Defenseman Philip Nyberg looked sharp and consistent during day one of Buffalo Sabres development camp. But the path to get to this point hasn’t been smooth for Buffalo's fifth-round pick in the 2016 draft.
He left Sweden originally planning to go to the University of Wisconsin in the Big Ten. However, he didn’t end up playing for the Badgers at all and instead played 25 games for the Madison Capitols of the USHL in the fall of 2016.
"It wasn't the right school," Nyberg said. "It's just school, I struggled with it. I didn't have enough time."
Nyberg soon found the right fit, joining the University of Connecticut’s team halfway through the 2016-17 season, a school not exactly known for its hockey dominance. He played in 16 games that season for the Huskies, tabbing six points.
"I love UConn," Nyberg said. "It was a great choice. I really enjoy being there, the coaches and everyone around supporting me. … I'm really happy."
But then the injuries starting piling on. First came the shoulder, which required surgery last summer. He had to sit on the sidelines during last year's development camp and it set him back on his preparations for his sophomore season.
"Shoulder surgery eliminated me a little bit during the summer," he said. "I didn't have great workouts but I did my best for the situation."
The shoulder recovered just in a time for another injury to occur, a high ankle sprain in the first game of the 2017-18 season. He was sidelined once again and missed 16 games last season.
"It was a little bit up and down," Nyberg said. "A lot of injuries. It's going to happen sometimes where you just have to go through it. I think I stepped up my game in a lot of different ways anyway. Overall it wasn't one of my best years but I can for sure look back at it and learn from it."
He said overall he’s doing better now, and he’s been working on stepping up his game and workouts all summer. He’ll have to continue to do so to make the jump from a middle-of-the-pack Hockey East team to the NHL.
"It's fast hockey, it's really fast hockey here," Nyberg said. "I think still the level of our practices and our games are still really hard. It's just fun to come here and show off in front of the fans."
Swedish players keep an eye on World Cup
There are 10 players on the Sabres development camp roster from Sweden.
And for most of them, part of their attention span will be wandering toward Russia the next few weeks. That's where the FIFA World Cup is being contested and Sweden advanced to the Round of 16.
The Swedes capped off group play with a 3-0 win over Mexico Wednesday morning.
"I heard Sweden won 3-0 so I’m pretty excited about that," said a smiling Victor Olofsson.
Meanwhile, Sabres top draft pick, Rasmus Dahlin, was watching.
"Yeah, it was the best feeling," Dahlin said. "We won the group and now it's playoffs."
Sweden will play Switzerland in the first match of the knockout round on Tuesday.
But Sweden's success wasn't the only World Cup news bringing smiles to some of the Sabres players.
Nyberg was more excited about South Korea's win over Germany, knocking the defending champions out of the World Cup.
"We looked at the scores today. It was fun. It was great," Nyberg said. "I don’t like Germany so I was happy.”
Development camp continues Thursday at HarborCenter with session one from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. and session two from 11 to 12 p.m. They are free and open to the public.