In mid-June, school is out and nature has burst into life. It seems like the sun never sets. In fact, in the north of Sweden it doesn’t, and in the south only for an hour or two. This calls for celebration! Friends and family gather for the most typically Swedish tradition of all: Midsummer.
The start of summer holidays
Swedes are fairly well attuned to the rhythms of nature. At Midsummer, many begin their five-week annual holidays and everyone is in a hurry to get things done during the relatively short summer season. Midsummer Eve is celebrated in the countryside − as always − and on the day before, everyone leaves town, everything closes and the city streets are suddenly spookily deserted.
The country’s main thoroughfares, on the other hand, are packed. Queues of cars stretch away into the distance, and at the end of the road, family and friends wait among silver birches in full, shimmering bloom.
Fire up the maypoles and dancing in the streets. Prepare the herring and new boiled potatoes.
Crack a few chilly IPA!s
It’s Rasmus Dahlin season in Sweden’s biggest suburb of Buffalo, New York.
When the Buffalo Sabres selected Rasmus Dahlin first overall on Friday night, it marked the first time since 1989 that a Swedish-born player was the top pick at the NHL Draft. The Quebec Nordiques selected Mats Sundin first overall in 1989.
There has been a loud hockey buzz that has been heard and felt from Buffalo to Brynäs ever since the Sabres won the NHL Draft Lottery on April 28.
The Buffalo Sabres have become infatuated with Swedish hockey players.
Pretty soon, Buffalo will be renamed Stockholm, New York.
I hear that IKEA wil be building a new flagship store in Buffalo in the near future.
The sales of Swedish Fish have risen dramatically in the past month.
The drafting of generational talent Rasmus Dahlin first overall at the 2018 NHL Draft has created a unique kinship between the Sabres and the country of Sweden.
Dahlin is the panacea for all that ails the Sabres organization. The years of suffering will end this season when Dahlin joins #SabresMafia along with Jack Eichel, Casey Mittelstadt, Samson Reinhart, Ryan O’Reilly, Rasmus Ristolainen, Jake McCabe and others. The chronic losing and last place finishes are a thing of the past. Drafting Dahlin is a much-needed puzzle piece to solidify Buffalo’s D corps. Dahlin will have a profound and immediate impact on the Buffalo offense as he will be flicking passes to forwards who are darting north with speed. Dahlin will be jumping and joining the rush which will no doubt create cleaner entries, extended zone time and far more chances on the enemy cage 200 feet from his own net.
Drafting and developing Swedish players has become a common practice for Sabres brass. Over the course of the past few seasons, the Sabres have invested many of their premium draft picks in Swedish hockey players. The Sabres have also signed several Swedish free agents.
Who can forget super Sabres Swedes Jhonas Enroth and Henrik Tallinder?
The love affair with Swedish player in Buffalo will continue for years to come with the drafting of Swedes Dahlin, Mattias Samuelsson, Linus Linstrand Cronholm, and William Worge Kreu.
In 2017-18, Robin Lehner, Jacob Josefson and Johan Larsson were mainstays in the starting lineup. Sabres GM Jason Botetrill said Friday that he would not be offering a qualifying offer to pending restricted free agent Lehner. Lehner’s departure opens the Buffalo crease to another accomplished Swedish goalie, Linus Ullmark. One door closes for a Swedish player while another door opens. Josefsson is now at home in Sweden where he will play this upcoming season for Djurgården.
The Sabres and Team Sweden share the same Blue & Gold color scheme. In the next couple of season, fans of Swedish hockey will see many of their heroes donning Blue & Gold Sabres sweaters in the NHL.
As of today, the Sabres now have 13 Swedes either drafted to or playing in their organization.
On Friday night, the Sabres invested the first overall pick in the NHL Draft in Rasmus Dahlin.
Will Dahlin wear sweater #26 in Buffalo like he did for Frolunda HC? Or, will he opt for #8? Inquiring minds want to know. Dahlin and all Sabres prospects will be in Buffalo this week to participate in the annual prospect development camp. Botterill and Sabres head coach Phil Houlsey will get an opportunity to get an up close and personal look at not only the substantial stockpile of Swedish players, as well as other top organizational prospects. The coaches will run the kids through on-ice drills and scrimmages as well as off-ice meetings and group discussions on what it is like to be a Buffalo Sabres hockey player and brand ambassador.
The Sabres selected four Swedes at this weekend’s NHL Draft in Dallas. All are expected to be in Buffalo this week.
Among them, a USA-born Swedish defenseman who has dual citizenship. Mattias Samuelsson was selected by Buffalo at #32, the first pick of the second round on Saturday morning.
