Victor Olofsson had a good season despite getting no points in the playoffs

Chris Taylor said the winger really excelled after December

Paul Hamilton
April 28, 2019 - 12:52 pm

Photo: Dennis Schneidler - USA TODAY Sports

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Rochester, NY (WGR 550) - Despite not picking up a point in his three AHL playoff games, I think Victor Olofsson will be one of the young guys to earn a spot on next year's Sabres team.

In 66 games with Rochester, the hard-shooting winger netted 30 goals and 33 assists for 66 points. The Amerks' leading scorer also had two goals and two assists for four points in his six NHL games with the Sabres.

The Amerks spent Friday and Saturday having final meetings and cleaning out their lockers. Olofsson was really down about what happened in the Toronto playoff series, “It’s disappointing for sure. I felt like we didn’t really get up to our standard.”

Many fans and a few media members keep ripping Jason Botterill for not having Olofsson and half the Amerks team up in Buffalo in December. Olofsson was scoring goals, but if you watched his game, anybody could see he wasn’t ready yet for the NHL.

This was his first season in North America and there were many things Chris Taylor needed to teach him to make him into the player he is now. Taylor said, “His 200-foot game really helped and he learned that and how to use his body because he’s a strong kid. He’s really strong on his skates and he creates a lot of separation for himself. He learned to play defense. He was on the penalty kill at the end of the year and I just thought his development was really, really good.

“He started off OK, but by Christmas, he was getting better and better and then after that, he became a different person and different player.”

Olofsson understood that he needed to improve. He said, “This is my first year over here. It was a great learning experience, the game is played a little bit different than the way I’ve been playing all my life, so it took awhile for me to come into the style of hockey that’s played here.

“It’s a little more physical, a little bit quicker, so I think I’ve been growing and learning a lot throughout the year and when a finally got the call up, I think I was ready.”

Tim Murray gets killed around these parts, but not everything he did was bad. It was Murray who drafted Olofsson in the seventh round of the 2014 NHL Draft. The kid has made it all the way to the NHL, but he wants more, “My biggest goal was to play in the NHL and I’m very happy I got to play a few games, but I’m not satisfied. That’s where I want to be full-time, so I’ve got to work for that, but I feel like my game down here has been really good, I just wanted to work hard every day and become even better to eventually earn that call up and that was my main focus.”

Only two other players from the seventh round of that draft have played in the NHL. Ondrej Kase has played 149 games with Anaheim, while Mr. Irrelevant, Jacob Middleton has gotten in three games with San Jose.

Three sixth rounders have also played, Kevin Labanc has 214 games with the Sharks, Sammy Blais has 43 games with St. Louis and Dylan Sikura has 38 games with Chicago.

So what does Taylor do to get through to these young players?  It’s his job to win, but it’s also his job to teach the kids and get them ready to be Buffalo Sabres. He said, “Every day development is off the ice and on the ice. How they’re feeling, what they’re feeling because they express a lot. It’s not just come in and put your equipment on any more.”

Taylor talks to them about their games, but also the way they handle themselves when nobody is watching, “There’s a lot of things that go into it like nutrition, how they have to work out off the ice and I felt a lot of the guys did it the right way and you could see that in a lot of their games and a lot of our guys really improved on their development side.

“Is it right there where we want it yet? No, because we would’ve won, but it’s getting there.”

There was no talking to Taylor about the future. He said, “I’m not thinking of any team next year or whatever. I’m still processing what just happened and that’s the tough part.”

I asked Taylor if he has given any thought to if he’d like to interview for the Sabres head coaching job and he said, “No, I haven’t thought about that at all.”

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