Impressions of, and questions concerning--F, Victor Olofsson
DOB: July 18, 1995 (age, 23)
Draft: 2014 seventh round (181st-overall)
How acquired: Drafted by Buffalo
Last contract signed: April 24, 2018; 2yr. ELC/$1.85 million ($1.35million total base salary)
Final year of contract: 2019-20
2018-19 Stats: 6 games | 2 goals | 2 assists | 4 points | +1 | 18:01 ATOI
Buffalo Career Stats: 6 games | 2 goals | 2 assists | 4 points | +1 | 18:01 ATOI
What we wrote preseason
What we wrote mid-season
Impressions on his play this year
: There was a good level of anticipation in Sabreland concerning Olofsson finally coming to North America. Although the Swedish winger was a seventh-rounder he had lit up the SHL for a league-leading 27 goals in 2017-18 before signing his entry-level deal with the Sabres in April. Buffalo was devoid of talent on the wing last summer before Jason Botterill traded for Jeff Skinner and Conor Sheary and even though Olofsson wasn't projected to play in Buffalo this past season, he brought more skill to an area in desperate need of it.
As Olofsson got off to a roaring start in Rochester with 12 points (5+7) in only six games expectations were heightened, especially as his totals included only one powerplay goal. Of Olofsson's 27 SHL goals, 14 came on the powerplay where he had plenty of space to uncork a wickedly accurate one-timer from the right faceoff circle in the Swedish league. Adjusting to a smaller North American rink was supposed to be a great hurdle for the 23 yr. old but those early numbers proved he could adapt and by the end of the season Olofsson led the Americans in all categories with 30 goals, 33 assists and 63 points in 66 AHL games with nine of his goals coming on the powerplay (2nd on the team.)
Olofsson added some bulk to his 5'11" frame this season as he was listed at 181 lbs. There were some minor concerns as to his ability to handle the tougher North American pro game but those fears were allayed as he performed extremely well in the regular season. Although he, like his Rochester teammates, struggled in the post season, his speed and maneuverability kept him out of trouble while his hockey sense got him to open ice where he could score. His 30 goals were the most for an Amerk since Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville in the 2004-05 season.
It would seem as if Olofsson has a had plenty of seasoning with four professional seasons (one in the AHL, three in the SHL) and one would expect he has a job to lose in Buffalo at training camp. The Sabres need skill and they could really use also a sniper on the opposite half-wall across from Eichel on the first powerplay unit. Like with winger Alexander Nylander (who should be up with the big club despite his waiver-exempt status,) new head coach Ralph Krueger needs to find a home for Olofsson. The former staff went heavy with vets and proved that they could lose with them, but they now have skilled youth at their disposal and Lord knows this team could use an influx of that.
Questions moving forward
: What's the status of Jeff Skinner? How will Olofsson fit in with or without Skinner in the lineup? Should Skinner re-sign with Buffalo, is there really any reason to keep Olofsson in Rochester? Would Krueger and his assistant coach use Olofsson on the top powerplay unit? Will that have the desired effect? Can he adapt in the NHL like he did in the AHL? Can the Sabres right the ship in a positive way so as not to stunt the development of their young players?
Contract info via CapFriendly, stats via sabres.com and hockey reference.com.