Victor Olofsson has scord six goals this season. ©2024, Micheline Veluvolu

As career in Buffalo nears end, Victor Olofsson helping Sabres again

DETROIT – Finally, nine months later, Sabres winger Victor Olofsson can settle in and enjoy what will almost certainly be his final days in Buffalo.

Right now, the affable Swede has a regular spot in the lineup again and a place on the power play – where he’s most dangerous – as the Sabres fight for a playoff spot.

Last spring, when his disappointing 2022-23 season ended, Olofsson, 28, began waiting to be traded. Then winger Jack Quinn tore his Achilles tendon during an offseason workout, so the Sabres decided to keep him.

Olofsson’s early-season struggles only further illustrated a change of scenery would probably benefit both sides. He asked general manager Kevyn Adams to be dealt.

Fair or not, Olofsson has a reputation for being a one-dimensional player. He wasn’t scoring or playing much. Not surprisingly, Adams couldn’t find anyone to take the remaining months of a contract that pays him $4.75 million this season.

When the trade deadline passed last Friday, Adams said he had “been really hoping I was going to be able to move him today.”

“I’ve been kind of having it in the back of my mind that I’m probably going to get moved,” Olofsson said following Friday’s practice in KeyBank Center. “At the deadline, I was just kind of waiting for a call but (it) never happened.”

He added: “I don’t think a lot of people thought, including myself, I was still going to be here.”

Still, an opportunity has materialized for Olofsson. The Sabres traded two forwards last week, Casey Mittelstadt and captain Kyle Okposo, creating spots up front.

“That’s what’s most important to him, getting in, showing that he can be the NHL player that he’s been before,” Adams said of Olofsson, who scored a career-high 28 goals last season but ended the year as a healthy scratch. “… I really hope he finishes the season strong and can parlay that into the next chapter of his career.”

Barring an injury, Olofsson should play the final 15 games this season as the surging Sabres, who have won three straight contests, push for a playoff spot. They begin a five-game road trip this afternoon against the Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena.

He has at least one month to showcase his talents and show 31 other teams he’s worthy of a contract for next season.

Since returning to the lineup – he had sat out 21 of the previous 25 games – he has contributed to the Sabres’ success. In his first game back March 6 in Toronto, he scored his first goal since Dec. 7 in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Maple Leafs.

In Thursday’s 4-0 home win over the New York Islanders, his second-period power play goal from below the right circle, an area where he has often utilized his lethal shot, opened the scoring and gave the Sabres momentum.

“I still see myself as an offensive player, a goal scorer,” the five-year veteran said. “That’s (how) I feel like the best way I can help the team is to produce some big goals.”

Olofsson hadn’t scored a power-play goal all season after losing his spot. Now, he has another chance on the man advantage.

“He’s earned that privilege,” Sabres coach Don Granato said of playing on the power play. “I think that’s another part of his confidence for him, he knows he’s earned it.”

As Olofsson struggled and fell out of the lineup, his commitment and professionalism impressed Adams and Granato. He never changed.

“I don’t know if you guys understand quite how difficult it is for someone like Vic that scored 28 goals last year and had a career and has a contract up to be kind of going through (this),” Adams said. “… First thing in the morning (he has a) smile on his face.”

Olofsson, having played five straight games for the first time since December, has finally found a rhythm again.

He has recently skated at right wing alongside center Tyson Jost and Lukas Rousek or Eric Robinson. Granato trusts the line enough he told the players last week to stay on the ice if Edmonton Oilers superstar Connor McDavid came out.

“I’ve been playing with Josty a lot,” said Olofsson, who has compiled six goals, 14 points and a plus-3 rating in 40 games this season. “We played a lot last year. I feel like we know each other really well on the ice and kind of where we have each other. I feel like we kind of play the same way.

“We like to play with the puck and (we’re) kind of looking for each other in the O-zone a lot. I feel like we’ve had a great chemistry there.”

Granato said Quinn, who underwent surgery after suffering a lower-body injury Jan. 27, skated for the first time Friday.

The Sabres have no timetable for his return.

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