The Buffalo Sabres came into NHL Draft weekend with seven total selections. When the Vegas Golden Knights had the interest of selecting Linus Ullmark in the Expansion Draft, the Sabres needed to deter them by supplying them with a sixth-round pick and in return Vegas selected Will Carrier instead.
Losing Carrier was still somewhat of an inconvenience for the team considering that Carrier was likely to graduate and play with the big club full-time next season. Their eighth overall selection and supply of budding prospects that are NHL-ready would quickly put the departure of Will Carrier in the rearview mirror though.
Casey Mittelstadt: 1st round, 8th overall
Buffalo had a little surprise fall into their lap with Casey Mittelstadt sliding to eighth overall. Ranked third among North American skaters by Central Scouting and fifth by Future Considerations and McKeen’s, Mittelstadt was predicted to be gone before the Sabres and General Manager Jason Botterill took the stage. The University of Minnesota commit put up 2.56 points per game in high school and 1.25 points per game with the Green Bay Gamblers in the USHL.
Mittelstadt is an unbelievable offensive product. A true threat from anywhere on the ice, he uses speed intellect and his hands to burn defenders on even the simplest of plays. When Casey plays it looks like he truly believes that he is taking the puck and creating a goal. Whether it is with his shot, a quick deke, or a cross ice dish through a tight space he will beat any napping defenseman. While he has a smaller frame, Casey will take on all challengers. He may not come out on the successful end 100% of the time, but it is not for lack of trying. Mittelstadt can easily develop a power and strength side to his game at university and become an even more complete player.
Marcus Davidsson: 2nd round, 37th overall
Davidsson is a skater that could have made his way to the first round but ultimately stuck where most projected him at, at a couple of picks outside of the opening round. Davidsson does not put up a lot of sexy numbers overseas with Djurgardens IF, but anyone who has watched him play can see the upside in his game. He is very good at the faceoff dot and plays a heavy and strong two-way game.
Rasmus Asplund, who was selected in the second round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft by the Buffalo Sabres, is a very similar prospect to Davidsson. Both play the same two-way style and can hold their own during the faceoff. Davidsson lacks some of the offensive mind that Asplund has, but he can control his own zone efficiently and with consistency. Davidsson is a great penalty killer to boot.
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen: 2nd round, 54th overall
The Sabres selected the number one ranked European goalie according to Central Scouting in Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen. His name is definitely a mouthful and Luukkonen fills the net just as well. He has a decent frame and he had outstanding reflexes inside the posts.
He doesn’t rely on reactionary saves, but when the situation calls for it he can sprawl for the amazing desperation save. He has the stability to control play so that it does not come to that most of the time. Can close angles quickly. Is predicted by many to start in goal for Team Finland at the 2018 World Junior Championship.
Oskari Laaksonen: 3rd round, 89th overall
The Buffalo Sabres took an unknown defenseman in the third round. Central Scouting did not have him ranked and none of the big scouting services had him in their rankings. No one even knew is correct height and weight (he later cleared it up on Twitter as 6’0” and 152 lbs.). Laaksonen is a right shot defenseman that is in the Ilves system in Liiga. He has not put up huge numbers with the U20 team, only getting to a total of 19 points in 37 games.
Laaksonen is a two-way defenseman in some instances but can also be classified as a transition defenseman. He moves the puck very well and has very good vision. Has impressive offensive instincts and can execute skilled set-ups from the blueline. Without a doubt, Laaksonen will need to add size and develop aggressiveness to his game. He could certainly turn out to be a solid defenseman in the future, but will need a lot of time.
Jacob Bryson: 4th round, 99th overall
Jacob Bryson is a 1997 overager who is from London, ON but decided to go the University route instead heading to junior. He is entering his sophomore season at Providence after putting up 20 points in 39 games with Friars last year.
Bryson is a pure offensive defenseman. With small stature at 5’9” and 179 lbs. He is fast and has a fluid stride but lacks strength in his own end. Has great vision and a sneaky good shot. Plays a lot of time on the powerplay and sometimes finds himself quarterbacking the man advantage.
Linus Weissbach: 7th round
This future Wisconsin Badger put up very good number with Tri-City in the USHL last year, scoring 19 goals and 28 assists in 49 games. Weissbach was ranked 139th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting and was projected as a seventh rounder elsewhere in the scouting community.
Linus Weissbach is a magician with the puck. He has hands that make the opposition look silly. He uses his hands and quick feet to dart and deke out opponents and has an underrated shot that goalies are not expecting when he catches open ice. His season highlights show bright flashes of offensive genius and truly unbelievable goals. He does not have strength in his game on either ends of the ice and his skating could be tweaked.
Brendan Guhle had his best season yet in terms of offensive production this year after he was traded from the Prince Albert Raiders to the Prince George Cougars. He put up 29 points in 32 games with the Cougars, and was on pace to put up more but was set back by an ankle injury. Guhle will be playing his first full pro season next year. It is still not known if it is with the Sabres or with the Rochester Americans. Either way Guhle is poised to have a very successful year thanks to his skating ability and playmaking skills.
Alexander Nylander struggled a little bit in his first professional season with the Americans. He posted 28 points in 65 games but did have flashes where he showed his true potential. In his short stint with the Sabres, Nylander had strong games and he had rather poor games, but he still had strong puck skills and decision when it came to him. The only real poor consistency that he had was his lack of strength and how he would get beat off of the puck.
The Buffalo Sabres’ development camp will take place from July 8th to July 11th. The team has not released an official roster so the full list of invites is not known, but from some reports it looks like the Sabres have invited:
Oshawa Generals G Kyle Keyser
Penn State D Erik Autio
Sudbury Wolves G Jake McGrath
For updates and insight into the Buffalo Sabres development camp, follow me on Twitter @MarkoLWOS. Feel free to ask any questions!