After taking the lengthy highway to the NHL, Victor Olofsson is off to sizzling begin in his rookie marketing campaign with Buffalo and proof that affected person growth pays dividends for organizations that take their time with promising prospects.Victor Olofsson|Invoice Wippert/NHLI by way of Getty ImagesThe Buffalo Sabres haven’t had all that a lot success within the ultimate spherical of the draft for the reason that NHL moved to a seven-round format practically 15 years in the past. Granted, few groups have, however since 2005, Brady Austin, he of zero factors in 5 big-league video games, was the lone Sabres seventh rounder to skate in an NHL recreation previous to final season. After which got here Victor Olofsson.
Olofsson, 24, has been a revelation of kinds early within the marketing campaign. A standout within the AHL final season who earned a six-game stint with the Sabres final season, Olofsson shone in coaching camp and posted a three-goal pre-season en path to incomes himself a spot not solely on the Buffalo roster to begin the season, however an opportunity to skate on the Sabres’ high line alongside Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart. And Olofsson, who was chosen 181st total in 2014, has made essentially the most of his early alternative. In two video games this younger season, he’s chipped in two targets and three factors, which brings his NHL complete to a powerful 4 targets and 7 factors in eight video games.
It’s a small pattern dimension, sure, however his early success additionally correlates together with his current, pre-NHL manufacturing. He’s solely two seasons faraway from a Swedish League-leading 27-goal season, and it was simply final season that Olofsson netted 30 targets as an AHL rookie, the second-most amongst all AHL freshmen. And utilizing Dobber Prospect’s PNHLe projection, which initiatives potential NHL statistics utilizing scoring information from previous performances in different leagues, it’s not unrealistic to counsel Olofsson can hold this up. His output outdoors the NHL indicated he had 35- to 40-goal potential.
Early on, it has helped that Olofsson suits into the short, all-out assault type coach Ralph Krueger appears to need to play in Buffalo. It has additionally helped that Olofsson, a extra offensive-minded ahead, has been aided by two sturdy two-way gamers in Eichel and Reinhart. The dynamics have labored. However seemingly the largest affect on Olofsson’s early success is the journey he’s taken to get to the NHL.
Again in 2014, when he was drafted, Olofsson had proven loads of upside with a 32-goal efficiency in Sweden’s SuperElit circuit, and although he had failed to attain in any of the 11 SHL video games by which he performed, it was clear there was potential. And whereas it took a couple of years on the professional degree for Olofsson to uncover that potential, he has skilled a fast rise since his 14-goal, 29-point 2015-16 marketing campaign with MODO. In that sense, Olofsson isn’t not like different European imports who’re making their NHL debuts this season – Elvis Merzlikins (Columbus Blue Jackets, 25), Nikita Gusev (New Jersey Devils, 27), Joakim Nygard (Edmonton Oilers, 26), Gaetan Haas (Edmonton Oilers, 27) and Ilya Mikheyev (Toronto Maple Leafs, 24) – in that he frolicked previous to his NHL arrival as an essential piece on European sides.
Spending extra time abroad was seemingly all the time going to be the trail for Olofsson, in fact. Seventh-round picks aren’t anticipated to make fast jumps to the NHL. However the clever transfer the Sabres made was permitting him to enhance again dwelling earlier than bringing him over. Taking part in towards males whereas nonetheless a junior-aged participant helped, simply because it helps most of the top-tier European prospects make clean transitions as rookies. As an illustration, when Kaapo Kakko made his NHL debut final week, it wasn’t an enormous change for the star prospect as a result of he already had a full season of professional underneath his belt. In Olofsson’s case, he had three years of expertise earlier than the transition to North America final season. As soon as he adjusted to the smaller ice, he was harmful. It additionally doesn’t harm that he’s a number of years older than quite a few his rookie counterparts.
Giving Olofsson the additional time to marinate abroad has not solely helped the participant, however now it stands to help a group in determined want of scoring assist. Previous to Skinner’s 40-goal 2018-19 season, the final Sabre to eclipse 30 targets in a season was Jason Pominville in 2011-12. And whereas it’s clearly nonetheless far too early to imagine a 30-goal marketing campaign for Olofsson, his expertise, his AHL output, his PNHLe projections and his pairing with a playmaker of Eichel’s caliber doesn’t make it so far-fetched. And even when he falls brief, his efficiency early ought to give Sabres followers cause to consider that the wait has been value it.
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Tags: buffalo sabres, nhlConnect: In regards to the AuthorSteven EllisSteven Ellis is a Digital Content material Producer for The Hockey Information. He spends his free time listening to music you would not like and watches obnoxiously-long motor races.