BUFFALO – In January, defenseman Henri Jokiharju earned a gold medal at the World Junior Championship on a Finnish squad that featured Sabres prospects Oskari Laaksonen and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen.
Jokiharju grew up with Laaksonen, another defenseman, in Tampere, and is one of his best friends. Jokiharju and Luukkonen, a youngster tabbed as Buffalo’s goalie of the future, played together with Team Finland at tournaments as teenagers.
After World Juniors, Jokiharju, 20, probably figured he ... Read the full article
BUFFALO – Barely two years ago, unless you had spent time scouring the Finnish junior leagues for draft talent, the name Oskari Laaksonen wasn’t familiar to you.
NHL Central Scouting and other notable services didn’t even rank the Finnish defenseman. Googling his name would return some stats, that’s about it.
So when the Sabres grabbed Laaksonen 89th overall at the NHL Draft in 2017, going way off the board in the third round, the selection ... Read the full article
Not much has changed for ex-Sabres center Ryan O’Reilly in St. Louis. The Blues utilize him constantly, relying on him to play big minutes. Just like in Buffalo, the versatile center quickly seized his opportunities, morphing into perhaps his new team’s best player.
And just like in Buffalo, O’Reilly has endured a lot of losing.
The Blues, one of the NHL’s heavyweights for years, just missed the playoffs last season, earning 94 points. When they ... Read the full article
BUFFALO – Instead of being relied upon to produce offense, ex-Sabres winger Tyler Ennis is now a fourth-liner.
Sure, Ennis, 29, skates on the Toronto Maple Leafs’ second power-play unit. The former first-round pick even started the season on the No. 1 line beside center Auston Matthews and Patrick Marleau.
But Ennis is no longer the ultra-slick presence from his early days. The concussions he suffered in his final seasons with the Sabres helped stymie ... Read the full article
BUFFALO – Sabres prospect Victor Olofsson had never heard of hockey’s biggest defense prospect until two seasons ago, when Rasmus Dahlin joined Frölunda HC as a 16-year-old.
During their first practice together in the Swedish Hockey League, Dahlin made Olofsson look silly.
“He got the puck on the blue line and I was going out toward him, and he just put it between my legs and scores,” Olofsson said Wednesday after the Sabres opened development ... Read the full article
BUFFALO – Why not try something different, right? The reeling Sabres have lost five straight games and 33 of their 43 outings this season.
Starting goalie Linus Ullmark tonight against the Columbus Blue Jackets is worth a try.
Sabres coach Phil Housley, who criticized his goaltending in Tuesday’s 7-4 loss to Winnipeg, said Ullmark will receive his first NHL nod since last season’s finale.
... Read the full article
BUFFALO – Sabres prospect Oskari Laaksonen figured the text message from his agent couldn’t be true, that someone had to be playing a prank on him.
“I’m like, ‘No, this is something fake,’” the defenseman recalled Sunday following a session of development camp inside HarborCenter.
But the news Laaksonen received June 24 was real. The Sabres had just selected the unknown Finn in the third round, 89th overall, at the NHL Draft.... Read the full article
CHICAGO – When Jason Botterill was named Buffalo Sabres general manager May 11, he entered what he called a “different situation.”
The Sabres also fired amateur scouting director Greg Royce with GM Tim Murray on April 20. Botterill inherited Jeff Crisp, the team’s head amateur scout, and Murray’s old scouts.
So Botterill only had six weeks to prepare for the NHL Draft with Crisp and his new staff, not exactly ideal.... Read the full article
CHICAGO – Forget about the quick fix. The Buffalo Sabres left the NHL Draft festivities with six prospects and nothing else.
As trade activity engulfed the NHL over the past few days, new Sabres general manager Jason Botterill stayed quiet, choosing to take the patient approach.
Botterill, the hockey world learned, will remake the Sabres, a team six years removed from its last playoff appearance, at his own speed. Outside expectations won’t influence the 41-year-old, ... Read the full article
CHICAGO – The Sabres drafted Swedish center Marcus Davidsson in the second round, 37th overall, this morning.
The 6-foot, 192-pound Davidsson had five goals and nine points last season with Djurgårdens of the Swedish Hockey League. The 18-year-old also played with Djurgårdens’ under-20 team in 2016-17, scoring six goals and 10 points in nine outings.
Davidsson is NHL Central Scouting’s 12th-ranked European skater.
Update: In the second round, 54th overall, the Sabres have selected Ukko-Pekka ... Read the full article