By Warren Kozireski–
The last Buffalo Sabres seventh round draft pick to play 100 or more NHL games was defenseman Nathan Paetsch, who was drafted in 2003. You need to go back another three drafts to find the last forward—Paul Gaustad—taken in the seventh round in 2000.
2014 Buffalo Sabres seventh round NHL draft selection Victor Olofsson hopes to break that streak and is off to a solid first ten weeks to his North American professional career. He started by being named AHL Player of the Month for October. Not Rookie of the Month, Player after leading the league with 15 points over the first ten games.
Note: he is not eligible for rookie status in the AHL due to his 101 games played for what is considered a professional league with Frolunda in Sweden. 99 games is the maximum.
He cooled off a bit in November scoring goals in the first and last games of the month and managing only two assists in between along with being out of the line-up due to injury for three games.
“Away from the puck he’s doing a lot better job,” Rochester head coach Chris Taylor said about his first year left wing. “I like how he is forechecking. He’s not being a perimeter player…I like all aspects of his game.
“It’s hard to score in this league. You have to keep shooting and be in the right place at the right time and it’s good that it’s not coming easy for him.”
And it’s not just offense. The coaching staff had the confidence to have Olofsson on the ice in the final minute of a recent game protecting a one-goal lead.
“It’s developmental and who can handle the pressure at that time,” Taylor said. “I think it’s important that everybody knows how to play in those last minute situations.”
The Ornsholdsvih, Sweden 23-year old native has started December much like he began the season with two goals and one assist over the first three games. And all this comes after he led the Swedish League in scoring last season with 27 tallies in just 50 games.
“Last year I just started taking more shots than I’ve been doing before and taking pucks to the net, driving the net a little bit harder and I’m trying to that this year too,” Olofsson said.
“I haven’t scored as many goals as I want to, but I think it’s coming. I feel like my overall game is pretty good so it’s nothing I worry about too much.”
And as for being trusted to protect that one goal lead fewer than 20 games into his North American hockey career, Olofsson isn’t fazed.
“I don’t know if it’s a surprise, but it’s definitely good to feel like you have that kind of support from the coaches and that they believe in you.”
In about half of the first 23 games of this season, Olofsson has been on a line with countrymate and 2016 draft pick Rasmus Asplund and the two seem to have developed some chemistry.
“We have and we talk a lot (so) we should develop even more,” Asplund said. “We watch video and try to get better every day and I think it’s working out pretty good for us right now.”
180 players were selected in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft ahead of the 5’11”, 181 lb. left wing. It marked the same year Buffalo selected Sam Reinhart in the first round second overall. No other Sabres draftee that year has had even a sip of coffee in the top league, but the way Olofsson has begun the North American portion of his professional career, he may be the next.