While the main draw at Sabres development camp remains No. 1 overall pick Rasmus Dahlin, there’s another slick skating Swede the Sabres acquired in Lawrence Pilut. The Swedish Hockey League’s “Defenseman of the Year” joined the franchise for opportunity, he said, couldn’t pass up.
“Young team, and a hungry team here it feels like,” Pilut said after practice on Thursday. “I wanted to be a part of it and give it everything I’ve got.”
Along with Dahlin and Pilut, there are nearly a dozen prospects in the system from Sweden. They credit their country’s development program for helping them prepare to make the jump to the National Hockey League.
“You can play some junior games, get two or three senior games, then go back to juniors,” Asplund said. “Then you get that experience and try to develop more in juniors and then when you’re ready get some playing time in the SHL. So, I think that system is working better and better in Sweden.”
“Almost half the guys here are from Sweden so you can almost talk Swedish in the locker room to everybody now I feel like,” William Worge-Kreu said. “I know a bunch of guys back home play in the big league, like Lawrence Pilut and Victor Olofsson. These guys, it’s something I look up to so it’s really good, it’s helped a lot.”
Victor Olofsson is described as having an NHL caliber shot, and led the SHL with 27 goals last season. Rasmus Asplund is considered one of the top two-way centerman in the pipeline and both intend on contending for starting roles in the Fall.
“I feel like I’ve been growing every year, and especially after the season I had now, I was feeling confident and I’m really happy to be here,” Olofsson said.
“You know, playing with men for four years now, that prepared me pretty well for it,” added Asplund. “It’s hard work now for training camp and prepare for that.”