Sabres' Botterill enjoyed the Prospects Challenge as the Sabres win

The general manager liked the improvement of Alex Nylander

Paul Hamilton
September 10, 2018 - 9:40 pm

Photo: Buffalo Sabres - Bill Wippert


Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - In addition to seeing Rasmus Dahlin in the Sabres Prospects Challenge, I wanted to see the progress of Alex Nylander. Chris Taylor raved about the third-year winger and I don’t think he disappointed.

Taylor played him in every situation over the three games and he showed a willingness to battle and a willingness to be engaged. On the penalty kill, he did a terrific job of getting into the passing lanes and breaking up plays.

The Sabres won the tournament thanks to Monday’s 10-2 pasting of Pittsburgh. Nylander had two goals and two assists in Buffalo’s seven-goal third period. That gave him three goals and two assists for five points in the three games. General manager Jason Botterill said, “We’ve seen a different Alex Nylander throughout the summer and I think it’s a step in the right direction being healthy and we’ve seen him put the time in in the weight room, he looks stronger, more confident out there.

“The thing that we always have to remember about Alex is he’s 20-years-old. This technically should probably be his first time in pro hockey, but he’s already had that experience, so I’m excited at how he performed this weekend.”

This was the first time Botterill got to see Dahlin in a Sabres sweater as he played two of the three games. He said, “He’s an impressive young man, we had a lot of European players here and for them to get that experience on the smaller ice surface, was very helpful. Some of the feedback we’ve given to him, he’s very coachable and it’s one of the reasons our coaching staff is excited to work with him.”

Getting a look at the young defensemen, we saw players that aren’t afraid to use their speed. We also saw guys that can actually execute a simple pass from stick-to-stick. Botterill said, “Overall with Rasmus and a lot of our other defensemen, you saw it with Laaksonen, Pilut, the confidence they showed with puck.

“I thought our entire team did a better job of puck possession.”

Botterill said they don’t see a lot of Laaksonen because he plays in Europe so it was by design that he got a lot of ice-time in the three games.

Botterill left last season with a bad taste in his mouth. There were many things he deemed unacceptable and he’s worked this summer to fix some of it. He got a big smile on his face when the sellout crowds of Friday and Saturday were brought up. He said, “It was awesome, this is an amazing building whether it’s development camp or for these rookie tournaments, I mean there’s not a ton of people actually in the building, but the atmosphere was great and because the area is so tight and how bright it is in the building, it’s just a good atmosphere and it was good to see our fans enjoying the skill level and just the effort from the players out there.”

Watching this group of prospects, it’s obvious many of them are going to play in the NHL. Botterill said that’s good for everybody, “We just had to bring in more internal competition, we have to give Phil more options at different positions and I know there are sometimes questions, is he a center or is he a winger? We just want options and we think we’ve done that this summer, especially at forward bringing in some guys, but also having young guys that are going to be pushing for positions.”

Restricted free agent Sam Reinhart still doesn’t have a contract with the Sabres, but he is back in Buffalo. Botterill said talks continue, “I’m excited that Sam is in town working out with our guys, we continue our dialog with his agent and still very hopefully to get a deal done. Botterill added, “We just have to come to a fair deal, we’re excited to see Sam and it’s evident that he’s worked very hard this summer and for him to be here to start ot interact with some of our new players, I think that’s a great sign.”

The Sabres won the tournament on goal differential since all the 2-1 teams beat each other. Here are the final stats:

Buffalo              2       1         17     9

New Jersey        2       1        16   10

Boston               2       1         9     9

Pittsburgh          0       3         6    20


Sabres scoring: Goals-assists-points

  1. Asplund - 1-5-6
  2. Nylander - 3-2-5
  3. Dahlin - 2-1-3
  4. Coskey - 2-1-3
  5. Powell - 1-2-3
  6. Mittelstadt - 0-3-3
  7. Pekar - 0-3-3
  8. Welsh - 2-0-2
  9. Glotov - 1-1-2
  10. Hancock - 1-1-2
  11. Cornel - 0-2-2
  12. Atwal - 1-1-2
  13. Aquin - 0-2-2
  14. Olofsson - 1-0-1
  15. Thompson - 1-0-1
  16. Oglevie - 1-0-1
  17. Laaksonen - 0-1-1
  18. Stephens - 0-1-1
  19. Peterson - 0-1-1
  20. Eiserman - 0-1-1

Sabres goalies: Record-goals against-save percentage

  1. Johansson - 2-0-0, 2.61, .915
  2. Luukkonen - 0-1-0, 2.73, .892


The Sabres report to training camp on Thursday for physicals and testing.

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