Monday, September 9 (HarborCenter, Buffalo, NY)
-Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Buffalo Sabres, 12:30 p.m.
How to watch: Televised on nhl.com/sabres
The Buffalo players are, courtesy of our friends at Die by the Blade:
Forwards: Pascal Aquin (who signed an AHL deal with the Rochester Americans earlier this week); Rasmus Asplund; Shaw Boomhower (free agent invite); Stephen Harper (free agent invite); Bobby MacIntyre (free agent invite); Brett Murray; Andrew Oglevie; Victor Olofsson; Kyle Olson (free agent invite); Matej Pekar; Lukas Rousek; Arttu Ruotsalainen; Sebastian Vidmar (free agent invite); John Wiitala (free agent invite)
Defense: Justin Baudry (free agent invite); Tobie Bisson (spent last season with Cincinatti in the ECHL); William Borgen; Jacob Bryson; Casey Fitzgerald; Kurt Gosselin; Brandon Hickey; Henri Jokiharju; Devante Stephens
Goaltenders: Jonas Johansson, Matthew Welsh (free agent invite)
(They missed listing 2019 top pick Dylan Cozens who was coming off an injury and apparently a late addition to the prospects camp roster. Cozens scored a goal vs NJ, so he’s definitely playing).
Buffalo’s 2018 fourth round pick Matej Pekar has been making waves this weekend, scoring two goals and getting into a fight last game against the Bruins’ prospects. A couple of higher-end prospects in Rasmus Asplund and Victor Olofsson also scored goals in that game.
Olofsson is a certainly a name to remember, the now 24 year old scored 63 points in 66 games in the AHL last season, his first in North America with a brief NHL cameo appearance at the end of the year that went pretty well too (four points in six game).
For a talent-starved Buffalo team he could be given the chance in a skilled role to see if he can produce in the NHL because he’s certainly put up big numbers in the SHL and AHL in the last two seasons.
DtbB is encouraged to see how it goes for Olofsson:
Olofsson is making a hard push to find a roster spot in the NHL this season, and although this weekend was just a seemingly-pointless prospects tournament that in the end won’t amount to much, it was a good reminder of just how good he is already. Still, regardless of what level he’s at, he can still find value in the tournament.
“I feel like I get a little head start, just to get into the pace of the game and find the timing and everything,” Olofsson said. “It’s a little bit off after a long summer, so it definitely feels nice to get a couple games in.”
Chris Taylor, who served as head coach for the Prospects Challenge, thought Olofsson played very well over the two games.
“I thought he controlled the puck well, did a lot of nifty little plays,” Taylor said. “Obviously, his goal (on Friday) was remarkable. He can shoot the puck, but I liked his other game as well. Penalty-killing, he did a very good job, and I liked his wall play. I just like how he handled the puck down low in the offensive zone.”
Olofsson has all of six games of NHL experience, but don’t forget, he also has four seasons in the Swedish Hockey League under his belt. He may have been a seventh-round draft pick back in 2014, but he’s shaping up to look like quite the steal so far in his young North American career.
Smooth-skaing Henri Jokiharju also has some NHL experience from last season and could be in the mix to be a full-timer as early as this fall.
For the Pens, it’s more on opportunity for the young guys to make a good first impression before training camp opens later in the week, and get a bit more experience against a solid team of their peers. As we pointed out yesterday from John Marino to Anthony Angello and beyond there have been a few solid performances so far for Pittsburgh, who has been a lot more competitive and a better prospects team this year compared to recent years.
Interesting new lines for the Pens who move Pierre-Olivier Joseph up a pair to play with fellow elite prospect, Calen Addison.