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Look into the future: How Sabres prospects fared

Since arriving in Buffalo almost two years ago, Sabres General Manager Jason Botterill has spoken of the need to build from within.

The road to the Stanley Cup playoffs would not only be paved by free-agent signings or trades, though he added 21-year-old Finnish forward Arttu Roustalainen on Wednesday.

Instead, Botterill wanted to use draft picks to supplement a roster that already included Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart. Though the Sabres have since added Casey Mittelstadt and Rasmus Dahlin, the bulk of Botterill's picks from the past two drafts have yet to play for the organization.

That group includes a possible franchise goalie, several talented defensemen and high-upside forwards. Here is a look at how each performed during the 2018-19 season:

Mattias Samuelsson, defenseman, Western Michigan University (second round, 2018): Samuelsson, the second of five defensemen selected by the Sabres at last June's draft, had five goals with seven assists and a plus-3 rating in 35 games as a freshman at Western Michigan. He also posted a plus-3 rating during the United States' run to a silver medal at the World Junior Championship.

Samuelsson will return to Western Michigan for his sophomore season.

Matej Pekar, winger, Barrie Colts (fourth round, 2018): A broken collarbone cut short Pekar's first Ontario Hockey League season, though he posted 14 goals with 22 assists in 36 games. The 19-year-old also played five games for the Czech Republic at the World Junior Championship, posting no points with a minus-1 rating.

Pekar signed an entry-level contract with the Sabres in October and joined the Rochester Americans in March, though he never appeared in a game before their first-round exit from the Calder Cup playoffs. He is expected to begin next season with the Amerks.

Linus Cronholm, defenseman, IK Pantern (fourth round, 2018): After beginning the season with the Malmo Redhawks' junior program in Sweden, Cronholm was loaned to IK Pantern of Allsvenskan, the country's second-best professional league.

Cronholm had two goals with nine assists and a plus-7 rating in 36 games with IK Pantern, earning him an audition with Malmo's top team in the Swedish Hockey League.

The 18-year-old right-handed defenseman appeared in six games during the regular season and five in the playoffs. He is expected to spend next season with Malmo.

Miska Kukkonen, defenseman, Tappara U20 (fifth round, 2018): Kukkonen, 18, took an important step in his development by earning 10 regular-season games in Liiga and six in the playoffs.

A right-shot defenseman, Kukkonen had two goals with six assists and a minus-13 rating for Tappara U20. He is under contract with Lukko of Liiga for two more seasons.

William Worge Kreu, defenseman, Linkoping HC J20 (seventh round, 2018): Kreu, who turns 19 next week, is a left-shot defenseman standing at 6-foot-6 and has played only one professional game over the past two seasons.

Still, Kreu had another promising junior season with three assists and a plus-1 rating in 24 regular-season games.

Marcus Davidsson, center, Djurgardens IF (second round, 2017): Davidson, 20, will spend at least one more season in the Swedish Hockey League after signing a two-year contract with Vaxjo. The decision to extend his stay overseas is similar to the Sabres keeping Victor Olofsson in Sweden for one more season in 2017-18.

Still, Davidsson made another encouraging step, scoring 10 goals with 17 assists and a plus-10 rating for Djurgardens IF this season. He also added three goals with three assists during 19 playoff games, which ended with a loss to Frolunda in the championship series.

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, goalie, Sudbury (second round, 2017): The 20-year-old had a remarkable year, leading Finland to gold at the World Junior Championship and helping Sudbury reach the Ontario Hockey League playoffs with his league-best six shutouts and 38 regular-season wins.

Luukkonen was assigned to Rochester in April and made his debut during its regular season finale, making 32 saves in a 4-2 win at Belleville. However, he underwent hip surgery last month and could miss the start of the Amerks' season this fall.

Oskari Laaksonen, defenseman, Ilves (third round, 2017): A right-shot defenseman, Laaksonen had a breakout season with Ilves of Liiga, Finland's top professional league. The 19-year-old had three goals with 21 assists in 46 regular-season games before posting one assist in four playoff games.

Laaksonen also helped Finland to a gold medal at the World Junior Championship with one goal and a plus-5 rating in seven games.

Jacob Bryson, defenseman, Providence College (fourth round, 2017): Bryson, 21, led the Friars to the Frozen Four, where they lost to eventual national champion Minnesota Duluth.

Bryson then chose to sign with the Sabres and joined the Amerks on an amateur tryout, though he did not appear in a playoff game. He had four goals with 24 assists in 42 games during his junior season at Providence. His entry-level contract won't begin until next season.

Linus Weissbach, winger, University of Wisconsin (seventh round, 2017): Weissbach, 21, scored eight goals with 17 assists and a plus-2 rating in 27 games as a sophomore with the Badgers. Though Weissbach missed one month with a hand injury, he finished third on the team in scoring. He is expected to return to Wisconsin for his junior season.

Brett Murray, winger, Youngstown Phantoms (fourth round, 2016): The 20-year-old winger's 41 goals led the USHL and he added 35 assists with a plus-131 rating in 62 games for the Youngstown Phantoms.

Murray, who played two seasons at Penn State before returning to the USHL, recently decommitted from Miami University (Ohio). He is expected to either choose another college program or sign another entry-level contract.

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