more updates on Sabres prospects follow @SabresFanatics and myself @austin_broad
stats were provided by eliteprospects.com