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Asplund decides to stay in Sweden with Sabres upheaval

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Prospect wants to continue his development in the SHL

2016 NHL Draft - Portraits
Rasmus Asplund
Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes/Getty Images

The front office tumult at the Buffalo Sabres has affected at least one of the team’s prospects, with Rasmus Asplund deciding to stay in Sweden for now. The 33rd overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft spoke to Swedish paper New Folkblad, saying he would rather continue his development at SHL side Färjestad BK for now.

Despite beginning contract talks with the Sabres a month ago, those talks went silent with the change at GM, and Asplund has decided not to come over this season.

“No, I will not sign an NHL contract this summer.

It is very turbulent in Buffalo right now, given that they will have the new coach in both the NHL and AHL. There is no need to sign me up now [to Buffalo/Rochester].

“It would be really fun to go far in the playoffs and accumulate experience from it [with Färjestad].

“Then I want to take the leap in my development and get better, taking small steps throughout the season and maybe get some games for the Tre Kronor [Sweden national team].

“It's like the next step and therefore the next target.”

Who can the blame the prospect for making this decision considering there will be new coaches at both the Rochester Americans and the Buffalo Sabres in the upcoming season, with General Manager Jason Botterill looking to fill those vacancies soon.

Sweden v Russia - Bronze Medal Game - 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship
Rasmus Asplund during the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship
Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

Asplund scored 19 points last season, with 6 goals and 13 assists in 39 games. He has also represented Sweden at all boys and junior levels, and been part of the Swedish Junior World Championship team the last two winters.

This could have been a chance for him to prove himself to the new management, but it appears he’s taking the safest route and establishing himself as a solid contributor in Sweden first before making the leap to the AHL and NHL.

A previous scouting report on the player showed that he still has some ways to go before he can make it here and this appears to be the best decision -

Asplund showed solid defensive awareness on a pair of backchecks. He further demonstrated his defensive smarts on the penalty kill, particularly in one sequence where he intercepted a pass, the gained the offensive zone and took on three Rögle BK players to kill the final 15 seconds. On the other hand, there were multiple sequences where Asplund failed to initiate physical contact and was unable to win possession as a result.

The speed that Asplund plays at was noticeable from the first shift until the last. His powerful, upright stride is complemented with smooth crossovers giving him the illusion of “floating on ice.” He receives passes in stride, and has a soft first touch that enables him to get a quick hop on defenders and attack with speed. He looks for, and attempts, high difficulty passes, which he was unable to connect with in the game. His shot lacks in power, and in fact limits him to strictly a playmaker at the SHL-level, for now.

H/t to Patrik Bexell, the European Correspondent for SBN’s Montreal blog Habs Eyes on the Prize, for alerting us to the interview.