A little bit of learning, a little bit of impression-making for Asplund and Nylander - The Buffalo News
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A little bit of learning, a little bit of impression-making for Asplund and Nylander

Nobody was making their first NHL roster off their performance at Buffalo Sabres development camp.

That was a particularly obvious reality for Rasmus Asplund. At the beginning of the four-day camp, Asplund said he and new Sabres general manager Jason Botterill talked about the plan, which would be not to sign the 19-year-old forward to an NHL deal but rather have him spend another season in his native Sweden playing pro hockey in the SHL.

That plan was fine by Asplund, who could use the year to gain more experience and take a leadership role on his Färjestad BK team. It also opens up the possibility of Asplund playing for Sweden in the 2018 Olympics, an opportunity he would not have had with NHL players not participating in this Olympiad.

And it gave Asplund a reason to relax and enjoy the summer hockey at HarborCenter. Development camp was only partly about making an impression. The rest was about learning tips and tricks and inside information on how to be a pro hockey player along with the expectations of new leadership in the organization.

"It's a little bit of both," Asplund said. "You try to go here and do your best so they remember the small things you have done during the week. You can never do more than your best. That's the big thing you're trying to do when you come into a development camp like this.

"One of the things Jason told us, is that development camp is to get a face on everyone and get to know everybody," Asplund said. "It's a lot of new staff members here and I think I got a little closer to everyone."

Meanwhile, on the ice, Asplund showed some impressive offensive moves during Tuesday's three-on-three tournament. He was part of the winning Team White and had one of the highlight goals of the day, beating out goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen in a race for the puck, then tucking it into the net as time expired.

Moves like that could help Asplund in his goal for the 2017-18 season -- to get to 30 points. He had 19 points with six goals in 39 games in the SHL last season.

As Apslund prepares for his season in Sweden, fellow countryman Alexander Nylander is pushing to make the Sabres roster.

Nylander  spent most of last season with the Rochester Americans, was tied for the scoring lead at the 2017 World Juniors while playing for Sweden, and made his NHL debut with the Sabres playing four games at the end of last season.

On Tuesday he opened the scoring at the three-on-three tournament around 20 seconds into play.

His team ran out of gas, finishing fourth in the tourney, but the 19-year-old, who was the Sabres No. 1 draft pick in 2016, is focused on preparing for a run at the big leagues.

"We've had a lot of good development coaches here and I think everyone has learned new things to get better and also to be more like a professional," Nylander said. "I will definitely take that into September.

"I was working hard. Of course things I think I've done in the summer has helped me on the ice and I've just got to keep doing what I've been doing."

This summer he has been working out with his brother, William, who is coming off a breakout rookie season for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"I've been working on getting stronger, faster, stuff like that," Nylander said.

Has the stuff Nylander, and Asplund, been working on left any impression on new Sabres coach Phil Housley or Botterill?

Well, let's say under new management, the Sabres are keeping impressions and observations close to the vest.

"Look, it's summer hockey," Botterill said. "Some guys have been on the ice. Some guys haven't. What we really like though is just the enthusiasm, the work ethic, of guys through the drills and the interaction with our staff off-ice. That's where you're going to get the most out of development camp. These three-on-three things are fun, but it's also dangerous to take any opinions away."

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