The first defensive player the Buffalo Sabres drafted in the 2017 NHL Draft, Oskari Laaksonen comes in at number 16 on the Sabres “Top 25 Under 25” list.
Laaksonen was drafted by the Sabres in the third round in 2017, after drafting Casey Mittelstadt and Marcus Davidsson in the first and second rounds, respectively.
Player: Oskari Laaksonen
Acquired: 2017 NHL Draft - 3rd round (89th overall)
Size: 6’2” | 188 lbs.
2019-2020 Team: Ilves - Liiga
2018-2019 Stats: 46 GP | 3 G | 21 A | 24 PTS (Liiga - Ilves)
Fan Rank: 16
Staff Rank: 16
2018 Rank: N/A
Buffalo currently does not have a long list of defensive prospects, and more specifically right handed shot defensive prospects. Laaksonen fits the bill as one of the best right shot defenders they have in their system.
Laaksonen spent the last two seasons playing for Ilves in the Liiga. His first season did not get off to the best start, putting up 4 points in 21 games. The 2018-2019 season was something of a breakout campaign for Laaksonen. He scored 24 points in 46 games. Laaksonen also enjoyed success on the international level this season, competing on the Finland team that won the U20 World Junior Championship Gold Medal.
After his breakout season this year, there was some hope that Laaksonen could make the jump to North America this season and play a role within the Sabres organization, likely with Rochester. However, Laaksonen signed a contract extension with Ilves in December that will likely push his move to North America off for a little while longer.
Laaksonen is an intriguing player to keep an eye on for the Sabres. After being relatively unknown as a draftee, Laaksonen has quickly become a key prospect for the Sabres and his quick progression is an exciting development for Buffalo.