The Journey: Under the Radar Signings

Brad Phillips

2018-04-29

 

April is signing season for NHL teams as prospects wrap up their seasons and GM’s are eager to get some shiny new toys in the system. And while more high profile players like Casey Mittelstadt and Henrik Borgstrom get most of the pub, here are a few late round pick signings that deserve your attention.

 

 

Victor Olofsson – BUF

 

Drafted in the seventh round four years ago by the Buffalo Sabres, Olofsson has quietly been going about his business at home in Sweden putting together an impressive three years of play before exploding for a monster fourth year. In his draft+1 year, Olofsson posted 18 points and then proceeded to follow that up with campaigns of 29 and 27 points. But he absolutely blew the doors off in 2017-18 with a season that propelled him to the upper echelon of players in the league. In averaging just over 16 and a half minutes of ice time per game for Frolunda, Olofsson led the entire league in goal scoring by tickling the twine 27 times, including 14 with the man advantage and seven to win the game, both league bests, on 161 shots which was the third highest total in the league. To put his goal scoring exploits in a historical context, it’s the twelfth most goals in a season in league history by a U24 player. He finished second on Frolunda and eighth in league scoring with 43 points, tying for third in the SHL with 24 power play points. It’s no wonder the Sabres wanted to lock up his rights. He crosses the pond with a total of 60 goals and 117 points in 200 games and has traditionally excelled in the playoffs with a near points per game pace of 24 points in 27 playoff contests. The slightly undersized sniper has speed to burn and a wicked wrister making him a potentially valuable fantasy commodity. But look elsewhere if you need someone to contribute to bangers ‘n’ mash stats as Olofsson took only four minor penalties all year and accumulated just 13 hits and 18 blocked shots. It’s been a four year journey, but it looks like this late round selection by the Sabres is beginning to pay dividends.

 

 

Linus Ölund – PIT

 

Like Victor Olofsson, Ölund has been plying his trade in his motherland of Sweden during his formative hockey years. A fifth-round pick by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2017 draft, it was actually his third year of draft eligibility but was passed over in  the previous two. Ölund has been playing in the Brynäs system since he was just 14 years old, starting out in with the U16 squad and progressing to his current role for the past three seasons to that of an SHL regular. After getting a cup of coffee in 2014-15, Ölund suited up for a healthy portion of the schedule in 2015-16 but hardly played when he did, seeing less than five minutes per game over 23 games. So it’s not shocking to see that he only managed to record one assist. 2016-17 say him again relegated to a bottom line role, but that