Victor Olofsson celebrates his goal Wednesday in Toronto. ©2024, Micheline Veluvolu

Following trade, Sabres’ Victor Olofsson earns another chance, scores goal

TORONTO – Prior to Wednesday’s game, Don Granato told Victor Olofsson to talk to him. The Sabres had just traded center Casey Mittelstadt. The coach needed to know if the seldom-used winger was ready to play.

Granato feared Olofsson, having last dressed for a game Feb. 15, could be put in a tough spot.

“He looked at me with 100 percent confidence and said, ‘I’m ready to go,’” Granato said after Olofsson scored the Sabres’ only goal in their 2-1 overtime loss to the Maple Leafs in Scotiabank Arena. “And, obviously, he was. That was a very big goal and very nice to see him persevere and cash in.”

Olofsson, 28, scored 6:31 into the second period, utilizing his wicked wrist shot to tie the game from the left circle. The Swede has scored 88 times for the Sabres, but he said Wednesday’s goal, his fifth this season and first since Dec. 7, “felt a little bit extra good.”

“It was great, definitely,” he told the Times Herald after ending his 20-game goal drought.

Olofsson hasn’t experienced many great moments this season, likely his last in Buffalo. He has morphed into a spare part, sitting out nine straight games as healthy scratch before Wednesday. He had been a bystander 21 of the last 27 contests. He missed some of those games, however, because of illness.

“It’s not fun,” said Olofsson, who also played in Thursday’s road game against the Nashville Predators. “I’ve been watching most games and just trying to stay ready and be ready when I’m in lineup again.”

On Wednesday, he said he felt better than he expected while skating 11 minutes, 52 seconds, mostly at right wing alongside center Peyton Krebs and rookie Zach Benson. The line was also on the ice for the Leafs’ first goal.

“The thing is when you’re not playing you’re able to work out a little bit more and skate a little bit more,” Olofsson said. “And I feel like I’m in good shape. I felt pretty comfortable out there, honestly.”

Olofsson, who can become an unrestricted free agent following the season, could draw interest before Friday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline. He scored a career-high 28 goals last season and has proven to be a force on the power play. He has improved his five-on-five production and Granato said earlier this season he has developed into a more aggressive and better player.

“He is an absolute great person and a worker,” Granato said Wednesday.

Still, Olofsson, who’s in the second season of a two-year, $9.5 million contract, can’t crack the lineup regularly and is likely out of the Sabres’ plans.

A strong finish will certainly make him an intriguing option if he hits the open market.

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