Rousek’s Debut Lives Up to Expectations
The 2019 draft pick finally made his NHL debut - and it was worth the wait.
Winger Lukáš Rousek became the second member of the 2019 Buffalo Sabres draft class to reach the NHL on Monday night, making his debut in a shootout loss to the Montreal Canadiens. (The other member of that draft class to play in the NHL so far is, of course, Dylan Cozens.)
Rousek’s long-awaited debut certainly didn’t disappoint, as he scored his first NHL goal on his first shot, on his first shift, in his first game. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Rousek, who turns 24 next month, was drafted by the Sabres 160th overall in 2019 at the age of 20, a rare overage draft pick who went undrafted in two prior years. He remained overseas for a few years after the draft, playing for HC Sparta Praha in Czechia and representing his country internationally.
He made the jump to North America in 2021, but it was a rough start when he suffered a knee injury that required a full ACL reconstruction before training camp even began. What could’ve easily been a season-ending injury proved to be just another hurdle for Rousek to overcome - and he did.
He skated in 19 regular-season games for the Amerks, putting up four points, but really made an impact in Rochester’s playoff run, with six points in 10 games.
Now in his first full season in the AHL, Rousek has been absolutely shining. He’s put up 49 points, including 34 assists, in 62 games with the Amerks. With that kind of production, it came as no surprise when the Sabres recalled him amid Tage Thompson’s lingering injury.
It also came as no surprise, then, that Rousek made an immediate impact at the NHL level.
In addition to the goal, he added an assist despite playing just 9:03, the lowest ice time among all forwards. (Riley Stillman, who played 8:59 on the back end, also had a goal, so it’s all about working with the opportunities you’re given, I guess!)
Rousek had one shot and one blocked shot and took one faceoff. He’s now since been reassigned to the Amerks again. Rochester plays on Wednesday, while the Sabres aren’t back in action until Friday, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him at the NHL level again soon.