Sabres third round pick Portillo is enjoying his second trip to Buffalo in a month

The big goalie will play in North America this year

Paul Hamilton
June 28, 2019 - 3:41 pm
Erik Portillo

Photo: Micheline Michaelina (@MiMiV4682)

Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - Erik Portillo wasn’t in Vancouver when the Sabres drafted him in the third round, but he is in Buffalo this week for development camp. Portillo is a big goalie and has looked pretty good in camp. He talked about how he found out he was drafted, “I was getting a call from the general manager of the Buffalo Sabres. I was home with my family and not doing much really.”

Jason Botterill acknowledge on the morning of the draft that he was interested in drafting a goalie. Portillo knew Buffalo had some interest, “I was here at the Combine, so I knew they had an interest, so I was really happy when they picked me and honored and thankful.”

Portillo had an impressive season last year with Frölunda's Under-20 team, going 21-5-0 with a 1.99 goals-against and .931 save percentage. Portillo said some factors came together for him, “I had a new goalie coach in Peter Andersson and he’s an amazing guy. He came into the team and got me and the defense to work good together and I would give him a lot of credit for that.

“He’s my mentor right now and he’s a big difference from before.”

Andersson didn’t do anything specific to improve Portillo’s game. He said, “I think more he worked with improving stuff that I was working on already and he really helped me get everything together.”

Portillo said he has a specific style he uses on the ice, he said, “I would say I’m a big goaltender, but I wouldn't say I play the typical big goaltender kind of play. I’m more of a hybrid goaltender and I like to play the puck with my stick.”

In the fall, Portillo will play for Dubuque of the USHL getting ready for the next season at Michigan. It’s very common for players to spend time in the USHL before attending college. Portillo said, “I’m going there because I’m going to the University of Michigan and I felt like Dubuque was a great organization with great people and I want to be prepared for going to Michigan, so I would say it was the best step possible to get the language right. Since I’m going to start more English, it’s a bit different, so I’m taking some pre-courses there and I think learning the American style of play, it’s very important.”

Portillo has played on teams with Rasmus Dahlin. He said they’ve talked about being in the Sabres organization, “Yes we were on the ice for about two weeks in Sweden before coming here so yes, we have talked a lot.”

Dahlin told him Buffalo is a great place with amazing fans.

The Sabres will wrap up camp on Saturday at 10:45 with the 3-on-3 tournament.

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