One of Jason Botterill’s first draft choices as general manager of the Buffalo Sabres is free to sign with another NHL team.
Marcus Davidsson, a 22-year-old center selected in the second round at Botterill’s first draft in 2017, officially became a free agent Tuesday when he did not receive an entry-level contract from the Sabres before the 5 p.m. deadline.
Davidsson is the only player in the Sabres' 2017 draft class to not join the organization. Winger Linus Weissbach, a seventh-round selection, signed with the team in April following his senior season at the University of Wisconsin.
The Sabres' draft that June also included Casey Mittelstadt, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, Oskari Laaksonen and Jacob Bryson, all of whom spent this past season in Buffalo and/or Rochester.
Davidsson split this season between three different teams, including two in Sweden’s second division, HockeyAllsvenskan. With the latter, Davidsson had three goals and 13 points in 37 regular-season games. He was held scoreless in four playoff contests with Sodertalje SK.
Injuries and underperformance have prevented Davidsson from producing in Sweden’s top professional league the past two seasons. Following his selection by the Sabres at No. 37 overall, Davidsson had nine goals and 21 points in 39 games with Djurgardens IF of the Swedish Hockey League in 2017-18.
Davidsson’s development trended up the following season, as he posted 27 points in 52 regular-season games and added three goals in the playoffs. His troubles began in 2019-20 when, according to multiple reports out of Sweden, his season was cut short by symptoms related to a concussion.
Last offseason, Davidsson signed a two-year contract with Vaxjo of the SHL, but he missed the start of this season while recovering from a surgical procedure. The two sides mutually agreed to terminate his contract in November after he was routinely used as the team’s extra forward.
Davidsson then split time between Soldertalje SK and Vasterviks IK. It’s unclear where he plans to play next season.
While the outlook for the Sabres' 2017 draft class has brightened considerably over the past 12 months, missing on a high pick is a difficult blow for an organization that's lacking prospect depth. Botterill chose Davidsson over several players who are currently making an impact in the NHL, most notably Dallas Stars forward Jason Robertson, who is expected to be a Calder Trophy finalist this month. Robertson was selected No. 39 by the Stars after a 42-goal season with the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League in 2016-17.