BUFFALO – Early in the winter at the world junior championship, NHL Draft prospect Rasmus Asplund centered Alexander Nylander, the winger the Sabres drafted eighth overall Friday.
Clearly, the Sabres liked the chemistry the two showcased together representing Sweden, as they drafted Asplund, 18, with the 33rd pick this morning inside the First Niagara Center.
“He was one of the guys I had the best chemistry with in my whole career,” an excited Asplund said.
The 5-foot-11, 176-pound Asplund scored four goals and 12 points in 46 games with Farjestads BK Karlstad in the Swedish Hockey League last season.
“I think I’m a strong-skating, two-way center, sees guys real well, really make the guys he plays with better,” Asplund said.
The Sabres acquired the Asplund pick with defenseman Dmitri Kulikov from the Florida Panthers for defenseman Mark Pysyk and the 38th and 89th picks.
Having the Sabres move up to grab him was special, Asplund said.
“It proved that they really believe in me and really want me to get here,” he said.
Asplund said he will likely play in Sweden again next season. He said he spoke to the Sabres two or three times before the draft.
The Sabres drafted Cliff Pu, a 6-foot-2, 193-pound winger from the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights, 69th overall. Pu, 18, had 12 goals and 31 points in 63 games last season before scoring eight goals and 13 points in 18 playoff contests.
“I try to play like someone like Jeff Carter,” Pu said. “He used his size and speed to his advantage. I got a lot more skill to try to match.”
The Sabres drafted Casey Fitzgerald, a 5-foot-10, 186-pound defenseman from Boston College, 86th overall. Fitzgerald, 19, had four goals and 29 points in 37 games last season. He was passed over in the draft last year.
“I’m a two-way defender,” Fitzgerald said. “I think I can play both ends. I’m steady in the defensive end … and I can jump up in the rush.”
Fitzgerald’s father, Tom, played 1,097 NHL games and is the New Jersey Devils’ assistant general manager.
The Sabres drafted Brett Murray, a 6-foot-4, 217-pound winger with the junior Carleton Place Canadiens, 99th overall. Murray, 17, had 14 goals and 48 points in 46 games last season. He plans to attend Penn State University in the fall.
“I like to play a power forward role, obviously use my size to win one-on-one battles in the corners, down low on the wall,” Murray said.
The Sabres drafted Philip Nyberg, a 6-foot-3, 189-pound Swedish defenseman from Linkoping HC J20, 129th overall. Nyberg, 19, plans to play at the University of Wisconsin this fall.
With the next pick, the Sabres selected Vojtech Budik, a 6-foot-1, defenseman with the Western Hockey League’s Prince Albert Raiders. Budik, 18, had three goals and 16 points in 70 games.
“I’m a two-way defenseman,” Budik said.
The Sabres drafted Brandon Hagel, a 5-foot-11, 161-pound winger with the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels, 159th overall. Hagel, 17, had 13 goals and 47 points in 72 games last season.
The Sabres grabbed East Aurora’s, Austin Osmanski, a 6-foot-3, 196-pound defenseman from the Ontario Hockey’s League’s Mississauga Steelheads, Nylander’s team, 189th overall. Osmanski had two goals and 10 points in 63 games last season.
With the next pick, the Sabres took Vasily Glotov, a 5-foot-11, 158-pound Russian center from LVY St. Petersburg 2. Glotov, 18, had 23 goals and 32 points in 42 games last season.