Defense remained a focal point for the Buffalo Sabres in the second round of the 2018 NHL Draft, selecting Mattias Samuelsson 32nd overall.
The last time the Buffalo Sabres selected a defenseman with their first two picks in the NHL Draft was 2013, when the team selected Rasmus Ristolainen (8th overall) and Nikita Zadarov (16th overall). Five years later, the Sabres do it again in hopes of toughening up their defensive pressure.
After selecting top-prospect Rasmus Dahlin with the No. 1 overall pick this year, the Sabres went defense again in the second round selecting Mattias Samuelsson with the first pick of Day Two. Samuelsson, much like Dahlin, is a talented two-way defenseman, meaning he will provide production on both defense and offense.
For a team like the Buffalo Sabres, who struggled mightily on the defensive end last season, drafting two top defenseman in this year’s NHL draft will certainly help them both in the short term and long term. And to add offensive production to those two players will only act as icing on the cake.
Samuelsson comes from the United States National Team Development Program, where his 31 points (11 goals, 20 assists) in 58 games were second-best on the team. He has good size at 6’4”, 216 pounds and knows how to use that to his advantage, not shying away from physicality anywhere on the ice. His physical nature comes in handy when boxing players out from the net and pinning players up against the boards.
To make matters even more exciting, Samuelsson and Dahlin are already acquainted after doing their drills together at the NHL Combine in Buffalo. Now, the two will be joining the same organization with bright futures.
You can expect to see a lot of physical plays featuring Mattias Samuelsson, but don’t let that take away from his abilities with the puck in his possession. He’s excellent with the puck in the neutral zone and can help turn defense into offense after a turnover. Once in the offensive end, Samuelsson can either find a teammate in the slot or get a chance at goal with his wicked wrist shot.
“I’m literally shaking,” said the defenseman. “I am so happy. Buffalo is a world class organization. Just to be a part of that, spending time the last couple of days with my family here over the last few days it’s been an unbelievable experience.”
Unfortunately, I wouldn’t expect to see Samuelsson right away, as he is slated to join the NCAA with Western Michigan University. It will be a great opportunity to watch our new defender develop in front of our eyes and watch as he continues to get better. There’s no doubt he will be a great addition to what Ristolainen brings, and what Dahlin is bringing.
The Buffalo Sabres’ blueline continues to emerge as a bright spot for the team’s future.
What are your expectations for Buffalo Sabres’ new defenseman Mattias Samuelsson? Leave your comments below!