DALLAS — The Buffalo Sabres selected five players on the second day of the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center in Dallas. These five selections join Buffalo’s first-round pick, defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, to complete the team’s 2018 draft class, which includes one forward and five defensemen.
Buffalo began the day by selecting defenseman Mattias Samuelsson (6’4”, 218 lbs., 3/14/2000) with the first pick of the second round, No. 32 overall. Samuelsson spent the 2017-18 season with the USA Hockey NTDP, where he finished second among the team’s defensemen with 31 points (11+20) in 58 games. He also served as Team USA’s captain during the 2018 IIHF World U18 Championship, helping to lead his team to a silver medal en route to being named one of the top three players on his team.
The Philadelphia native was ranked as the No. 21 North American skater according to NHL Central Scouting. He is the son of Kjell Samuelsson, who played parts of 14 seasons in the NHL and won a Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1992.
With their first of two fourth-round picks, the Sabres selected Matej Pekar (6’0”, 170 lbs., 2/10/2000) at 94th overall. Pekar was named USHL Rookie of the Year in 2017-18 after he tied for the rookie league lead with 54 points (14+40) in 56 games for the Muskegon Lumberjacks. His 40 assists led his team and ranked fourth among all USHL players. A native of Turnov, Czech Republic, Pekar also represented his country twice last season, helping the Czechs finish second at both the 2017 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament and the 2018 IIHF World U18 Championship.
Buffalo’s second fourth-round pick, No. 117 overall, was spent on defenseman Linus Lindstrand Cronholm (6’1”, 172 lbs., 7/3/2000). Cronholm spent most of last season playing for Malmo’s U20 team in Sweden’s SuperElit League, where he posted six assists in 37 games. He also appeared in 18 games for Malmo’s U18 team and recorded 16 points (6+10) and a plus-8 rating.
The Sabres continued to add to their blue line with the first pick of the fifth round, taking Miska Kukkonen (6’0”, 198 lbs., 6/19/2000) with the 125th overall selection. Kukkonen, a native of Jokioinen, Finland, has recorded 12 points (3+9) and a plus-6 rating in 36 games for Ilves of Finland’s junior league during the last two seasons.
In the seventh round, Buffalo took defenseman William Worge Kreu (6’6”, 172 lbs., 5/15/2000) with the 187th overall selection. Kreu spent most of his 2017-18 campaign playing for Linkoping’s U20 team in Sweden’s SuperElit League, where he recorded 14 points (3+11) and a plus-6 rating in 38 games. He also scored two goals in nine games for Linkoping’s U18 squad and made his SHL debut, playing one game for Linkoping’s senior team.
In addition to Buffalo’s selections, the team also acquired a sixth-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Buffalo’s sixth-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft.