Sabres Prospects Notebook – Midterm Report Card 2019-20 Part 1



Games Below From 12/9/2019 – 1/12/2020

NOTE:  For recaps below, we are highlighting any prospects who contributed on the score sheet over the past week or did anything notable.  For an overall view of Sabres Prospects and their stats, be sure to check The Charging Buffalo’s Prospect Stat Tracker which is updated daily here or clicking the image below.

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The Prospect Notebook has returned after approximately a months long hiatus so I have decided to do a comprehensive recap of the production of each prospect over that span of time as well as a midterm grade for each player at this point in the season.  Click the image above to get routed to The Charging Buffalo’s Prospect Stats Page to see each players cumulative totals statistically this year.  The grade factors in how the player has produced statistically, how their overall game has grown based on their age and league of play, and how their development has progressed since the start of the season relative to expectations.

Part 2 can be found here.  Sabres Prospects Notebook – Midterm Report Card 2019-20 Part 2


Prospect Updates:

C – Rasmus Asplund – Buffalo (NHL) – NHLe 14 Pts

Recent Stats:  14 GP – 0 G – 0 A – 0 PTS 
Midterm Grade:  B 
Asplund started the year in Rochester and was arguably close to making the NHL out of training camp.  After a solid start with the Amerks and some injuries to Buffalo’s lackluster forward group, Asplund got the call up and has not looked back.  While he made some contributions on the score sheet early on, his ice time has been fairly low and he has been held without a point in 14 straight games with his only meaningful contributions coming on the Penalty Kill.  Making the jump into the NHL this year is right about on schedule for him but he needs to start putting up points if he would like to stay up long term.  One thing that isn’t helping him is the lack of offensive zone starts where he ranks in the 11th percentile among players with at least 100 minutes of even strength ice time.

RD – Will Borgen – Rochester (AHL) – NHLe 5 Pts

Recent Stats:  14 GP – 0 G – 2 A – 2 PTS
Midterm Grade:  B
Not a defenseman who projects to produce many points, Borgen has settled into a shutdown type role and plays very physical.  He has played well for Rochester in his 2nd full AHL season and his development is right on track for a player who is likely to be a 6th or 7th defenseman in the NHL.  If he can somehow manage to improve his limited offensive upside, it will help expedite his path to the NHL but there is really no rush at this point in time and playing big minutes in the AHL is a great thing for the former 4th round pick. 

LD – Jacob Bryson – Rochester (AHL) – NHLe 11 Pts

Recent Stats:  14 GP – 0 G – 3 A – 3 PTS
Midterm Grade:  B+
In his first full season in the AHL, Bryson has performed admirably as an offensive defender who is smaller in stature (5’9″).  Picking up 11 points in the first 37 games of the season is very impressive and Bryson has showed off his great skating skills along with offensive instincts that could very well translate to a 2nd pair NHL defenseman.  He has great vision with the puck and has the ability to quarterback a powerplay, something that he mastered while at Providence.  I’m very optimistic about his future with the organization and his growth year over year has trended up.

LW – Filip Cederqvist – Vaxjo (SHL) – NHLe 4 Pts

Recent Stats:  4 GP – 0 G – 0 A – 0 PTS
Midterm Grade:  D-
Not that you’d expect big things from a 5th rounder just a year ago but after a solid year in the SHL, Cederqvist has regressed a bit in his production and has played some time in the SuperElit and Allsvenskan leagues which show he is more of a long term project with limited upside.  The grade may be harsh for a player with a lower projected ceiling but growth year over year is important at this age and seeing Cederqvist struggle to make an impact on the score sheet more often this year after such a promising 2018-19 campaign is concerning.

C – Dylan Cozens – Lethbridge (WHL) – NHLe 29 Pts

Recent Stats:  0 GP – 0 G – 0 A – 0 PTS (WHL) / 7 GP – 2 G – 7 A – 9 PTS (WJC)
Midterm Grade:  A
Cozens could probably have an entire article dedicated to his season thus far and his future potential with how he has performed in the WHL and at the International level this season.  He has thus far lived up to being selected 7th overall at the 2019 NHL Draft and has given Sabres fans hope that a future top 6 forward is on it’s way.  Taking a leave from Lethbridge to play for Team Canada at the World Junior Tournament, Cozens showcased his stellar all around game that at this point in time is showing very few if any weaknesses.  Granted the WJC is no indicator of future success but the things Cozens did well in the tournament from a fundamentals standpoint is what will translate to success at the NHL level.  He is a very smart player who positions himself well at both ends of the ice and makes great plays both with and without the puck.  As evidenced by a huge goal to keep Canada alive in the gold medal game, Cozens can score from just about anywhere on the ice but also be a play maker when needed as evidenced by his 7 assists in 7GP at the WJC and 26 assists in 30 GP in the WHL.  What has impressed me most this season is his skating as he has great speed which sees little to no drop off when he is carrying the puck, an asset that separates good from great players at the NHL level.  He is going to fun to follow along with the remainder of this year as it’s very likely he gets a few games in Buffalo once the WHL season ends.

LD – Linus Cronholm – Malmo (SHL) – NHLe 5 Pts

Recent Stats:  4 GP – 0 G – 0 A – 0 PTS
Midterm Grade:  C
Cronholm ended last season strong and got a call up to the SHL where he seemed like a lock to play more of a regular this season with Malmo but stumbled out of the gate and got demoted to the Allsvenskan league.  Showing a limited ceiling offensively, Cronholm is definitely more of a defensive guy but skates well and though he hasn’t played much in the SHL, doing so at the ages of 18 and 19 is a good sign for his future.  He will need to hone his offensive skills though if he hopes to have any shot at making the NHL some day.

C – Marcus Davidsson – Vaxjo (SHL) – NHLe 21 Pts

Recent Stats:  8 GP – 0 G – 2 A – 2 PTS
Midterm Grade:  C+
Davidsson got off to a really slow start this year but has picked things up as of late to maintain the promising potential he showed last year.  Playing on a bad Vaxjo team in the SHL has not helped his cause so the hope is the rest of his year goes the same as the past few weeks.  Basically a carbon copy of Asplund but with a bit more offensive upside in my opinion, Davidsson still has a ways to go in his development and is still projecting to be a bottom 6 NHL player.  For an organization starving for forward talent, Davidsson should have every opportunity to make the team in a year or 2 but the hope is he can pick things up even more offensively and be a late bloomer like Olofsson though he definitely does not possess nearly as good of a shot.  

RD – Casey Fitzgerald – Rochester (AHL) – NHLe 14 Pts

Recent Stats:  3 GP – 0 G – 0 A – 0 PTS
Midterm Grade:  B
Fitzgerald joins the ever growing and deep group of right handed D in the organization.  He really trended down and showed little growth in his final years at BC but has showed very well in his first full season in Rochester.  I feel like he is a bit of a sleeper and possess enough offensive upside to seriously consider him as a future Buffalo Sabre.  The dreamer in me envisions a 3rd pair of Fitzgerald and Bryson but with how deep this group is, Fitzgerald may ultimately end up as trade bait.  It should be noted though that Fitzgerald currently boasts the highest NHLe score of all the defensive prospects not named Dahlin, Jokiharju, and Pilut.

LW – Vasily Glotov – St. Petersburg (KHL) – NHLe 16 Pts

Recent Stats:  3 GP – 1 G – 0 A – 1 PTS
Midterm Grade:  B-
More of an enigma of a prospect, Glotov is more known for being humorous on Twitter than much of anything else.  He however remains an intriguing 7th round dart throw prospect who recently graduated from the VHL ranks to the KHL.  Projecting Russian prospects is about as easy as getting through the 90/290 split during rush hour but what we do know is that Glotov is a good skater and can score goals.  Whether or not that offensive ability gets a chance over in North America long term is up in the air and at this point in time unlikely as Glotov remains an unsigned prospect whose rights the Sabres will lose this June should they not offer him a contract.

LW – Aaron Huglen – Fargo (USHL) – NHLe 0 Pts

Recent Stats:  0 GP – 0 G – 0 A – 0 PTS
Midterm Grade:  N/A (Injured)
The lone prospect in the system to yet play a game this season, Huglen has been sidelined by an injury since the summer and virtually nothing is known about the severity of it or how long it will keep him out.  He’s committed to join fellow prospect Ryan Johnson at Minnesota next season though and any updates to his status will be documented in future issues of The Notebook.

G – Jonas Johansson – Rochester (AHL)

Recent Stats:  6 GP – 4-1-1 Record – 2.64 GAA – 0.923 Save %
Midterm Grade:  A-
It is common knowledge that goalies are tough to project and developing them can take a very long time, several years in most cases, so patience is key with prospects at this position.  The 24 year old former 3rd round pick (2014) has been a big reason for Rochester’s success this year and has earned the right to be part of the future of the Buffalo Sabres.  Though I am skeptical he has the upside to be an NHL starter, he could very well be an NHL backup and at worst, someone who leads your AHL squad and is 3rd in line on the depth chart.  

LD – Ryan Johnson – Minnesota (NCAA) – NHLe 4 Pts

Recent Stats:  4 GP – 0 G – 1 A – 1 PTS
Midterm Grade:  C
Touted by many as a very safe pick with the last pick of the 2019 1st round, Johnson has transitioned so-so to the NCAA level.  Known for his skating and passing abilities, Johnson has not be able to be a big contributor on the score sheet as he is at about the same production pace as Mattias Samuelsson was in his D+1 season, which is not a name you want to be in the same breath as when it comes to an offensive production comparison.  Transitioning to the NCAA as a true freshmen is a difficult task though, especially for player his size so while his production thus far is not great, it’s appropriate to remain optimistic about his development.  

RD – Miska Kukkonen – Lukko (Liiga U20) – NHLe 5 Pts

Recent Stats:  3 GP – 0 G – 1 A – 1 PTS
Midterm Grade:  D
Kukkonen is just another of the many defensemen in the system and one who appears to be at best a 6 or 7 D in the NHL.  Botterill has done a good job of accumulating several of these players who offer some NHL potential, albeit with very low ceilings.  Kukkonen started the season out in Liiga but like Cronholm, was demoted to their equivalent U20 league in Finalnd.  The right handed defender doesn’t offer much in the offensive category but still has a well rounded game.  At this point in time, I do not see him as making it to the NHL though he still has a lot of time to grow and develop.

RD – Oskari Laaksonen – Ilves (Liiga) – NHLe 11 Pts

Recent Stats:  11 GP – 0 G – 3 A – 3 PTS
Midterm Grade:  C+
Probably the biggest off the board pick in the 2018 draft, Laaksonen was looking like quite the steal at the end of last season and early portion of this one but appears to still be hampered by an injury he sustained at the beginning of the year and one that has him out of Ilves lineup once again.  A good skater who has been able to produce at the highest level in the Finnish pro league, Laaksonen is still unsigned by Buffalo though that figures to change this offseason.  While not critical, getting him over to Rochester in the next year or 2 would help ensure that his development does not get stalled as it has this year since his style of play is in line with this new age of NHL defensemen.

Keep your eyes peeled at for Part 2 of the Midterm Notebook set to be released this Friday 1/17.

Continue to check in every week for a weekly prospect update from The Charging Buffalo Crew.

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