Buffalo Sabres Top 25 Under 25: #16 (T) Nicolas Deslauriers
The converted forward played well in Buffalo, but had trouble putting the puck in the net.
Position: Left Wing/Defense
Weight: 209 lbs.
2013-14 team: Manchester/Buffalo/Rochester
Acquired: Traded from the Los Angeles Kings along with Hudson Fasching for Brayden McNabb and two second round picks
Last year's ranking: N/A
Nicolas Deslauriers was never great at the defensive side of playing defense, so it made sense that the Kings organization would try something new. They moved him to forward, and he excelled. Deslauriers had a breakout season with the Manchester Monarchs last season.
At the time of the trade Deslauriers led Manchester with 18 goals in his first season at forward. Most expected him to head straight to Rochester after the trade, but an injury forced him to be recalled immediately. He stayed up with the team for the rest of the season, scoring one goal in his 17 NHL games.
Despite his somewhat odd build, Deslauriers is a fast skater (Hockey's Future even called him a "wizard" with the puck) and does a good job at getting where he needs to fast, even if that includes roughing up someone else. When you see him on the ice, the first thing you notice is just how big he is. He put up pretty solid fancy stats in Buffalo, finishing second in relative Fenwick and sixth in relative Corsi.
The question is whether Deslauriers can progress any further as an offensive threat, especially since he's already 23-years-old. He showed that he can produce at an AHL level at forward, but can he do the same at the next level? We didn't see much offense from him in his time in Buffalo.
The Sabres re-signed Deslauriers to a two-year extension this summer, so we'll get more time to figure out exactly what Deslauriers is. With his $1.25 million price tag the Sabres will want him in the lineup, especially in a season where playoffs aren't on the line, to figure out just what they got in the trade with the Kings last season. If he doesn't work out, Hudson Fasching was the center piece of the return from the start.
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