By Joe Yerdon / NHL.com Correspondent–
BUFFALO — When the Buffalo Sabres selected center Marcus Davidsson in the second round (No. 37) of the 2017 NHL Draft, they chose a player who not only impressed their scouts, but a potential future teammate as well.
Davidsson, 18, played for Djurgardens of the Swedish Hockey League last season. At 6-feet, 191 pounds he showed the ability to adapt against older players in Sweden’s top league at both ends of the ice.
Last season, Davidsson had nine points (five goals, four assists) in 45 games and faced off against center/forward Rasmus Asplund, a fellow Sabres prospect who plays for Farjestad. The impression left on Asplund, a second-round pick by Buffalo (No. 33) in the 2016 draft, was strong.
“I think he’s pretty similar to me; he’s a hard-working, two-way center, can play in every situation and he’s just working hard out there,” Asplund said. “That’s the type of guy you want on the team, that’s always putting in 100 percent in his game. I think that’s going to be pretty important where he plays.”
Davidsson will return to Djurgardens this season, and if his path to the NHL is similar to Asplund’s, he’ll remain there for two seasons before heading to North America; their similar styles and the fact they play the same position helped make Asplund an instant mentor for Davidsson at Sabres development camp last month.
“My main goal for this camp with him was to bring him in and put him under my wings and make him feel at home, and just getting in the group and all that stuff,” Asplund said. “So I haven’t talked much about the game with him; just trying to get him in the group and get him to feel good.”
During development camp, Davidsson showed his strengths as a skater and his ability to be strong on the forecheck. He recognized if he were going to be playing against men in Sweden, he had to adjust, or else struggle.
“We had a pretty tough season so I had to grow up a bit in my game and not take as many risks,” Davidsson said. “I had to adapt my game to the situation where my team was.”
He also learned older players do whatever they can to gain an advantage. That lesson will work well for him when it’s time to make a move for an NHL roster spot.
“[Veterans] have their tricks, and so I wasn’t used to them before,” Davidsson said. “I learned a lot, especially in the physical game.”
Davidsson enjoyed his first season in the SHL and had some help getting acclimated to the league after he spent the previous three in the Swedish junior league. His older brother, Jonathan, was a sixth-round pick (No. 170) by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2017 and his linemate with Djurgardens.
“It was a very good year, I learned a lot from the senior guys,” Marcus Davidsson said. “I got to play with my brother and some of my other friends from the Euro teams. We had a really good year and I think next year [there] will be even more developing for me, so I look forward to it.”
Playing with his brother taught the younger Davidsson a lot on and off the ice.
“It means a lot to me,” he said. “We’ve played together for a couple of years and I always had him as a role model for me. So it has been very nice and he’s always helped me in my development and we always compete, so it’s been very good.”
(Reprinted with permission of NHL.com) (NHL.com photo)