When Joel Armia decided he was coming to North America to begin the 2013 season, many people believed that there was a strong chance that he would crack the Buffalo Sabres opening day lineup. After a strong start to the preseason, it looked like Armia had locked down a roster spot, until the Finnish sniper broke his hand. This was a devastating injury to Armia who would miss the first couple months of the season. When he was deemed healthy, Armia would be sent down to the Rochester Americans in the AHL, where he is 20 games into his season.
Drafted 16th overall in the 2011 NHL entry draft, Armia spent the last three seasons playing for Assat Pori in the SM-liiga. In the 2012-2013 season, Armia had a career high 19 goals and was a big part in winning the championship for Assat Pori. At such a young age, Armia had three impressive seasons in the SM-liiga. Currently, Armia has played in 20 games with the Rochester Americans recording nine points. If Armia can continue to develop his game, the 20 year old can be a power forward who can provide lots of offense, something that the Sabres are in desperate need of.
There are a lot of things to like about Armia’s game. At 6’3” and 187 lbs, Armia has the ideal mix of size and speed that will make him a dynamic player in the NHL. Not to mention his wicked shot, Armia will be a force on the powerplay when his time is called in the NHL. After an impressive outing at the Spengler Cup, it was evident that Armia has the ability to win battles in the corners, dig out pucks and use his size as an advantage to win battles.
The big question is- will Joel Armia be called up to the NHL at any point this season? If Ron Rolston was still here, I would say that Armia would be called up in a heartbeat; however, this is not the case as Ted Nolan is now behind the bench. From what we’ve seen so far, Nolan prefers to have gritty veterans playing over young players. I would imagine that if Armia were to be called up to the NHL, it would be towards the end of the season, say the last 5-10 games. Even if it’s for a short period of time, it would be a nice treat for Sabres fans to see Armia play even a few games at the NHL level.
The sky is the limit for Sabres prospect Joel Armia. With a perfect combination of size and speed, not to mention an elusive scoring touch, the Sabres hit a home run with drafting Armia. It is only a matter of time until Armia will crack the NHL. Whether it is this year or next, Armia will have an immediate impact in the NHL and definitely give a much needed boost to the Sabres offense.