Asplund picked up three assists in AHL Rochester's 5-2 win over Utica on Wednesday.
It was Asplund's best game of the season by a country mile. In fact, the diminutive Swede had just four points in 21 games this year prior to Wednesday's outburst. Asplund has a high motor and he's decent defensively, so he still has some value even if he isn't hitting the scoresheet, but Buffalo's second-round pick in 2016 (33rd overall) needs to pick up the pace offensively.
Asplund signed a three-year, entry-level deal with Buffalo on Wednesday.
While he may not be the Rasmus most Sabres fans are concerned about right now, securing their 2016 second-round pick to a three-year deal is certainly another positive step in Buffalo's rebuild process. Remember, Asplund was drafted 33rd overall in the draft, so it's possible that some teams had him pegged going late in the first round. He was very impressive this season with Farjestad BK in the Swedish League with 28 points in 50 games and as a 20-year-old was considered both a key player and an on-ice leader. As a four-year veteran of the SHL, it's conceivable Asplund makes the jump to the NHL right away. He's a two-way player with quick feet and some speed, something the Sabres definitely need more of, and perhaps his ability to play center will allow them to play Casey Mittelstadt on the wing so the burden doesn't feel so huge. Asplund does not have an European Assignment Clause so if he doesn't make the Sabres he'll go to AHL Rochester where he'll likely play a big role.
Asplund is expected to make the jump across the pond and join the Sabres next season, The Buffalo News reports.
Asplund has yet to be signed but contract negotiations should not pose a huge challenge. Drafted in 2016 with the 33rd overall pick, Asplund just wrapped up a 28-point season with Farjestad in the SHL. The 20-year-old is a two-way center but might need a little seasoning in the AHL before he makes the jump to the NHL. Buffalo's not expected to compete for a playoff spot, so there's little to be gained from having a rookie hang around a team that won't win many games -- just ask Rasmus Ristolainen or Zemgus Girgensons how tough their careers have been so far. Asplund will likely slot in as a third-line center behind Jack Eichel and Casey Mittelstadt down the road if Ryan O'Reilly is no longer around.
Asplund won the Craig Ramsay Award at the Sabres' development camp, which is awarded to the hardest-working player.
A second-round pick from 2016, Asplund set career highs with six goals and 19 points in 39 games with Farjestad BK of the Swedish League last season, his third with the big club. He's a two-way player lauded for his high hockey IQ, but at 19 years old, he still isn't strong or experienced enough to make the jump to North America. He'll spend the 2017-18 season in Sweden.
Asplund, the No. 33 selection in the 2016 NHL Draft, will stay in Sweden for another season, The Buffalo News reports.
This is probably for the best, as Asplund is still just 19 years old and a ways off from a meaningful role in Buffalo. With the Sabres' organization in rebuilding mode, the youngster's development is probably best served by staying home for one more season. The knock on Asplund's game is that he struggles against bigger players, so at some point -- once his body and game fill out more -- he'll need to prove himself against players with NHL size before he gets a legit chance to make his mark with the Sabres.
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