It has been quiet in Buffalo the past few weeks, but things are about to heat up. In this edition of Sabres News and Rumors, I’ll be discussing the Buffalo Sabres’ new royal blue uniforms set to be released as soon as next week, Rasmus Dahlin’s offseason workout developments, Brett Murray’s entry-level contract after establishing himself as the Rochester Americans’ best rookie in the 2019-20 season, and Arttu Ruotsalainen’s loan back to Ilves in the Liiga.
Sabres to Release New Uniforms as Soon as Monday
An exciting development — it appears as though the Sabres are preparing to release their new royal blue and gold uniforms, and they could be revealed as soon as Monday. The team originally made the announcement prior to the 2019-20 season that they would be switching to royal blue for the 2020-21 season, but no images of the new uniforms have been leaked.
Sabres goaltender Linus Ullmark has already updated his gear with Buffalo’s new colour scheme, and it looks pretty amazing. The 2020-21 season will be the first time the team uses royal blue as their primary uniform colour since the 1995-96 season. The Sabres are also expected to keep their popular 50th anniversary uniform as their third jersey. Come next week, they could have one of the best uniform lineups in the NHL.
Rasmus Dahlin Spending Time in Gym, Weighs in at 205 Pounds
Dahlin has spent the majority of his offseason training in Sweden and recently revealed he is up 12 pounds from the regular season after putting in hard work at the gym. The Sabres had him listed at 193 pounds for the 2019-20 season and will certainly see that increase for the upcoming 2020-21 season.
By the age of 20, he had already recorded 84 points in 141 games played, ranking him second in points among all teenage defensemen in NHL history. In his 2018-19 rookie season, Dahlin became the third-ever 18-year-old defenseman in league history to reach the 40-point mark and averaged 0.54 points per game. He followed up his rookie season with 40 points in 59 games, an average of 0.68 points per game, in the 2019-20 season. With extra size and muscle, expect Dahlin to take another step forward in his development this upcoming season.
Brett Murray Signs Two-Year Entry-Level Contract
The Sabres signed their former fourth-round pick (99th overall) of the 2016 NHL Draft to a two-year entry-level contract last Friday. Murray is a 22-year-old left wing and played the 2019-20 season with the Americans in the AHL. He led all rookies on the team with 24 points (9 goals, 15 assists) in 55 games.
Murray is currently listed as 6-foot-5 and 236 pounds. Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams described him as having a “unique blend of size and scoring ability.” This scoring ability was best seen in his previous 2018-19 USHL season when he tallied 41 goals for the Youngstown Phantoms and ranked second in the league with 76 points, earning himself First All-Star Team honours. If Murray continues to improve at the professional level and can establish himself as a key piece to the Americans’ roster, we very well may see him donning the Sabres’ blue and gold in the future.
Arttu Ruotsalainen Loaned Back to Ilves in the Liiga
The Tampereen Ilves of the Liiga announced on Wednesday that Sabres prospect Ruotsalainen would remain on loan to the Finnish hockey club until further notice. Ruotsalainen is a 22-year-old centre and recorded 43 points (15 goals, 28 assists) in 44 games with Ilves in the 2019-20 season.
The original plan was for Ruotsalainen to play in North America this upcoming season, but with the NHL and AHL seasons being pushed back due to COVID-19, staying in Finland makes the most sense for now. The Liiga begins their preseason schedule this week and is slated to begin their 2020-21 regular season in October. This will provide the young Sabres prospect with playing time over the coming months rather than waiting until December for North American hockey to start up again.
It is expected that Ruotsalainen will report to Buffalo when the Sabres host their training camp later this year. He will most likely play the 2020-21 season in the AHL with the Americans, but could potentially compete for a roster spot on the Sabres if he continues to impress in the Liiga and NHL training camp.
What’s Next for the Sabres?
It is expected that Oskari Laaksonen, a 21-year-old defensive prospect for the Sabres, will be loaned back to Ilves in the Liiga to join his teammate Ruotsalainen. Laaksonen has played the past three seasons for Ilves, recording 40 points (5 goals, 35 assists) in 113 games played. We also await new contracts for restricted free agents Sam Reinhart, Victor Olofsson, Linus Ullmark, Dominik Kahun, and more. General manager Adams has a lot of work ahead of him this offseason, and fans should be excited to see what moves he makes in the coming weeks and months.
Tom Pepper is a Seattle Kraken/NHL columnist at The Hockey Writers. He joined THW in June 2020 and has been writing about the Kraken since June 2021. He studies at the Ryerson School of Journalism and covers the Ryerson Rams men’s and women’s hockey teams for the Eyeopener student newspaper. Twitter: @TomPepper