Today, we continue our 2021 Buffalo Sabres player report cards with a focus on forward Victor Olofsson. The 25-year-old is finding his legs in the NHL. This season was just really his second season in the NHL, and all things considered, he didn’t have a bad year - but depending on what roster moves come this summer, he may be called upon to step into an even bigger role going forward.
Total Season Stats: 56 GP | 13 G | 19 A | 32 PTS
Contract Status: Signed through 2021-22 ($3,050,000)
In a year filled with ups and downs - a shortened season, the disappointing Buffalo premieres of Taylor Hall & Eric Staal (and then departure of both), plus the injury to Jack Eichel - Olofsson was a significant contributor on a stifled Sabres offense. He finished the season second on the team in points and goals, behind only Sam Reinhart in both categories, and led the team in assists.
Over the past few years, he’s certainly proven his offensive prowess on the power play. Even this season - where he was one of only two Sabres players to appear in every game Olofsson recorded nearly half (15 of 32) of his points on the advantage. While it’s great to have a player who is so talented in that situation, I’d look for him to step up and showcase that skill at even-strength on a more regular basis. To me, that’s what’s still lacking.
Unlike some players, Olofsson’s play wasn’t significantly impacted by the coaching change from Ralph Krueger to Don Granato. Granato did seem to utilize his players differently, which dropped Olofsson’s average ice time per night by nearly a minute (17:52 to 16:55). Under Krueger, Olofsson played six games with more than 20 minutes of ice time; under Granato, he only eclipsed that mark once. (FWIW, each coach had exactly 28 games.)
Under Krueger, Olofsson recorded 19 points (8-11). He added 13 points (5-8) under Granato.
Of the players who finished the season with the Sabres, Olofsson was the sixth-highest paid; among forwards, the fourth-highest, behind Jeff Skinner, Kyle Okposo and Reinhart.
The organization has begun to rely on Olofsson more - he had the fourth-most ice time among Sabres forwards, behind only Eichel, Reinhart and Hall - and this is a trend that I can certainly see continuing. After all, Eichel seems to want out, and Reinhart is going to be an RFA. If either or both of them leave, Olofsson is one of the top forwards in their absence.
The coming season will be a big one for Olofsson, as his contract expires at the end of it. While his cap hit right now isn’t anywhere near that of the big guns, it certainly could jump significantly depending on his production and who is, or isn’t, left around him.
Season Grade: B
How would you grade Victor Olofsson’s season?
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