With four of the five Sabres prospects in action today, here is everything you need to know about their performances:
Vojtech Budik, D, Czech Republic
Budik and the Czechs won a close one against Belarus, barely edging out a 6-5 victory. Budik recorded two assists in the contest, and showed some promise as a prospect. He is a very smooth skater, he can move the puck well and most importantly has solid defensive awareness. Budik won’t wow anyone with his style of play but he is won’t make a crucial mistake that costs his team either. So far he has two assists in three games, and has looked very good most of the time, whether or not he becomes anything is still to be seen but he’s had a solid tournament so far.
Marcus Davidsson, C, Sweden
Davidsson and the Swedes cruised to a 7-2 victory over the Swiss, and Davidsson had another strong showing. While Davidsson didn’t record any points he put his skills on display. He used his speed and strength to draw a penalty that eventually led to Sweden’s first goal of the game. Later he use his skating ability again to get open and if not for Mateo Ritz making a great save Davidsson would have scored his second of the tournament. Davidsson reminds me a lot of Asplund, he’s a great skater with skill and soli defensive capabilities that would help make him a solid two-way forward. So far he has one goal in three games, but his offence doesn’t define him to truly see his value you have to watch him play.
Alex Nylander, LW, Sweden
Nylander was solid for the most part in Sweden’s dismantling of Switzerland, he and the rest of the big three (Petterson and Andersson) put on a show at times and made the game look easy. Nylander recorded an assist on the first goal of the game after some pretty passing. Later, Nylander froze the defence and feathered a perfect pass to Petterson who socred, normally Nylander would have had an assist but because of strange IIHF scoring rules he didn’t get credited with one. Nylander has five points in three games and at times has looked dominant, which is exactly what we want to see, however he still needs to improve in some areas.
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, G, Finland
Luukkonen had his best performance of the tournament in a 5-2 win against the Slovaks. Much like the rest of the tournament, Luukkonen’s size and mobility in the crease were on display today. He made 11 saves and gave up 2 goals, but helped his team get the win. Luukkonen has all of the raw tools a solid goalie needs to have, but he will have to work on his angles, and ability to track pucks before he can make the next step. Luukkonen will be huge for Finland if they want to make some noise in the Medal rounds, and I would expect him and his 2-1-0 record to get the net in the New Years Eve showdown against the Mittelstadt and the United States.
Sabres fans should be very happy with the show their prospects have put on so far, in what has been one of the better tournaments I can remember Sabres prospects are all making big contributions to their team and today all four prospects came out with big wins for their countries.