Samuelsson, a 6’4” 200 lb. two-way defenseman is the son of Swedish legend Kjell Samuelsson, who played for the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins. Mattias Samuelsson was born in Vorhees, New Jersey, represents Team USA internationally.
Malmö defenseman Linus Lindstrand Kronholm (#117) and Linköping's William Norway Kreü (#187).
"It is absolutely unbelievable how many Swedes are in the organization. There are many young players who do not play in the team (Buffalo) as well. Many good guys I played in both Frölunda and the World Junior team”, says Rasmus Dahlin.
Why is Jason Botterill so passionate about drafting Swedish defensemen?
"In particular, they have shown that they are good at developing defensemen There are so many Swedish players that got into the league and played extremely well. There they have really been in the forefront of developing puck-moving defenders that all NHL teams are looking for. It is also true to us. They (Swedes) have qualities that we like in our organization”, said Botterill.
Current Buffalo-Sweden Connections
is the two-way center who has spent the past five seasons in Buffalo. Larson recently won the gold medal for his native Sweden at the IIHF World Championships in Denmark.
has played three seasons in AHL Rochester, where he was an All-Star performer the past two seasons. With Lehner leaving Buffalo, Ullmark will be given the opportunity to compete for the starting goalie job. Botterill has said that he is hopeful to acquire another veteran goalie for the Sabres either by trade or in free agency. Ullmark is not yet ready to play an 82-game schedule of games in the NHL. Botterill will protect Ullmark and play him in 40-45 games during his rookie season. Ullmark has started 26 games for the Sabres in his three-year career.
, the former Brynäs goalie was chosen by the Sabres in 2013 (3rd round). Johansson, who spent most of last season in the ECHL, has started only 14 games for the Rochester Americans.
, the Swedish defenseman with the American father, was signed by the Sabres as a free agent. Pilut has been one of the best defensemen in the Swedish Elite League for HV71, where he earned the honor of “Best Defenseman” in the the SEL. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Pilut can play for the Sabres this season.
, is the big defenseman who was drafted in the sixth round in 2016. Nyberg is entering his junior season at the University of Connecticut. He could make his debut for the Amerks after his NCAA season ends in early 2019.
It’s make or break time for Alexander Nylander
(RW/LW), who was elected as eighth overall in the 2016. This kid has world-class talent but it just hasn’t translated to the AHL and NHL. Yet. We know he was born with it. We have seen him dangled, snipe and celly at the past three IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship tournaments. When he’s confident and on his game, Nylander reminds me of Washington Capitals forward Nick Backstrom. He’s poised, polished, and skilled to the max. However, he must commit to competing inside each and every shift. Nylander reminds me a lot of former Sabres sniper Max Afinogenov. Sick talent with so much swagger and style. Shows glimpses of it in AHL and NHL. Brings it 100% for his country at international tournaments. Nylander just 18 goals and and 37 assists for 55 points in 116 games played for the Amerks. What is Nylander waiting for? Botterill didn’t draft him. Tim Murray did. If he wants to be a full time NHL and play alongside Jack Eichel, Casey Mittelstadt, Rasmus Dahlin and the rest of Buffalo’s high skill players, he better get out of his own head and start giving everything he’s got to Phil Housley and Chris Taylor.
(LW) was a steal for the Sabres in the seventh round of the 2014 NHL Draft. I’ve never seen a Sabres prospect with a better shot than Olofsson. Dude has a bomb for a shot. The slick left winger starred for Frölunda along with Dahlin this past season, where in 50 games he scored 27 goals and 16 assists in 43 games. For that he was awarded a two-year contract of Sabres. Will fight for a place in the team this fall. Olofsson signed his two-year entry level contract with Buffalo in April. The 22-year-old will make his Amerks debut this fall.
(LW) was Buffalo’s seventh round selection at the 2017 NHL Draft last summer. He recently completed his successful freshman season at the University of Wisconsin, where he scored 10 goals and 16 assists in 34 games. His head coach Tony Granato raved about Weissbach’s compete and attention to detail.
Intelligent two-way center Marcus Davidsson
(C) was chosen in the second round of the 2017 NHL Draft. Davidsson had himself a great season with Djurgården. He scored 9 goals and 12 assists SHL games and won the World Juniors silver medal in Buffalo with Nylander and Dahlin.
, (C), is only 20 years old, however, was the 33rd pick at the 2016 NHL Draft. Asplund has already played 170 games in the Swedish Elite League. He is so smart and so competitive. Asplund been a consistent performer for Faärjestad and is now ready to transition to AHL Rochester. He has nothing left to prove in Sweden. This kid’s future is so bright. He’s a relentless worker and his game is tailor made for
Add in Mattias Samuelsson, Linus Linstrand Cronholm, and William Worge Kreu and the love affair continues.