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Sabres' Rasmus Asplund eager to make impact in NHL

ETOBICOKE, Ontario — Rasmus Asplund wasn't happy about the decision.

Not at first.

The Swedish center wanted to play in the NHL last season, and there was a chance after the Sabres selected him with the 33rd overall pick in the 2016 draft. But Asplund ended up remaining in Europe, playing a fourth season with Färjestad BK in the Swedish Hockey League. In hindsight, he believes it was the right move.

"I really wanted to get over," Asplund said Sunday at the NHLPA Rookie Showcase at the Mastercard Centre, "but after discussions with Buffalo and with my old team, we made a decision that one more year would be great for me.

"I was a little mad that I didn't get over, but after the season, I'm happy that I stayed another year. I feel more ready than ever now to get over here and play."

Asplund, 20, said his production in 2016-17 factored into the decision.

"I didn't have a really good year in the SHL," Asplund said. "I had it this year. The year before was good but not great. So I think I just needed to get a good year in the SHL to really prepare me for the NHL. I think that's the main key for it."

In 2016-17, Asplund recorded six goals and 13 assists in 39 regular season games, plus three assists in five playoff games. Last season, he had eight goals and 20 assists in 50 regular season games, but no points in six playoff contests.

Sabres teammate Casey Mittelstadt, drafted eighth overall in 2017 and also attending the Rookie Showcase, said Asplund is "pretty serious" and "looks really good."

Mittelstadt and Asplund roomed together during the Sabres' development camp in June.

Asplund also recognizes the expectations that await him, given his second-round status and that the Sabres traded up with the Florida Panthers to select him.

He is eager to prove himself in the NHL and said he doesn't anticipate beginning the season with the AHL's Rochester Americans.

"I've been working for the NHL," Asplund said, "and that's the goal I'm going to go for, and we'll see how far it goes."

Asplund was in Buffalo for the Sabres development camp in late June and then returned home. He said he's been in the United States for about two weeks, and needed some time to recover from the long travel and change in time zones.

"It takes a couple days to adjust and get back to normal," he said, "but I'm feeling good now. I'm excited for camp to start."

He's been impressed by his new teammates' work ethic and the passion of Sabres fans.

"We're a great group of guys working out now in the KeyBank Center," Asplund said. "I'm just impressed how everyone wants the organization to move forward and everybody is just like making their piece of the puzzle to make it move forward. That's the impression I've got so far.

"And just the fans. The fans are incredible in Buffalo. In the camp there, we had like 3,000 people at the first practice. It's just amazing to see how the fans are there. It's going to be exciting to play for them."

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