The NHL isn’t playing, but the Buffalo Sabres are still keeping busy.
Earlier this week, the organization announced they had signed defenseman Mattias Samuelsson to a three-year entry-level contract. The 20-year-old blueliner was a second-round pick in 2018. They also landed forward Dawson DiPietro, a teammate of Samuelsson’s at Western Michigan. He was a college free agent.
Lastly, the team inked left wing Brandon Biro, a four-year letterman at Penn State.
Samuelsson’s Inks Three-Year Deal
Samuelsson, son of NHL veteran Kjell Samuelsson, played two seasons of college hockey for Western Michigan University. As a Bronco, he played in a total of 65 regular season games, chipping in 26 points (7 goals, 19 assists). This past season, he served as an alternate captain.
The Broncos went 11-4-1 over their final 16 games to earn the fourth seed in the NCHC postseason tournament and a game against St. Cloud State. Unfortunately the outbreak of the coronavirus cancelled all NCAA winter championships, putting an early end to his sophomore season.
“We are very pleased with Mattias’ growth both at Western Michigan and on the international stage,” said Sabres general manager Jason Botterill in a statement. “He possesses a unique combination of size, speed and skill, and we look forward to working with him on his next steps as a pro.”
The 6-foot-4, 217-pound left-shot defenseman participated in two IIHF World Junior Championships. In January 2019, Samuelsson wore the ‘C’ and helped lead the team USA to a silver medal.
His three-year deal is worth $925,000 annually, beginning with the 2020-21 season.
The Sabres have had a glut of defensemen, especially on the right side. Rasmus Ristolainen, Colin Miller, Brandon Montour and Henri Jokiharju are all right-shot d-men. Left-shot blueliners include Rasmus Dahlin, Jake McCabe, and Lawrence Pilut. The team’s non-roster defense includes Brandon Hickey, Will Borgen, Casey Fitzgerald, Matthew Spencer and Jacob Bryson.
The team has yet to sign 20-year-old Finnish prospect Oskari Laaksonen (taken by the Sabres in the third round in 2017) and 18-year-old American Ryan Johnson (taken by the Sabres in the first round in 2019).
Samuelsson uses his size and long reach to his advantage by breaking up plays and fighting well in the corners. He’s likely to play in Rochester next season while working on his skating and transition game. With a crowded blue line in Buffalo, he’s a very long shot to make the big club next season. He needs time to develop and to fill out his frame. He’s exactly the type of player a team needs to have in their pipeline.
DiPietro Agrees to One-Year Deal
If Dawson DiPietro’s name looks familiar, it’s because the 24-year-old attended the Sabres’ prospect development camp last June.
The 5-foot-11 forward was born in Ohio and played his college career with Western Michigan. In his freshman season, he only appeared in one game. He led the team in goals (13), assists (22) and points as a sophomore and was named team co-MVP. In his junior season, DiPietro helped the Broncos to a 21-win season that ended with a quarterfinal loss in the NCHC Tournament. He played a total of 104 games across his final three seasons, averaging 29 points-per-season.
DiPietro is extremely excited. “This is obviously something that I have been working for my entire life, but now the real work begins as I chase a new dream of becoming a great pro.”
“The young talent is one of the most exciting things about the Buffalo Sabres’ organization. They have been able to stockpile young talent with a goal of growing together. I am ready to get to work and prove myself, which is exactly what I have had to do everywhere I have played. I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
DiPietro’s deal is worth $750,000.
Biro Joins Sabres
Brandon Biro, a left wing, played 138 games for Penn St., scoring 41 goals and adding 75 assists. The 5-foot-11, 180 pound forward was at Sabres development camp in June of 2018 and remembers feeling welcomed.
“You were just treated like a professional even though I was an undrafted free agent who didn’t really have any ties to the organization,” said Biro. “Just the way they treated everyone was awesome. It was something I wanted to be a part of.”
Biro left his mark at Penn State. Among his accomplishments, he won the Big Ten championship as a freshman in 2016-17 and was a conference all-star honorable mention with NCAA career highs of 16 goals, 24 assists and 40 points as a junior in 2018-19.
He hopes he emulate the game of Kailer Yamamoto who plays for the Edmonton Oilers. “He’s been excelling really well as an undersized guy in the league and someone who I kind of want to play like eventually,” said Biro. “I feel like I’ve got a 200-foot game and like to use my speed to make plays.”
Brandon will bring a combination of skill, hockey sense and character to our organization. We’re confident that his four years at Penn State with coach Guy Gadowsky have prepared him well for the next phase of his development.–Sabres GM, Jason Botterill
Biro is excited to join the Sabres. “I feel like there’s a good opportunity for myself to come in and prove myself as a player and get an opportunity to play. I think it was just a good fit both on the ice and off the ice.”
The native of Sherwood Park, Canada, was an Oiler fan growing up and admittedly still is–he loves to watch Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
Biro’s two-year, entry-level deal is worth $1.35 million per season.
Jeff has been covering the NHL for over a decade for various sites. He’s been with The Hockey Writers as a lead Sabres writer three years, while also writing a satire column called “Off the Crossbar.”