We’re only a few games into the hockey season for players over in Europe. The Champions Hockey League play began last week and will continue through February. In two games Buffalo Sabres prospect Marcus Davidsson has set the tone for what can be a breakout season for the 2017 second-round pick.
Backtracking a little, for those of you who don’t know about the Champions Hockey League. It’s an annual tournament in Europe between 32 teams. The vast majority of those clubs (24) come from the six found leagues (SHL, Liiga, DEL, Czech Extraliga, National League A, and Austrian Hockey League.) The other eight teams who qualify are made up of national champions from Slovakia, Norway, Denmark, France, Belarus, Great Britain and Poland.
The league works in a similar fashion to the Champions League in soccer for those of you who are familiar with that. The teams are broken into eight groups of four for the round robin portion that will go through the middle of October.
Then the teams who qualify for the playoffs will compete until a winner emerges at the beginning of February. You can find further details on it here.
As a result of finishing as the runner-up last year in the SHL, Djurgarden, and Davidsson qualified to participate in the tournament. In two games they have victories over Ocelari Trinec (6-1) and Storhamar Hamar (3-2) in a dramatic comeback overtime win.
Davidsson made his presence felt in both games so far. Against Ocelari he scored once playing 14:43 and was 45 percent at the face-off dot. In game two against Storhamar, the 19-year-old scored the overtime game-winning goal to complete the late comeback for Djurgarden.
The young Swede is a prospect in the Sabres system that flies under the radar for the most part. Perhaps he’s currently overshadowed by fellow Swedish native Rasmus Asplund who is making the transition to North America this season.
While a lot of people are high on the potential for Asplund, the same should be said for Davidsson. He has a lot of the same tools that Asplund has in his style of play. Davidsson is quick skating, two-way center that has an underrated offensive upside to his game.
He has great hockey-IQ which is what allows him to be successful at both ends of the ice against men as a player of his age. The 6’0” and 192 pounds forward also has the position versatility to play center and the wing. A trait that we know is important to general manager Jason Botterill.
Last year he scored nine goals and 21 points in 39 games for Djurgarden as a teenager playing in the SHL. Davidsson turns 20-years-old in November and it’ll be interesting to follow him this season to see if can put together another strong campaign.